Pasodale Elementary parents question "inappropriate" homework assignment

Courtesy Pasodale Elementary Parent
The School Yard

POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 1:08pm

UPDATED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 7:46am

Many parents are scratching their heads over a 4th grade homework assignment handed out on Tuesday but not because they can't understand it.

Parents of a group of students at Pasodale Elementary School are angry with a teacher for sending their children home with what they call an "inappropriate reading assignment."

One parent says it was supposed to be an assignment done in class but when some of the kids didn't finish it in time, they took it home, and that's when their parents said they noticed something wasn't right.

Ursula Silverstein said her 10 year-old daughter's 4th grade teacher asked the class to read a series of paragraphs, and then answer questions about what each situation meant - an inference assignment.

Problem is, like several other parents with students in that class, Silverstein said parts of the assignment were inappropriate. She said the paragraph below describes a scenario where a husband cheats on his wife, and students were asked to make conclusions about what the situation was about.

Below is a transcript of one of the paragraphs and questions included in the assignment:

Ruby sat on the bed she shared with her husband holding a hairclip. There was something mysterious and powerful about the cheaply manufactured neon clip that she was fondling suspiciously. She didn't recognize the hairclip. It was too big to be their daughter's, and Ruby was sure that it wasn't hers. She hadn't had friends over in weeks but there was this hairclip, little and green with a few long black hair strands caught in it. Ruby ran her fingers through her own blonde hair. She had just been vacuuming when she noticed this small, bright green object under the bed. Now their life would never be the same. She would wait here until Mike returned home.

  1. Why is Ruby so affected by the hairclip?
  2. How has the hairclip affected Ruby's relationship?


"I think life situations like that should be taught at home, not at school," said Silverstein.

"Why would the teacher give them that type of assignment, you know? It could be something about nature or planets. But something about that, it's very inappropriate," said another parent, Nancy Desantiago.

The homework assignment spurred a debate on Facebook.

Some agreed that the topics weren't age-appropriate, but others argued kids these days are already exposed to adult situations.

Gro Francesco said, "..is this material appropriate? No, I don't think so but neither is letting them play violent video games, letting them get fat nor allowed (sic) them to dress like "thugs" and listen to gangster music."

Ruben Vaquez said "if an elementary aged child can deduce what this is talking about then infidelity has already made itself known in their home...just saying."

The Ysleta Independent School District released the following statement today:

"YISD administration is aware of an unacceptable assignment that was given to a 4th- grade class at Pasodale Elementary. We apologize to the students and the parents who received this assignment. Campus administration has addressed the issue with the teacher, and has taken decisive measures to assure that future assignments are aligned to the curriculum and are of the highest instructional caliber."

Teachers at Pasodale Elementary do have to submit lesson plans for approval, but a district spokesperson said not all assignments are reviewed.

Original story:

A parent contacted our newsroom, asking not to be identified, stating that her fourth grade student was sent home with a homework assignment to prepare for the STAAR test. The assignment was intended to be a classroom assignment, completed in instructional time. The parent said that her student missed a period of class that day, and was given the assignment to take home to complete. Many other parents in the same class were only made aware of the assignment afterwards, due to the fact that it was initially handed out and completed during regular instructional time.

The assignment was intended to make the students draw inferences from short paragraphs, but the subject matter was distinctly adult.

Below is a transcript of some of the questions included in the assignment.

Valerie opened up the letter from the military department. She felt the pit of her stomach drop to the bottom of the earth before she even opened it. She knew it was news about John. As she read the first line, she thought of all of the lunches she had packed him and all the nights she tucked him in his bed and warded off the nighttime monsters. The man carrying the flag put his hand on her shoulder. She thought of the day that John signed up for the military. Her tears wet the letter. She stopped reading after the first line.

