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8th-Grade Slavery Homework Leaves Folks 'Flabbergasted'

'Create a list of expectations for your family's slaves,' read Tenn. assignment
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2019 8:21 AM CST
Updated Mar 3, 2019 1:07 PM CST
The homework assignment at Sunset Middle School has since been pulled.   (Getty Images/diego_cervo)

(Newser) – Thursday's headlines revolved around Virginia's first lady asking African-American students to imagine being slaves; Friday's headlines center on asking students to imagine they were the slave owners themselves. Per the Tennessean, that ask came via an 8th-grade homework assignment at Sunset Middle School in Williamson County, Tenn., in which students were instructed Wednesday to contemplate and report back on this directive: "Your family owns slaves. Create a list of expectations for your family's slaves." The handwritten assignment, which touched on immigration and child labor as well, also included instructions to "create a PSA informing citizens of hazards living in urban areas" and "create a political cartoon depicting immigrant labor in the United States."

Fox News describes family members of some students as being "flabbergasted" at the homework at the mostly white school, per the state's education department. Dan Fountain showed a picture of his sister's homework sheet on Twitter, telling the Tennessean that the way many of the questions were worded "doesn't benefit anyone." He says some questions "essentially [let] children run wild with their conscious or unconscious bias of other people." The principal and district superintendent have offered their apologies for the assignment (WTVF has the superintendent's letter in its entirety), as have Susan Hooper and Kim Best, the two teachers who handed it out. "The assignment was insensitive, and it did not promote Sunset Middle's goal of an inclusive environment," the pair said, adding they'd be personally apologizing to their students. (This isn't the first time slavery assignments have gone wrong.)

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