A fifth-grade teacher in Missouri in on administrative leave after a controversial classroom assignment asked students to “set your price for a slave.”
In a letter to parents, Blades Elementary School Principal Jeremy Booker said the assignment was completed during class time and students were asked to consider how plantation owners traded for goods and slaves, local CBS affiliate KMOV4 reports.
The assignment stated: “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,” KMOV4 reports.
Angela Walker, a mother to a biracial child attending the elementary school, said she was shocked to find the assignment among her son’s schoolwork, and she hopes the teacher and the school district will learn from this, KMOV4 reports.
“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 said, KMOV4 reports. “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.”
The assignment included 11 other questions that asked about pricing grain, apples, milk, fish and other products, KMOV4 reports.
“The assignment was culturally insensitive,” Booker said, KMOV4 reports. “The teacher has expressed significant remorse.”
As of Monday (Dec. 9) night, the teacher, whose name has not been released, was placed on administrative leave, KMOV4 reports.
The NAACP offered to help train school staff on cultural sensitivity and has requested a formal apology from the teacher and superintendent, KMOV4 reports.
“The school district is continuing to investigate this event,” Booker said, KMOV4 reports. “I am working with district leadership to provide all Blades teachers and staff with professional development on cultural bias in the near future.”