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Cotton Bolls

Ayhan Altun


How ironic that this eyebrow-raising story would surface on teacher appreciation week.

A white teacher in Rochester is under investigation after his class of predominately Black students accused him of teaching a slavery lesson where they were required to pick cotton and put handcuffs on. The incident occurred during a social studies class at the Rochester School of the Arts, according to CNN.

The teacher, who has been identified as Patrick Rausch, has been placed on leave as the investigation continues.

On April 24, a concerned mother named Precious Tross complained about the insensitive role play project on Facebook after her daughter informed her about the startling lesson.

“He made a mockery out of slavery,” said Tross, who also goes by Precious Morris.

“I don’t have a problem with you teaching our kids about slavery and what our ancestors went through and how they had to pick cotton, ” she continued. “Our teachers back in the day told us that, but they don’t bring in cotton and make you pick cotton seeds out of cotton.”

Rausch allegedly allowed the white students in the class to work on their Chromebooks as the Black students picked seeds out of cotton during the assignment. They were not given the option to forgo the cruel class activity.

“It made me feel bad to be a Black person,”Jahmiere O’Neal, a student who was present for the baffling lesson, told news outlets, according to AP News.

Tross’s daughter, Ja’Nasia Brown, immediately refused to participate when the teacher brought out the handcuffs and shackles.

“He was like, ‘Do it. It’s for a good grade,'” she said of the teacher’s initial response, noting how when she refused to participate again, the teacher then threatened to send her to the principal’s office or the school counselor.

Parents are now demanding for the teacher to be fired and for his license to be revoked.

The school’s Principal Kelly Nicastro said in a letter that she was taking the “allegations very seriously,” and called the lesson “extremely troubling.”

Adam Urbanski, the President of the teachers union, plans on taking legal action against Rausch pending “due process.”

“If someone departs from what they should be doing, they should suffer the consequences,” he said.

Board President Cynthia Elliott added to AP News:

“In a district of Black and brown students, it is important to be sensitive of the historical framework by which our students are engaging and learning.”


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