Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

"Three good reasons for slavery" homework assignment sparks backlash in Wauwatosa

Demonstrators most of whom are students who walked out of their classrooms today protest outside of the City Hall building Getty Images SHARE
Bennie Garza | 12 January, 2018, 22:25

Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Wisconsin recently had to apologize after a teacher gave a decidedly improper assignment to 4th grade English students: Give 3 reasons why slavery was "good", and 3 reasons why it was bad.

In a statement to ABC News affiliate WISN News, the school's principal, Jim Van Dellen, said an apology letter was sent to parents, and the teacher did not explain the assignment correctly.

The educator's lapse of judgment came to light after Trameka Brown-Berry shared her son assignment on Facebook and asked if others felt it was inappropriate.

"For it to be a Christian school, they could have said something like, 'What are three good things we can do to prevent slavery from happening?'" said Andrea Michel with Safe Place Meeting Group. They signed the letter, which Brown-Berry said she helped write.

WKYC-TV reported that after receiving severe backlash for the homework, school administrator Jim Van Dellen, in a telephonic interview on January 10, clarified the school's stance on the subject and said that the assignment was an "unintentionally, poorly worded assignment" and that the school administration is "in active conversation with the parents".

Brown-Berry, in a different post, appreciated the quick response from the school administrator and revealed that Van Dellen addressed all her concerns and apologized for the assignment too. Jerome, for his part, responded to the slavery question, "I feel like there is no good reason for slavery that's why I did not write". I was in shock.

In a letter to parents, Van Dellen wrote: "The goal of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that slavery is acceptable".

School principal Jim Van Dellen says the assignment was meant to spark debate in class but admits it was out of line. "That's what keeps racism going", Brown-Berry said. She said it's good for students to learn about slavery but that the assignment's question was shocking.

The school also did not clarify whether the teacher who issued the assignment was penalized for her ill-thought-out act.



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