Chapelfield Elementary School "Sorry For Making Black Student 'Slave'

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 03/04/2011 ( 16 moms have responded )

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GAHANNA, Ohio — The mother of a black Ohio fifth grader assigned to play a slave for a social studies lesson says the school should be more sensitive.

Principal Scott Schmidt of Chapelfield Elementary in Gahanna (guh-HA'-nuh) called Aneka Burton to apologize for what happened to her son, Nikko, on Wednesday. Columbus station WBNS-TV reports Schmidt said no harm was intended.

Ten-year-old Nikko says the class was randomly divided into "masters" and "slaves" and that the only other black student got to be a master. Burton says her son refused to take part in a simulated slave auction and was sent back to his desk.

Burton says she appreciates the apology, but the exercise was inappropriate.

The school district said in a statement Thursday that officials acted promptly once the concern was raised.

~What do you think about this, even thought she did get an apology~

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Kri - posted on 03/05/2011

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I can maybe see what the teacher was trying to do. By getting the children involved with the lesson it keeps them interested and engaged. As a teacher, I would not have simply sent the student back to his desk. That made it a bigger issue than it had to be. I agree that I would have asked the child to explain his reason for why. Open dialogue is sorely lacking in our education system, especially when it comes to race and the growing diversity of our schools.

As a woman of color if I had known that the class was divided randomly I would have no problem with the exercise given there is a valid reason for it. I believe the mom is overreacting as there was an apology. Are there true instances of racism in schools? Hell yes. I teach at a Title 1 school and some teachers I've overheard make me question why they even teach. And it isn't just the white teachers either. I don't like the victim game nor do I like the "oh get over it" game. Racism should be acknowledged, discussed and learned from. But no, I don't believe this exercise was meant to be racist in nature...

Stifler's - posted on 03/04/2011

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So it's okay for all the white students to be slaves but not the 2 black students? They have to be masters in case it's racist?

Sharon - posted on 03/04/2011

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Once a teacher gave a lesson in racism using eye color.

Maybe that was the idea here?

Since the child wasn't singled out, the apology should suffice. White kids were deemed slaves and it was strictly a class exercise. Not a permanent division of the class.

Geeze, let some creativity in will you people? This poor teacher thought she had found a fun and innovative way to drive some lesson home and some uppity holier than thou - never seen a slave in his life black kid gets all up in arms about it? Why? Was he supposed to be the master? Notice the black kid who was made a master wasn't all pissed off.

Tara - posted on 03/05/2011

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If all the black kids in the class (all 2) had been cast as slaves and all the white people were cast as masters, that would be racist. Other than that, nope not racist. The opposite actually.
I think the mom should get over this and stop playing the victim role. She's just teaching her son to be one too.

Jodi - posted on 03/04/2011

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I'm just wondering when people are going to start getting all up in arms when black people are cast to play slaves in various period movies.......

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16 Comments

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Medic - posted on 03/05/2011

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I think the mom needs to get over herself. Obviously she wants to bitch about her son being a "slave" but she didn't bitch about the other black boy being a master. I think its crap that we should walk on eggshells just so we don't offend someone who had absolutely NOTHING to do with slavery. They sure as hell don't worry about offending anyone else. Everyone is so worried about racism that no one sees that some races are being discriminated against just so some don't get their feelings hurt.

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Students were randomly divided and the mother needs to get over it and move on. That boy wasn't singled out and it was a social studies lesson. There was nothing inappropriate about that lesson and mommy needs to get over herself.

Kate CP - posted on 03/04/2011

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I agree with Kri...don't even see the educational point of this highly controversial exercise.

Jodi - posted on 03/04/2011

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Kri, that is a good question, I can't see why it needed to be a class demonstration. However, I also can see that the student was no specifically chosen as a slave because of his colour, so I don't believe it was a racist decision. An apology and explanation should have sufficed.

JuLeah - posted on 03/04/2011

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well, in some ways, I don't get to even have an opinion. I am white, and can't know what it must feel like to be this kid or his mother.
I would not, as a teacher, work this progect in this fashion. I assume a lesson was the be learned here? Another paradigm might have been choosen. If I chosen to do this, and the child refused, sending him to his desk would not have been my responce. Having him explain his thoughts and feelings, respecting his world view, learning from him, allowing it to be a teaching moment .... the teacher had many options ... the one she picked left me puzzled

Kri - posted on 03/04/2011

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I'm confused as to why they needed to demonstrate this lesson of slave and slave master. Did the teacher provide any reasons behind it? As a teacher covering Black history there were moments when I have said a random students name to ask how they would feel if involved in a certain thing. That's why I am wondering what the situation was in its entirety...

Karen - posted on 03/04/2011

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The students were randomly divided and both black students didn't end up as slaves. I think a better, healthier approach for the mom involved would have been to tell her son to participate in class, realize he had not been singled out, and stop hanging on to something that happened a LONG time ago. Basically stop playing the victim, lady, and teaching your son to do the same.

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