A Georgia school was forced to revise its class plans after complaints about an assignment that asked fourth-grade students to defend the forced resettlement of Native Americans in the 1830s.
Students at Georgia Cyber Academy — an accredited, online, tuition-free public charter school — were given the task as part of their study of Andrew Jackson, president from 1829 to 1837.
Jackson in 1830 signed the Indian Removal Act, which ordered Native Americans living in Tennessee to move to Oklahoma. An estimated 100,000 people were forced to move, and 15,000 died along the way.
The students had the task of writing two letters.
“Write a letter to President Andrew Jackson from the perspective of an American settler,” asked one mission.
Andrew Jackson, president from 1829 to 1837, ordered Native Americans to be forcibly removed from their ancestral lands
“Explain why you think removing the Cherokee will help the United States grow and prosper.”
The second letter should be written from the opposite perspective.
“Write a letter to President Andrew Jackson from the perspective of a Cherokee Indian. Describe the conditions on the Path of Tears and their effects on your tribe.
Jennifer Martin, a relative from Virginia, told Insider she was angered by what she saw as “prioritizing the feelings of settlers and colonizers as more important than real, real history.”
She added, “If this type of content could happen in a Georgia state-funded charter school, it could easily happen in any public school, and I think people should be aware of the how quickly we are moving to that kind of atmosphere in America schools.
“The truth of American history, and what happened to Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans and other people of color, should not be whitewashed.”
This image, The Trail of Tears, was painted by Robert Lindneux in 1942. It commemorates the suffering of the Cherokee people under forced eviction
The school said it had reviewed the material and decided to change the structure of the lesson.
They said headteachers “concluded this was not an appropriate question to use in our classrooms”.
The school added: ‘Although there is often a benefit to asking students to consider all perspectives in a social studies course – and it should be noted that the next question in the series asked students to also argue from the opposite point of view (screenshot attached) – we believe there are more appropriate ways to teach this topic.