Teacher keeps job after asking kids to list ‘positives’ of slavery
A middle school teacher in Texas who asked students to detail the “positive” aspects of slavery will return to the classroom, school officials said.
An unidentified teacher at Great Hearts Monte Vista in San Antonio will keep their job at the school after giving eighth-grade history students an assignment in April titled, “The Life of Slaves: A Balanced View,” setting off a firestorm of criticism after a parent posted it onto social media, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
“After conducting a fair and thorough review we found that, while the assignment was certainly not consistent with Great Hearts philosophy, there was no harmful intent on the part of the teacher and the broader context of the treatment of slavery in the course left no ambiguity regarding its immorality,” Great Hearts Texas Academies Superintendent Aaron Kindel wrote parents this week. “As such, the teacher will be re-instated after training is completed.”
The unidentified teacher had been placed on leave after the assignment, which caught the eye of an enraged parent who said the assignment was simply over the top.
“What the hell is this revisionist history lesson trying to do here?!?” the parent wrote on Facebook. “What positives? This is unacceptable and gross. There will most definitely be a parent/student/teacher/administrator meeting taking place ASAP!!!”
The student listed “forced strenuous labor, rape and forced religion” among the negative aspects of slavery. Beneath the positive column, the student wrote “N/A.”
Comedy Central host Trevor Noah also chimed in on the assignment, calling it so bad that it nearly seemed “like a trap to find the racist kids in class.”
“It’s like, ‘OK kids, what were the positive aspects of slavery?’” Noah said on May 2. “Trick question! Go to detention, you little grand wizard!”
Kindel later clarified in a letter to parents that “there is no debate about slavery” and apologized for the assignment, saying just one teacher passed it out in classrooms. Kindel also said the district would remove the textbook associated with the worksheet, “Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States.”
But the textbook publisher, Pearson, distanced itself from the worksheet, saying it had no part in the controversial assignment.
“The worksheet in question was not created by, endorsed, or encouraged in any way by Pearson,” spokesman Scott Overland told the newspaper. “We do not support this point of view and strongly condemn the implication that there was any positive aspect to slavery.”
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