NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — What do you do when a homework assignment turns political?
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, one local father is outraged over a Staten Island teacher’s idea of a vocabulary lesson. He is taking his fight all the way to the city Department of Education.
“I couldn’t believe that of all those vocabulary sentences, that those two sentences were in there,” said Vinny Ungro.
Ungro’s sixth grade daughter’s vocabulary homework was written by her English teacher, Adria Zawatsky, at Paulo Intermediate School.
“President Trump speaks in a very superior and (blank) manner to many people. He needs to be more (blank) so that the American people respect and admire him,” the homework item said.
The missing words were “haughty” and “humble,” respectively, according to Ungro,
“I said, ‘Listen, I don’t want you answering it.’ I circled it and put a little note saying, ‘I don’t think your political opinion should be in my daughter’s mind,’ and she deducted 15 points from my daughter for not answering those questions,” Ungro said. “My daughter had no choice but to put the words that she wanted into that sentence, and she forced my daughter to write disparaging words about Donald Trump and I didn’t appreciate it.”
A spokesman with the Department of Education said the principal will be meeting with Zawatsky to determine whether she violated DOE policy.
CBS2’s Moore asked some other Staten Island parents what they thought about the assignment.
“They’re too young for that,” said Diane Cardinuto of Eltingville, “just something I don’t agree with.”
“I don’t know, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” said Ali Loiacono of Pleasant Plains. “When you really think about it, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.”
*That’s what teachers should do — just teach,” said Michael Baroz of Huguenot. “It’s like when musicians talk politics. Just shut up and sing. That’s all I want.”
And that is all Ungro says he wants too – a quality education that leaves politics out of the classroom.
Late Thursday, the DOE told CBS2 Zawatsky received a formal disciplinary letter for using “poor judgment.