Educator's controversial tweet on teaching Thanksgiving goes viral

WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina -- Wake County Schools Director of Equity Lauryn Mascarenaz shared a firm message to all teachers in a tweet that has gone viral:

"Teachers repeat after me: I will not have students make 'Indian' feathers/clothes. I will not culturally appropriate an entire people for 'cute' activities. I will tell students the truth about this country's relationship with Indigenous people."

On Tuesday, parents and neighbors reacted to the post.

"We want to teach our children about our history," Lori Lyle said. "But we don't want to offend. I don't think feathers would be offensive in my book."

"I think we should shelter our children," said Jessica Vazquez, the mother to a 5-year-old. "Let them play with turkeys and learn about Indian culture."

On Facebook, Jacklyn Coats wrote from personal experience in a post that reads in part: "As a Native American, let me assure you. You didn't learn anything factual. You learned a fairy tale."

The state board of education governs the curriculum around America's history and the origins of Thanksgiving.

The board provides grade-level guidelines and resources for teachers to consider in lesson plans.
Wake County Schools said it supports the controversial tweet.

A spokesperson said this week that teachers are focusing on the spirit of Thanksgiving emphasizing gratitude, generosity, family, and food -- not necessarily props.

For example, at one elementary school, second-graders researched their family trees and shared information about their heritage. Twelve cultures were represented.

Wake County Schools said their educators also teach in a manner that is age-appropriate, respectful and an accurate representation of the stories and experiences of indigenous people.
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