Wisconsin Teacher Asks Students To List Three Good Things About Slavery

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The principal at the private school Our Redeemer Lutheran School has had to issue a public apology after an English teacher asked his fourth graders to list three good things about racism for a homework assignment. What could possibly go wrong with this assignment, amirite?

To be fair, the English teacher did ask for three negatives against slavery, as well. While there are many more reasons than three for slavery being “bad”, WHAT could the students possibly answer about the positives? Unless they were supposed to talk about the positives for the slave owners, the slave traders, and plantation owners there was absolutely NOTHING positive about slavery.

Principal Jim Van Dellen issued an apology that read in part,

The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that slavery is acceptable.

Here is the entire letter issued to parents:


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Mr. Van Dellen, parents have no problem with their children’s teachers discussing slavery and encouraging conversation. However, when the homework is written this poorly, the intent is lost. The principal said that the obvious answer was “nothing” but the response area was bulleted. You can see the assignment below:

The apology was only written after outrage from some parents (I would have been among them). Trameka Brown-Berry’s son is in the class and stated,

It’s highly offensive and insensitive. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe they sent something like that home. Not only was my son in an awful position, but the students who weren’t black — that’s what keeps racism going.

Another parent suggested, “And for it to be a Christian school, they could say something like, ‘what are three good things we can do to prevent slavery from happening?” We honestly don’t even have to bring religion into the matter: this was terribly written and does not promote any type of meaningful conversation.

However, the principal still insists that they will change the assignment and that they will “better communicate” lessons with parents – thereby placing blame on those who rightly perceived this as a negative exercise. Because, you know, parents are just “touchy” about things like slavery.


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