  1. What does the letter say?
  2. What is Valerie's relationship to John?

Ruby sat on the bed she shared with her husband holding a hairclip. There was something mysterious and powerful about the cheaply manufactured neon clip that she was fondling suspiciously. She didn't recognize the hairclip. It was too big to be their daughter's, and Ruby was sure that it wasn't hers. She hadn't had friends over in weeks but there was this hairclip, little and green with a few long black hair strands caught in it. Ruby ran her fingers through her own blonde hair. She had just been vacuuming when she noticed this small, bright green object under the bed. Now their life would never be the same. She would wait here until Mike returned home.

  1. Why is Ruby so affected by the hairclip?
  2. How has the hairclip affected Ruby's relationship?

"Tommy!" Mom called out as she walked in the front door. "Tommy," she continued shouting, "I sure could use some help with these groceries. There was still no reply. Mom walked into the kitchen to put the grocery bags down on the counter when she noticed shattered glass from the picture window all over the living room floor and a baseball not far from there. "I'm going to kill you, Tommy!" Mom yelled to herself as she realized that Tommy's shoes were gone.

  1. What happened to the window?
  2. Why did Tommy leave?

 

The parent has notified us that the 4th grade class also happens to be the class of Mr. Hector Perales, the father of a Chapin High School football player who was tragically killed in November as he traveled to watch his son in the Texas High School playoffs in Amarillo.

She was notified that there was only one class given this assignment, and administrators at Pasodale are addressing the situation directly with the teacher involved.

We will have a full report tonight at 5:00 p.m. with parent and YISD reaction to the homework assignment, make sure to tune in.

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Comments News Comments

HOAX. Man, people are gullible.

The real question is why is Mom wearing blue glittery nail polish...

This is one of the reasons students don't get much homework. Teachers and administrators don't want parents questioning what is being taught. Homework is the only time parents actually see what their student is learning, not at the ridiculous student lead conferences. You would think that in 2014 parents would have access to lesson plans for their students.

This should be a wake up call to parents to really get involved and think critically about your child's education.

Regardless if Common Core or not, it is the responsibility of the adult teacher to review what she will be teaching and working with the students. This is not appropriate material.

This is not the first time I have read about this or similar assignments. Teachers are given a load of papers to hand to their classes to study for the test of the season. This teacher apparently was overloaded and did not review the material. Who wrote and was paid to write this material is primarily at fault. My understanding of Common Core is to help children who move from state to state to be on the same page. In El Paso many of the children are from military families.Out of space.

The purpose Common Core is to make the smart kid as dumb as the dumb kids, resulting in equality for all!

Yippee!!!

The teacher downloaded it from the internet and yes, she probably should have read it before hand, but she didn't. I have nothing but the highest regard for Pasodale faculty and staff. They are hardworking and caring individuals.

"She probably should have read it"? Seriously? This is deserving of "the highest regard"? The resource site specifically references Common Core standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1. Stealth Common Core is deserving of "the highest regard"? Blind support of public schools is part of the problem of public schools.

Texas education administrators insist time and time again that "Common Core is not being used in Texas schools," and teh state even passed HB462 last year to preclude it -- but they're doing it anyway. This homework assignment is DISTINCTLY Common Core, not STAAR. The goal of Common Core is to instill certain feelings and beliefs in children, including teaching them that their schools/government can take care of them better than their parents.

The website that the material came from offers a wealth of content that is very helpful and informative in classrooms, you can check it out yourself at http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/free-reading-worksheets/reading-compre...
There is a discussion about the sheet in your story--looks like it may have been removed from the website. This is a perfect example of how teachers have to double check the material they use in classrooms before using with students.

Thats a common core assignment.

This is not the kind of homework for a 4th grader or any child in school. That teacher needs to have their teaching certificate raken,so they can never teach again anywhere.

Get over it! There is worse subjects that out there in school. Drug use, pregnancy, alcohol use, ponography. Children will eventually be in one of this situations in their life time. Children are exposed to worse things than such as the assignment. Parents do not understand that now days kids are more alert than years back.

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