A middle school in the U.S. is facing criticism after a social studies quiz for 6th graders (roughly Primary 6) asked whether it is a "Chinese norm" in some parts of the country to eat cats and dogs.
Three teachers at the Texas school have been put on paid investigative leave and are under investigation.
Multiple choice question about Chinese norms
On Tuesday, Mar. 30 (Wednesday, Mar. 31 Singapore time), college student Joy Lim took to Twitter to share a photo of the question, which she said was from a quiz that her sister took for a social studies class.
The question asked the students to identify which of the three statements was a Chinese norm.
The statements were:
- It is normal in China to cut off someone's lips if they burp in a restaurant.
- It is normal in parts of China to give children fifty lashes by a cane if they steal a piece of candy.
- It is normal in parts of China to eat cats and dogs.
Another question could also be seen, asking students about whether Chinese president Xi Jinping was voted on by the Chinese people.
In her tweet, Lim called out the questions, writing:
"[H]armful rhetoric in our education system is exactly why anti-[A]sian hate crimes and racism persist today."
She tagged the school, Blalack Middle School in Carrollton, Texas, as well as the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, telling them to "do better".
my sister’s 6th grade social studies class took a quiz today and......... this is ridiculous.. harmful rhetoric in our education system is exactly why anti-asian hate crimes and racism persist today @CFBISD @BlalackMS do better pic.twitter.com/MCIjc0WI3z— joy (@joyjuheelim) March 30, 2021
Lim told local media station NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth:
"With this example, we see that starting from middle school the students are taught to think different about China, about Asian Americans, people who look different than them."
The Dallas Morning News reported that Lim, whose family is Korean American, had been concerned and uncomfortable about how the social studies unit about China was taught to her 12-year-old sister's class:
"The language that was being used when the teacher was talking about the Covid-19 virus and where it had originated in China, very broad generalisations were being made, and I was uncomfortable where the teacher could take this."
Teachers placed on paid administrative leave
Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District released a statement approximately 15 hours after Lim's tweet was posted, on Mar. 31.
In the statement, the district claimed that it "values our diverse community of learners and staff", and that "actions or language disrespecting any people group are not acceptable and do not represent our core belief system".
The statement said the three teachers who "used inappropriate language" about Asian Americans that was "derogatory" and "hurtful" have been placed on administrative leave until an investigation is finished.
The statement also emphasised that the school district had recently launched a diversity training initiative for staff, and that training opportunities would be enhanced in order to "create a more inclusive and respectful environment".
Rise in hate crimes against Asians in the U.S.
The quiz comes amidst an increased spate of attacks against Asians in the U.S. in the past year.
Just this week, on Monday (Mar. 29), a 65-year-old Asian woman was assaulted while on the way to church. She was kicked multiple times by the assailant, who allegedly said, "F**k you, you don't belong here."
A study at California State University, San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that the number of hate crimes against Asians in the U.S.'s major cities rose by nearly 150 per cent in 2020.
Top photos via Twitter / @joyjuheelim.