A Missouri school district is investigating an elementary school teacher after receiving complaints about one of their assignments.
Fifth grade students at Blades Elementary School were asked to consider how much they would charge for slaves.
Better think long and hard about that one; You don’t want anyone shorting you on your literal slave labor.
The assignment, as part of a unit on westward expansion, asked that students consider the price of goods for commodities like grain, or livestock.
The task in question read,
“You own a plantation of farm and there need more workers. You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm…Set your price for a slave. These could be worth a lot.”
Parents were quickly aghast at such a question for a fifth-grade class.
The president of the local chapter of the NAACP, John Bowman, has given the organization’s official stance on this matter.
“The position of the NAACP is we need a public apology. There also needs to be some serious and immediate implicit bias, cultural bias, cultural difference training.”
School Principal, Jeremy Booker sent out a letter to parents discussing the situation. He has advised they are taking measures such as training to respect cultural bias, as well as placing the teacher on leave.
This may be too little too late, as the story spreads and people share their thoughts.
Ayeeeeee they ain’t do this 🤦🏽♀️ https://t.co/dpkgNohNPr— Ciara Jay (@_CiaraJay) December 10, 2019
yes lmfao https://t.co/PBBB4C4zKQ— el 🖤🥀 (@nihilorenz) December 10, 2019
This person wins Dummy of the Year .. https://t.co/KOEGFH7hiV— onlysandro ✵ (@onlysandro) December 10, 2019
Brains are awesome I wish this teacher had one.— Sharon (@nycwall1) December 10, 2019
There is likely a subset of people reading who will argue that this is just a learning exercise and children need to learn their history.
It’s true that certain portions of American culture aren’t properly represented in the classroom, and others are purposefully left out, especially in regard to slavery.
But the handling of this subject matter should be treated with more respect and reverence. Educating American students on the history of slavery is something that needs more care, and not represented as a throwaway question about a completely different subject.
If you want to educate people about slavery, educate people about slavery.
Don’t reduce the pain and importance by making it an innocuous question.
What kind of teacher assigns any students - let alone 5th graders - Slave trade assignment where they are comparing the price of people with lumber???— Dave Ragland, PhD (@theraglandpage) December 10, 2019
Some white folk really want this as a future... #decolonizeEducation #moreBlackTeachers #slavetraining https://t.co/Ev8H57srl4
Fantasy that went overboard— Mimi Chan (@borodostone) December 10, 2019
Black children never get to just be children:— W.L. Lewis (@ArtMusicLife) December 11, 2019
Missouri elementary school teacher placed on leave after assigning students to decide prices for slaves https://t.co/rVLtAZjU6n (via @thehill)#Racism #ChildAbuse pic.twitter.com/YclkjdScae
While the teacher who created the assignment wasn’t named, some sources have said they’ve worked at the school for four years. It is unknown at this time what disciplinary action will be taken.