High school immigration assignment faces backlash

An immigration assignment at Erwin High School in Asheville, N.C. has drawn the ire of many after images of the assignment — including posters depicting negative comments directed toward illegal aliens — went viral on social media. Brian Gonzales, chair of the social studies department at the high school, told local ABC affiliate News 13 that the assignment was part of a 12th grade civics and economics class and does not reflect the opinions of students:

“They were focusing on not only the history of our immigration here for over 300 years, but also the dynamics within our current culture and our current climate, so those students were reflecting on society,” Gonzales said. “We made about 30 and 24 were positive, and I think about 4 or 5 were of the negative variety. However, those were not reflective of the student.”

Thousands of people on Facebook are commenting and sharing a collage of the negative posters made by students.

“It was hurtful. ‘Go home trash’ and ‘immigrants, go home,’ things like that, it was hurtful. I had more concern with the Latino population at Erwin High,” Angel Redmond, a freshman parent, said. “We all want to have our questions answered like what was the lesson plan?”

Gonzales does admit placing these posters on hallway walls was a mistake. The posters that were up less than 5 hours on Monday because of backlash from the community.

“We definitely apologize for having those posted outside the classroom. They should’ve been kept inside the classroom,” Gonzales said. “We understand everybody’s thoughts and concerns on that.”

However, school officials are defending the assignment itself, saying it was taken out of context by students and others not in that classroom.

The assignment encouraged “students to express their opinions by making slogans or bumper stickers.” So, in truth, the outcry against the assignment was really an outcry against the right to freely express an opinion, no matter how unpopular that opinion may be.