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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Who makes it on the spaceship?

A middle-school assignment has sparked controversy by asking students who they’d leave behind if there were only eight seats on a spaceship fleeing a doomed Earth.

Usually, these exercises pit the brilliant, but aging artist and the disabled humanitarian against younger, physically fitter candidates for survival. This list, assigned by a teacher at a Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio middle school, adds race, religion, sexual orientation, English fluency, beliefs and victim status. Students are asked to pick the most “deserving” rather than those most likely to help the group survive.

One candidate was a “female Native American manager” who doesn’t speak English. Another was a  “female movie star who was recently the victim of sexual assault.”

I’d be recruiting more spaceship passengers. The “militant African-American medical student” is the only one with useful skills. We need healthy people with engineering, farming and medical skills. I’d suggest eight fertile women in their 20s and a few dozen vials of assorted sperm.

Who would you recruit for your spaceship?

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