Bottom line, she and the district curriculum specialist both agreed with me. The worksheet the teacher created to go along with the social studies book they are reading emphasized the wrong things and they will be working with her to re-do it. The subject was that of immigration in general and the background on the Mormons was a small part designed to show the cause and effect of why they decided to push further west than the current boundaries of the United States.
Additionally, the principal sent me a photo copy of the chapter the questionable worksheet had been created from. It was refreshing to see how far-reaching the subject matter was with the following section headings:
Who Were the Mormons?
To the Rocky Mountains
The Mormon Trail
Planning the Trip
The First Two Pioneer Children
The Advance Party
The Salt Lake Valley at Last
African Americans Come to Utah
People by the Thousands
The Long Trip
A Daily Routine
Working on the Trail
Crossing the Rivers
Don't Get Hurt!
Handcarts Across the Trail
My favorite part is the last page of the chapter with questions on "What Do You Think?"
- Do we have the right in America to join any religion we want to, or join none at all?
- What could help us be more tolerant of people who believe differently than we do?
- Can you think of other groups in history who have moved to new places so they could live their religion without being persecuted?
- There are many different kinds of persecution. Talk about what it means. Talk about why we should try to treat other people fairly.
- What would you have disliked about the trip to Utah? What would you have liked?
- Can you remember where in the West the pioneers who were not Mormons going?
It was so refreshing to be thanked for bringing such a matter to the attention of the principal. I had feared I would be labeled a troublemaker. And now I know that at least the educators at my local school really do have the best interests of my child's education at heart. (And that they are in fact teaching diverse subject matter!)
I even got a follow-up email several days later making sure I had received the copy of the chapter and whether I had any additional questions. I am now the biggest fan of our principal and know that she was sincere in telling me she wants parents to bring these kinds of concerns to her. If only all educators were this committed.
Go me for standing up for what I knew wasn't right and knowing I made a difference in my child's education because of it.