A seventh grade student in Texas reported her teacher to district officials for allegedly instructing students that God is a “myth.”
In a five-minute, tape-recorded statement to the Katy school board, Jordan Wooley, 12, a student at West Memorial Junior High School, says her reading teacher was leading students in an exercise designed to distinguish between statements that are an”opinion,” a “factual claim” or a “commonplace assertion,” according to KTRK-TV, the ABC affiliate in Houston.
To the statement “There is a God,” Wooley told KTRK she answered that it was both a “factual claim” and “opinion.”
Wooley says the teacher disputed that answer.
“She told anyone who said fact or opinion is wrong and that God is only a myth,” Wooley says in her statement. “She started telling kids that they were completely wrong and when kids would argue she had told them that we would get in trouble.”
She added: “When I tried to argue she told me to prove it and I tried to offer things such as the Bible and stories that I’ve read before from people who have died and went to Heaven, but have come back and told their stories.”
Wooley says the discussion became a heated classroom argument that prompted one child to slam her books on her desk and another student to go home crying. When students asked the teacher why they were led to believe that God “is true if he is untrue,” Wooley says, the teacher told students to ask their pastors.
“For her to tell me my religion was wrong shocked me,” Wooley says. “To me there is a God.”
Wooley, meanwhile, refused to label the statement on her assignment an opinion, writing an “F” on her paper for “Factual.”
Afterward, she texted her mother from school about the incident, according to Fox affiliate KRIV in Houston.
“The majority of the kids believed in God,” Jordan’s mother told KRIV, “and they’re being told by their teacher that there’s no God.”
A furious Chantel Wooley, whose family is Methodist, filed a complaint with her daughter’s principal Monday afternoon and then she allowed her daughter to report her complaint to the Katy school board hours later. She told ABC affiliate KTRK that the by writing that God is not real the teacher — who has not been identified — “infringed” on her child’s “rights.”
“In New York, California, Vermont, the liberal states, I could totally see this as happening,” Wooley told KRIV. “But in Houston, Texas, where it’s red, white, and blue, and stars all over, and God bless the USA, and ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’, you know, Texas is messing with my kid.”
Wooley’s decision to report her teacher has garnered praise on social media, including from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
After Wooley concluded her remarks to the school board on Monday night, Superintendent Alton Frailey told her he is “truly sorry that you feel that your faith was questioned.”
“What’s going on is that the principal was made aware of this today and is going to have a chance to work on that as per district policies and procedures,” he adds on the video. “We definitely will look into that. Thank you very much. It was very brave of you. Thank you, honey. Good job.”
A statement released by the school district about the incident says the activity was “intended to encourage critical thinking skills and dialogue” and “not intended to question or challenge any student’s religious beliefs as reported by some media outlets.”
The teacher is distraught by this incident, as some commentary has gone as far as to vilify her without knowing her, her Christian faith, or the context of the classroom activity. Still, this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued. As a result, the activity will no longer be used by the school, and appropriate personnel action will be taken. The school regrets any misconceptions that may have resulted from this teacher-developed classroom activity and assures its school community that the religious beliefs of all students and staff are welcomed and valued at Memorial Junior High.”