Students asked to list 'positive' and 'negative' parts of slavery
Eighth graders at a Texas charter school "were asked to reflect on the differing sides of slavery" during an American History class, an official admitted Thursday.
Students at Great Hearts Monte Vista in San Antonio were recently assigned a worksheet titled "The Life of Slaves: A Balanced View," according to the Express-News. They were asked to list the "positive" and "negative" parts of slavery.
The assignment was posted on social media by a concerned parent on Wednesday, and was widely shared. Other parents expressed their concern for the assignment, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro called it "unacceptable."
"To be clear, there is no debate about slavery," Great Hearts Superintendent Aaron Kindel wrote in a lengthy statement. "It is immoral and a crime against humanity."
The teacher involved in the incident was placed on leave, Kindel said, and an audit will be conducted on the "Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States" textbook that was involved.
"If we deem this textbook imprudent we will permanently remove and replace it with a history book that accurately reflects our values," Kindel wrote.
The company that published the textbook said in a statement that "the worksheet in question was not created by, endorsed, or encouraged in any way by Pearson."
"We do not support this point of view and strongly condemn the implication that there was any positive aspect to slavery," Director of Media Relations Scott Overland wrote in an email.
The school assignment was widely criticized online. Another teacher wrote on Facebook that "this is a poorly written assignment that lacks critical thinking skills on the part of the teacher. Nothing about this was reflective."
"Positive Aspects of slave life?" a Twitter user wrote. "Why would anyone think that's an acceptable idea or is the exercise to show how absolutely abhorrent slavery was?"
"My god, that's like asking for positive aspects of being in a concentration/death camp. Unbelievable," wrote another person on Twitter.