There is no aspect of the slave era that can be trivialised. The slaves had gruesome experiences and some families are still coming to terms with their past and demanding slavery reparations. So, a social studies assignment to eighth-grade students on sharecroppers in cotton fields should have been a step in the right direction to educate these children on how African Americans had to work tirelessly during the slave trade era.
However, the John W. Dodd Middle School teacher behind that assignment has received backlash from the way she framed the assignment, with some parents calling it ‘insensitive’, reports NBC News.
While explaining the assignment to them, the unidentified teacher said to the students, “don’t bore me” and instructed them to “write something funny” under the photos of the slaves from the post-Civil War era working in the fields.
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Another eighth-grader, who has a friend in the said teacher’s class, was disturbed by the assignment given to her friend and told her grandmother, Darlene McCurty about it while showing pictures of the work to her.
Darlene took to Facebook to post about the assignment which got about 2000 shares. The screenshots of the worksheets had captions like “black girls work hard play hard,” “Us black people need to get out,” “getting that money” and “black girl magic.”
The Freeport school community placed several angry calls to the school to express their outrage on the assignment given to the children.
The teacher was placed on administrative duties after the frantic calls from parents made the Freeport school district launch an investigation into the matter.
The Superintendent of Freeport Public schools, Dr. Kishore Kunchman, condemned the teacher’s actions, referring to them as “Insensitive, trivial and poorly conceived.”
“Let me be perfectly clear: Our investigation has determined that this lesson was poorly conceived and executed,” Kuncham said in his statement. “The teacher instructed three separate classes of students to develop captions for photos of post-war sharecroppers,” he told NBC News.
“Aside from the fact that this is a poor lesson, it is an insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country, and it is unacceptable.”
There has been a formal apology from the teacher which was read by Kunchman during a school board meeting, News 12 reports.
The apology read, “It is with the deepest sense of respect that I apologize to the students, families and larger Freeport community for my insensitive words and actions last week.”
“As a teacher and fellow member of this school community, it is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions.
“I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust from my students, colleagues and the community.”
The teacher and her union representatives are in talks with the school district leaders. The leaders say they are now ‘finalizing agreements’ on the next course of action.