‘Make it funny’: Teacher assigns Reconstruction report, now under investigation

FREEPORT, N.Y. (WCBS/CNN) - A middle school teacher is under investigation and apologizing after giving her students an assignment that many say is insensitive.

The Long Island teacher assigned a project on the Reconstruction era after the Civil War, but told her students to “make it funny.”

The 8th grade students at J.W. Dodd Middle School were supposed to be getting a lesson in a painful chapter of history: The Reconstruction era, when freed slaves struggled as sharecroppers.

But that assignment, shared thousands of times on social media, outraged parents after claims that a white teacher told those students to write captions on the photos to "make it funny" and "don't bore me."

The school's superintendent released a statement calling it a "poorly conceived and executed" lesson. The superintendent acknowledged the teacher told three separate classes to come up with "funny" captions.

"An insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country and it is unacceptable," the statement read.

But some parents are forgiving of the veteran teacher.

"It was a poor judgment probably and my daughter is in the class - my daughter is not affected," a parent said.

"She's a good teacher. She didn't mean it like that. Some people took offense to it and I know how she meant it," said a student.

The teacher did not respond to a request for a comment, but the district shared her apology for what she calls her insensitive words.

"It is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my ... interactions. I failed to do so last week," the apology read.

The teacher is removed from teaching duties while officials finalize a disciplinary agreement.

“What would make you even say something like that, give an assignment like that in the first place? It’s just unthinkable,” said another adult.

In the meantime, the superintendent is asking for patience through the investigation, reaffirming the school's commitment to tolerance.

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