Life
Teacher Asks Student To Name ‘Good’ Reasons For Slavery – Boy’s Answer Makes His Mom Proud
His mom was outraged by this question on his homework assignment, but this boy's answer has won the Internet.
Kalli Sarkin
02.06.18

The subjects we need to learn in elementary school have not changed much over the years, but the assignments continue to transform dramatically. Some schools attempt to keep up with current events by “modernizing” their homework. Other schools have failed miserably at this task. One mother was particularly upset when her fourth-grader came home with an offensive assignment.

Trameka Brown-Berry and her some, Jerome, live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Jerome is in fourth grade, and he attends Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School. One day, his teacher gave an unorthodox assignment to the class. When Jerome told his mother about it, she was astounded that the school would teach in such a way.

The question asked students to come up with three bad reasons for slavery, and three “good” ones. When Trameka saw the assignment, she was outraged. She quickly posted a picture of the paper on Facebook, asking, “Does anyone else find my fourth-grader’s homework offensive?”

Trameka Brown-Berry
Source:
Trameka Brown-Berry

Plenty of people did. “Not only was this assignment offensive,” commented Rashad Robinson, “it also minimizes the impact that slavery has had on Black people today.”

“What was good about slavery?” replied Twitter user Crystallily73. “I think this assignment was badly worded by the teacher.”

While some commenters were understandably angry about the homework, one was open-minded. “‘Good’ is in quotations,” Twitter user JHammon67 explained. “It’s possible the question is asking kids to think critically about why a culture would have slavery and how it would be defended by those who did it.”

Many people had opinions on the issue, but the most surprising response came from Jerome. This boy may be young, but he is already confident and outspoken. “I feel there is no good reason for slavery,” he wrote. His mother was extremely proud of him.

Trameka Brown-Berry
Source:
Trameka Brown-Berry

Trameka and a group of supporters called the school board to get the issue sorted out. Principal Jim Van Dellen released a statement apologizing for the inappropriate assignment.

“We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive,” he explained to the Associated Press. “The purpose of this 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.”

The assignment was permanently removed from the school’s curriculum, and Trameka has found some comfort in the ordeal. She posted on Facebook, thanking the parents and friends who had supported her in the recent situation.

Trameka Brown-Berry
Source:
Trameka Brown-Berry

“Out of a very negative situation we were able to come together as a community and stand united in support. That is so beautiful, thank you,” she wrote.

This was not a good assignment, but it did give Jerome a chance to show that he is a strong, independent thinker. The world would benefit from having more children like him.

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By Kalli Sarkin
hi@sbly.com
Kalli Sarkin is a contributing writer at Shareably. Kalli is based in Los Angeles and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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