The fifth-grade teacher at Blades Elementary School has been placed on paid administrative leave amidst backlash.
A St. Louis elementary school had to suffer the wrath of their student's parents after one fifth grade teacher handed her pupils an assignment asking them to "set your price for a slave." Now, the parents are calling for greater cultural sensitivity, reports PEOPLE. Currently, the Blades Elementary School's teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave amidst the backlash against the assignment, revealed a spokeswoman for Mehlville School District Superintendent. She also added that the outrage-causing question was actually meant to be a harmless way to teach students about market practices.
The controversial problem quickly went viral after being shared on Facebook by Lee Hart, who claimed that one of her friend's children had brought this particular assignment home from school. Sharing the picture of the question Hart wrote: A friend of mine’s child brought this home from Blades Elementary School, 5th grade. It is so wrong on so many levels🤬What do you think the plan of action should be?
This was supposedly a westward expansion lesson. Some were given food, wood, water, and...slaves!!!!!!!!!!!
As for the assignment, it read: 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. You may trade for any items you’d like. Speaking to CBS affiliate KMOV, one Blades mother, Angela Walker said, "We have to be more culturally sensitive. We can say get over a homework assignment. It’s just a homework assignment. That was 100 years ago." Walker who has a biracial child spoke to the outlet after obtaining the said question in her son’s schoolwork folder.
The principal called it "culturally insensitive." Excuse Me? Using the slave trade - selling people- to teach abt "market practices" is just insensitive? I may throw up!— Lynda Rubin (@LyndaRubin2) 11 December 2019
Mehlville teacher on administrative leave for slave trade classroom activity https://t.co/h0SescjPPF via @KMOV
"It was, but it’s still someone else’s family. Maybe there are people who don’t see the wrong in it but we need to be talking about it," she added. In an attempt to contain the outrage, Blades Principal Jeremy Booker addressed the community and wrote in a letter that the assignment was "culturally insensitive" and that the implications of the assignment are now reviewed by him after his meeting with the teacher who handed it out. "The teacher has expressed significant remorse," he continued writing. "The district is continuing to investigate this event. Also, I am working with district leadership to provide all Blades teachers and staff with professional development on cultural bias in the near future."
Geez! My American History teacher in high school probably would been executed by today’s whimpy standards for what he taught.— Justa Android (@Jackthrripper17) 11 December 2019
Meanwhile, Chris Gaines, the Mehlville School District Superintendent also issued a statement criticizing and apologizing for the incident. "Racism of any kind, even inadvertently stemming from cultural bias, is wrong and is not who we aspire to be as a school district. I am sorry and disappointed that this happened in our school," he wrote, adding, “There is no quick fix for cultural bias. We will be devoting significant time and resources to train our staff on issues related to cultural competency, implicit bias, and equity.