KATY, Texas — A seventh-grade assignment in a Texas school district asked students to deny the existence of God, a student said.
The Katy Independent School District has since apologized and the principal of West Memorial Junior High School determined the assignment wasn’t necessary for students.
But the assignment still didn’t sit well with one student.
Jordan Wooley said she answered the question “there is a God” in two ways.
“I said it was fact or opinion,” she said.
Jordan said her reading teacher said both her answers were wrong and that she had to admit God wasn’t real.
“It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom,” Jordan said.
Her mom, Chantel Wooley, couldn’t believe it.
“That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom,” said Wooley.
Jordan testified at the Katy school district’s Board of Education meeting Monday (Oct. 26).
“Today I was given an assignment in school that questioned my faith,” Jordan said at the meeting.
On Tuesday, the school district released a statement saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any student’s religious beliefs.
“Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued,” the district said in its statement.
Wooley could understand the assignment if it were given in college.
“Are we talking about impressionable 12- or 13-year-olds or are we talking about 24-year-olds in college who already have a firm grasp of the world around them?” she asked.
“I love reading so for me personally to have to fail reading because of what my beliefs are just shocked me,” Jordan said.
Jordan said the assignment was in fact graded, so she would have had to contradict her faith in order to pass.
The school district said the teacher who came up with the assignment is distraught and that it’s crucial not to vilify the teacher without knowing her and her Christian faith.
The teacher did not respond to requests for comment outside her home.
Katy is about 30 miles west of Houston. According to the school district’s website, there are more than 70,000 students attending schools in the district.
(Josh Chapin writes for KHOU-TV, Houston.)