Third grade homework: Should U.S. put “illegal aliens” to death?

A troubling homework assignment at a Georgia school recently asked third-graders, “What is an illegal alien?” and whether the U.S. should put them to death, force them to work in the army or shoot them into outer space.

The controversial “reading assignment” caught the attention of Kelly Avalos after her 9-year-old brother asked for help with his homework.

“The homework assignment was not appropriate,” said Avalos to CNN. “The questions and story were disturbing, and I felt offended by what was asked. My brother is in the third grade, and I don’t feel he needs to be reading things such as putting another human to death because of their legal status … the idea upsets me,” she said.

The assignment was given to students at the Chesney Elementary School in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta.

Apparently school officials agree with Avalos and note the mishap. Gwinnett County Public Schools spokesperson Jorge Quintana said the first year teacher, who happens to be Latina, did not use good judgment in choosing the assignment for her students.

“Teachers have the option to use additional and supplemental material for education purposes,” said Quintana. “But this particular material was not approved by the school district.”

He said the school system has established procedures to review educational materials that teachers select for the classrooms. However, that process was overlooked and the individual teacher obtained the material without approval by school administrators.

After outrage by parents, community and immigrant rights activists, the online publisher,, where the teacher got the material, pulled the assignment and said it is no longer available.

The websites creators said in a written statement to CNN that they had received “a lot of feedback” about the article. “The question that was discussed, we felt was in poor judgment and has been removed. The main goal of the article was to teach comprehension and also that people need permission before going to another country.”

Quintana said the teacher could face reprimand and receive additional training to avoid similar incidents. It’s unclear if the teacher will be suspended or if legal action will be sought.

Avalos hopes parents will be more vigilant regarding what their children bring home as homework. Reading assignments like these actually mold children’s minds, she said.

Photo: Pepe Lozano/PW


Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.