Homework Assignment In Wisconsin School Asked Students: “What Are 3 Good Reasons For Slavery?”

January 11, 2018  |  

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Do you remember getting homework in 4th grade that asked you to write three good reasons for slavery? Yeah, me neither.

But that’s exactly what happened in Wauwasota, Wisconsin. According to the local Fox 6 news affiliate, Our Redeemer Lutheran School, a private Christian school, sent its 4th graders home with that social studies assignment on Monday. One mother, Trameka Brown-Berry, posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook asking followers, “Does anyone else find my 4th grader’s homework offensive?”

Brown-Berry’s 9-year old son answered the question by writing “I feel there is no good reason for slavery” and went on to explain the negative effects the institution had on the enslaved. Brown-Berry told Fox 6 that “Not only was my son in an awful position, but the students who weren’t Black — that’s what keeps racism going.”

Principal Jim Van Dellen admitted on Tuesday that the assignment was inappropriate, and in a letter to parents, he expressed that the intention of the assignment was not clearly communicated to students and parents:

“On behalf of Our Redeemer Lutheran School, we sincerely apologize for the fact that an assignment given to a 4th grade class yesterday was not clearly explained to students and their parents. The result was a strong call to action to address the situation. We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive. The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that ANY slavery is acceptable – a concept that goes against our core values and beliefs about the equality and worth of people of all races. We are committed to instilling those values in our students and are very sorry that the assignment as presented was contrary to our values and teachings.

“We appreciate the parent who brought this issue to our attention and are working with them. Moving forward, Our Redeemer will redouble our efforts to anticipate and communicate with parents prior to sensitive subjects being discussed in class. This particular assignment is no longer a part of our curriculum and we are committed [to] working with our families and our teachers regarding this sensitive issue.”

As noted in the letter, Brown-Berry was the only parent who addressed this with the Principal. In that same story by Fox 6, she encourages other parents to make their voices heard when they have questions about any school-related activities or assignments by saying, “Speak up. Tell your story. That is how you go about change. That’s what I was trying to model for my son.”

Principal Van Dellen and Brown-Berry met yesterday to discuss her concerns in person. She posted a summary on Facebook of what they addressed, which you can read here.

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