Teacher placed on administrative leave for ‘set your price for a slave’ class assignment

Mohammed Awal December 11, 2019
Picture: Fox

It started with a student from Naperville, Illinois listing on Craigslist his black classmate for sale with the caption “Slave for sale (Naperville).”

And now it’s a disturbing classroom assignment in which fifth-graders were asked to flirt with the idea of putting a price tag on slaves during a social studies class.

The question among 12 others reads: “You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers. You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves.

“Set your price for a slave. _____________ These could be worth a lot. You may trade for any items you’d like.”

The Mehlville School District has launched investigations into the incident which happened at Blades Elementary School, St Louis. The district has since placed the teacher on administrative leave.

The president of the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP labeled the assignment sad and unacceptable, reports Fox 2.

“The position of the NAACP is we need a public apology,” said John Bowman. “There also needs to be some serious and immediate implicit bias, cultural bias, cultural difference training,” he added.

Outraged by the nature of the question, one mother Angela Walker described the questioning as shocking. A mother of a biracial child, Walker found the work in her son’s folder.

“We have to be more culturally sensitive. We can say get over a homework assignment. It’s just a homework assignment. That was 100 years ago,” KMOV 4  quoted Walker as saying.

“It was but it’s still someone else’s family. Maybe there are people who don’t see the wrong in it but we need to be talking about it,” she added.

The principal of Blades Elementary School, Jeremy Booker described the assignment “culturally insensitive.”

He said the teacher has expressed “significant remorse.” He was placed on administrative leave Monday night.

“The school district is continuing to investigate this event,” Booker said. “I am working with district leadership to provide all Blades teachers and staff with professional development on cultural bias in the near future.”

In a statement addressing outrage, Mehlville Superintendent Chris Gaines said: “Racism of any kind, even inadvertently stemming from cultural bias, is wrong and is not who we aspire to be as a school district. 

“I am sorry and disappointed that this happened in our school. There is no quick fix for cultural bias. We will be devoting significant time and resources to train our staff on issues related to cultural competency, implicit bias, and equity.”

Last month a 14-year-old student was charged with a hate crime for placing a racist ad on Craigslist offering for sale his black classmate.

The white male student — whose name has not been released because he is a juvenile — was charged after appearing before a juvenile court presided over by Judge Anthony Coco.

According to a press release from the DuPage County State Attorney’s office, the teenager took the photograph of his black classmate while at school and posted an ad on Craigslist with the photograph of the victim accompanied with the caption “Slave for sale (Naperville)” followed by an offensive racial slur. 

The juvenile has been charged with two counts of Hate Crime (one Class 3 Felony and one Class 4 Felony) and one count of Disorderly Conduct (Class C Misdemeanor). His next court appearance is scheduled for December 18, 2019.   

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: December 11, 2019


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