‘How Would You Justify Ending Your Own Life?’: Naive UWS Teacher Thinks Suicide Notes Are Great Homework Idea

Like countless English teachers before her, Jessica Barrish of the Upper West Side’s York Prep asked her students to write a first-person narrative in the perspective of a character.

So, why are parents up in arms over such a rudimentary assignment?

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Ms. Barrish’s students, some as young as 14, had to write a first-person justification of suicide through the eyes of May Boatwright from the novel The Secret Life of Bees.

In the novel, May Boatwright, a very depressed and emotionally unstable character, writes a suicide letter to her sisters that read, “It is my time to die and your time to live. Don’t mess it up.”

Ms. Barrish’s students had to answer questions such as “how would you justify ending your own life?” and “What reasons would you give?” as if they were the character. Parents were not pleased.

“We were pretty stunned at the scope of the assignment,” a father of a ninth-grade student at the school told The Post. “We thought this was such an outrageous assignment for a 14-year-old to get. We pay a lot of money to send our kids to the school”

Tuition for the 6th – 12th grade school will amount to $41,000 in the coming year, reported The Post.

This homework assignment is not the only assignment to receive bad marks from New York City parents. In February of this year, a PS 59 math teacher gave her fourth grade students word problems about slaves and whippings, reported DailyIntel. Suicide, it seems, is also out of bounds.

‘How Would You Justify Ending Your Own Life?’: Naive UWS Teacher Thinks Suicide Notes Are Great Homework Idea