Another round of misleading ‘classroom resources’ on Zimmerman trial

Another round of misleading ‘classroom resources’ on Zimmerman trial

schoolIn March of this year, it was reported in this space that 80% of graduates from New York City high schools need remediation in the “3 R’s” before they can even apply for admission to the city’s community colleges. Similarly sobering statistics are emanating from schools all across the country. If you’re wondering what’s behind them, look no further, an online “resource” for teachers.

A lesson added to the site on July 17, titled “Not Guilty Verdict and Reaction to the Zimmerman-Martin Case,” carries the subtitle “Today’s News, Tomorrow’s Lesson.” I learned about the existence of the site and this particular lesson plan from Twitchy, which in turn learned about it thanks to a tweet by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. Here is the lesson:

George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, African-American teenager, in 2012 was found not guilty Saturday night of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The prosecution contended that Zimmerman intentionally pursued and began an altercation with Martin because Zimmerman assumed that Martin was a criminal. The defense, however, stated that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him.

Zimmerman’s defense team did not invoke Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, which states that an individual may justifiably use defend oneself without attempting to leave the situation if he or she feels his or her life is in danger. The law was, however, included in the jury instructions. This expanded definition of self-defense has come under scrutiny as some feel it encourages people to stand and fight rather than attempt to flee these conflict situations.

The case sparked national interest and even outrage. After the verdict was announced on Saturday night, a protest began outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida. Protests quickly spread throughout the evening and the remainder of the weekend to Washington, DC, New York City and Los Angeles, among other cities. These demonstrations were largely peaceful and non-violent in nature. Civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, quickly launched efforts to initiate civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

President Obama reacted to the verdict by issuing a statement calling Martin’s death a tragedy, but asking Americans “to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.”


1.) Do you think justice was served with [sic] the jury’s verdict? Why or why not?

2.) What is racial profiling? Do you think it played a role in this case?

3.) What is the purpose of non-violent protesting?

In its original incarnation, the second paragraph read, “Zimmerman’s defense team employed Florida’s ‘stand-your-ground’ law.” Ostensibly, the change was made after Twitchy pointed out the inaccuracy of the statement. Any teacher who downloaded the lesson before the correction was made, however, is still disseminating misinformation about the case and its outcome.

But that’s not the only problem with the lesson. Look at Question 2. Asking students whether racial profiling played a role in the case without telling them that the federal investigators thoroughly examined that possibility and dismissed it is at best deceitful. The FBI report alone was 300 pages long. It contained the following:

After interviewing nearly three dozen people — including gun dealers, Zimmerman’s former fiancé, co-workers and neighbors — the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting, the records show. It’s unclear whether more interview transcripts remain to be released.

The evidence released Thursday includes witness-statement summaries from co-workers. They described Zimmerman as a consummate professional who was exceedingly pleasant and didn’t fly off the handle, even when someone cut off the lock he had used to make sure no one moved a special ergonomic chair from his desk. An ex-girlfriend described him as someone who sometimes wanted to drive into a lake and was prone to road rage, but she said he had plenty of black friends and was the ‘last person’ she would expect to get into the kind of confrontation that led to Trayvon’s death.

One might also take issue with the claim that the “demonstrations [after the verdict] were largely peaceful and non-violent,” but suffice it to conclude with Twitchy’s caveat, which is to suspend judgment until “the New Black Panther Party holds its Million Youth March in September.”

Sadly, this is not the first lesson plan to distort the facts of the Zimmerman case in order to inject race into the story. That dubious distinction belongs to one Hassan Adeeb, of Waldorf, Md., who published his own version of the facts at a website called African American History in early July.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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