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Another Teacher in Hot Water Over Slavery Assignment

Missouri principal sends letter to parents acknowledging 'culturally insensitive' question
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2019 11:33 AM CST
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / BrianAJackson)

(Newser) – A Missouri teacher is on administrative leave after asking fifth graders to set their price for a slave. The Blades Elementary School teacher gave an assignment in class with 12 questions that, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, were meant to educate students on colonial market practices in America; 11 of those questions had to do with setting the price for items like grain, apples, milk, and fish. But one of the questions read as follows, per KMOV:

  • "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."

Outcry ensued, with parents contacting the school after finding the work in their kids' folders. "We can say 'It's just a homework assignment,'" but that doesn't cut it, says one mother of a biracial child. "Maybe there are people who don't see the wrong in it, but we need to be talking about it." The principal sent a letter to parents and class acknowledging "the assignment was culturally insensitive" and noting "the teacher has expressed significant remorse." He or she was placed on leave Monday night, and the principal says the Mehlville School District is investigating the incident and will be providing teachers and staff with "professional development on cultural bias." The NAACP is calling for a formal apology. ((Stories like this are disturbingly common; see the latest here.)

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