A Missouri elementary school has issued an apology after one of its teachers asked their students to “set a price for a slave” for a school assignment.
According to ABC 7, a fifth-grade class at Blades Elementary School in Mehlville was given an assignment called the “Colonial Market” and were required to set prices for several items such as lumber, tar, wool, milk, tomatoes, and other goods. The last question on the assignment asked them to set a price for their “slaves” since they were owners of a plantation.
“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.”
Principal Jeremy Booker sent a letter home to parents, calling the assignment “culturally insensitive” and said the teacher expressed remorse. The unnamed teacher is currently on administrative leave.
‘This weekend, I became aware of an assignment that was provided to fifth-grade students in Social Studies. The assignment, which was completed during class time, attempted to address market practices. As part of both the Missouri Learning Standards for fifth-grade Social Studies and the fifth-grade Mehlville School District curriculum, students were learning about having goods, needing goods and obtaining goods and how that influenced early settlement in America. Some students who participated in this assignment were prompted to consider how plantation owners traded for goods and slaves.
The assignment was culturally insensitive. I appreciate the parents who notified me of this assignment. I met with the teacher this morning to discuss the purpose of the assignment, the teacher’s interpretation of curriculum standards, and the impact the activity could have on students.
The teacher has expressed significant remorse. 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. We are working together to ensure all students and families feel valued and respected at Blades Elementary.”
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