An Oakville, Missouri schoolteacher is still on payroll after assigning a “set your price” slave trade assignment. The racist and extremely tone-deaf assignment was given to a group of fifth graders at the Blades Elementary School. A photo of the assignment and its’ instructions surfaced the net on Sunday and has caused much confusion because at what point was slavery ever a joking matter or a trivial game to be xeroxed on a worksheet?
“You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers,” the work problem reads. “You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves.”
The assignment goes on to allow students to make up their own price for a slave and advises students that “these could be worth a lot.”
The rest of the assignment prompts students to set prices for items like wool, wood, grains and lumber. Yes, in 2019 a children’s homework assignment said the trading of agriculture was comparable to the institution of slavery and trading black people. Upon completion of the ridiculous assignment, students were asked to reflect on the prices they chose. “Do you think you set your item at a good price to sell? Why or what not?” the assignment read.
According to Fox6, the school’s principal, Jeremy Booker, issued a letter to the families of Blades Elementary School on Monday, calling the assignment “culturally insensitive.” He also claimed that measures would be taken to ensure that teachers and staff are aware of and respected “cultural biases” going forward.
“As part of both the Missouri Learning Standards for fifth-grade Social Studies and the fifth-grade Mehlville School District curriculum, students were learning about having goods, needing goods and obtaining goods and how that influenced early settlement in America. Some students who participated in this assignment were prompted to consider how plantation owners traded for goods and slaves,” Booker said.
However, there was no mention of disciplinary action or firing the teacher who assigned the homework. No suspension without pay, no termination, just an investigation. Go figure.
The letter continued, “The assignment was culturally insensitive. I appreciate the parents who notified me of this assignment. I met with the teacher this morning to discuss the purpose of the assignment, the teacher’s interpretation of curriculum standards, and the impact the activity could have on students. The teacher has expressed significant remorse. The district is continuing to investigate this event.”
Booker added that he is “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.”