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Fourth-Grader's Slavery Assignment Sparks Backlash (Photo)

Fourth-Grader's Slavery Assignment Sparks Backlash (Photo) Promo Image

A homework assignment from a Wisconsin elementary school sparked outrage when a teacher asked fourth-graders to list "good" reasons for slavery.

Fourth-grade students at Milwaukee's Our Redeemer Lutheran School were assigned to write about slavery for their homework, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The students were asked in the assignment to list "3 'good' reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons."

Concerned parent Trameka Brown-Berry posted the homework assignment to Facebook on Jan. 9, criticizing the school for asking her child to defend slavery.

"Does anyone else find my 4th grader's homework offensive?" wrote Trameka in her post, including an image of the assignment given to her son, Jerome.

When prompted to provide "good" reasons for slavery, Jerome wrote, "I feel there is no good reason for slavery, that's why I did not write."

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The post sparked outrage from commenters who called the assignment "offensive" and "oppressive."

"His answer addressed all forms of slavery, race was not the issue," wrote one commenter. "This child should be praised for having the fortitude to seeing that his teacher's question had no good in it at any cost ... his grade. Praise that baby."

"As a teacher, I would have looked at that assignment and would have been very offended," said another. "Even understanding the purpose of the assignment and what she was trying to accomplish. I am still offended and I feel some type of way."

Jim Van Dallen, an administrator for the school, said that school administrators were "in active conversations with parents" over the homework, which he called an "unintentionally, poorly worded assignment."

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Van Dellen added that the assignment would no longer be part of the curriculum, according to KPRC.

Van Dellen and the school's principal senior pastor Andrew Steinke apologized to parents in a letter.

"On behalf of Our Redeemer Lutheran School, we sincerely apologize for the fact that an assignment given to a fourth-grade class yesterday was not clearly explained to students and their parents," read the letter.

"The result was a strong call to action to address the situation," the message continued. "We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive.The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that ANY slavery is acceptable -- a concept that goes against our core values and beliefs about the equality and worth of people of all races."

Trameka said she was relieved the situation could be resolved.

"Out of a very negative situation, we were able to take  to resolve this issue," said the mom. "That is so beautiful, thank you."

"Speak up, tell your story and voice your opinion because that is how you go about change," added Trameka. "And that is what I was trying to model for my son."

Sources: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, KPRC, Trameka Brown-Berry/Facebook / Featured Image: woodlywonderworks/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Trameka Brown-Berry/Facebook, U.S. Department of Education/Flickr

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