Elementary School Assignment Asks Students To 'Set Your Price For A Slave'

A Missouri elementary school teacher was placed on leave after giving students a "culturally insensitive assignment" about the American slave trade. The assignment was given to fifth-grade students at Blade Elementary School in Mehlville and asked them to imagine they owned a plantation and were involved in the slave trade industry. They were then asked to come up with a price to sell the slaves.

“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.”

The rest of the assignment deals with trading other items, such as grain, fish, and lumber.

When school officials learned of the assignment, they placed the teacher on leave and launched an investigation.

Parents and local leaders were outraged about the assignment.

"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," Angela Walker, the mother of a biracial child, told KTVI. "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 local chapter of the NAACP is demanding an apology from the school district and wants to see staff members undergo bias training.

“There also needs to be some serious and immediate implicit bias, cultural bias, cultural difference training," said John Bowman, the president of the St. Louis County Chapter of the NAACP.

The school's principal, Jeremy Booker, sent a letter to parents apologizing for the incident and said that the teacher "expressed significant remorse" about the assignment. 

"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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