A school in Dallas, Texas is under fire after an English teacher’s assignment listed Kyle Rittenhouse as a choice for “hero for the modern age.”
Rittenhouse faces charges for multiple counts of murder following an August 25 incident where he allegedly shot two rioters in Kenosha, Wis. and injured one other during a militant Black Lives Matter/Antifa demonstration that involved looting, assault, arson, and property damage. The 17-year-old is being tried as an adult and is currently awaiting extradition to Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse’s attorney, John Pierce, claims Rittenhouse acted in self-defense while caught in the middle of the violent chaos.
Reports show Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-15 long-barreled rifle to help a friend defend his business from looting and riots during the street carnage in Kenosha last month. Some video evidence appears to show the 17-year-old being surrounded and physically attacked before using his weapon. In the video, at least one of the people Rittenhouse is said to have shot seems to be attempting to aim a firearm at him and another has a criminal record as a sex offender, according to reports.
Newsweek reports students in Dallas at W.T. White High School were asked to complete an assignment, which listed Rittenhouse as one of the possible topics of the class project, called “Hero for the Modern Age.” Others named as potential subjects were César Chávez, George Floyd, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, and Joseph D. Rosenbaum–one of the people allegedly killed by Rittenhouse.
Complaints already started rolling in as one family member of a student at the school said to CBS 11 News that she was taken aback by the lack of women on the list of choices.
The relative, whose brother was one of the students who was tasked with the assignment, went on to remark, “It didn’t sit right with him that a white supremacist murderer was on the same page as people he recognized to be important historical figures.”
“I don’t think that human rights are up for debate, I don’t think the sanctity of black lives is up for debate, and that’s what this assignment is basically saying,” she continued.
Many others have defended the teacher’s intentions as an exercise in attempting to promote a healthy academic dialogue.
The first task of the assignment told students to select a “hero” from the provided list and write a half-page biography about the subject.
The second part of the assignment instructed the students to write a page-long essay on the person from the list who best fits their personal “concept of a hero.”
The assignment created controversy within the school. A representative for the Dallas Independent School District addressed the matter in a statement, saying, “An unapproved assignment posted in Google Classroom yesterday has been brought to our attention.”
“Understandably,” the statement went on, “this caused concern for the impacted students, and we apologize. Campus administration immediately removed the unapproved content and students are not required to complete that assignment.”
The statement continued, “Due to personnel policies, we are not able to comment further, however, the appropriate steps are being followed pending investigation. Racial equity is a top priority in Dallas ISD, and we remain committed to providing a robust teaching environment where all students can learn.”
“It is important that we continue to be culturally sensitive to our diverse populations and provide a space of respect and values,” the statement ended by stating.
The Dallas Independent School District has not released the identity of the W. T. White High School English teacher who assigned the class project, but he was later doxxed by the media and on Twitter. He is now under investigation by the school. Activists on social media have demanded his immediate removal.