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    US Teacher Fired for Assigning Students to Write Their Own Obituaries in Response to School Violence

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    Gun violence is a controversial issue in the United States, and the recent firing of a Florida high school teacher has added to the debate. The teacher, Jeffrey Keene, assigned his students to write their own obituaries as part of a psychology lesson ahead of an active shooter drill. The Orange County School District released a statement saying that the assignment was inappropriate and that Keene had been terminated. However, the district did not provide any further details.

    Keene, a veteran teacher who was hired at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando in January, claims that he was dismissed without explanation. He posted a copy of the assignment on Facebook, which shows that he asked his upper grade students to imagine that “today was your ‘last day’ alive” and write their own death notices. He also asked them to consider why the United States is experiencing so many mass shootings and what positive actions can be taken to decrease their number.

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    A disclaimer at the bottom of the assignment states that it is in “no way” intended to upset anyone, but some students apparently complained to school counselors. Keene argues that his challenge to students was to “get rid of all the fluff and show them what’s important in the world.” He believes that if teachers cannot talk honestly with their students, then they are not preparing them for the real world.

    Keene plans to appeal the decision, but as a probationary teacher who is not yet a member of the teachers’ union, he has less leverage to do so. Gun violence is a deeply divisive issue in the United States, and it has been the subject of many debates and controversies. Two state legislators in Tennessee were recently expelled from the assembly after interrupting debate to demand gun control measures.

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    Orlando was the site of one of the country’s deadliest mass shootings, and one of the worst US school shootings occurred a few hours’ drive south in the Miami suburb of Parkland. These tragedies have sparked a nationwide discussion about gun control and mental health.

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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