St. Louis elementary school teacher has 'significant remorse' over slave trade homework assignment

The teacher even gave them a hint that slaves "could be worth a lot."

Digital Content Producer
December 10, 2019 - 8:02 am
classroom, students, teacher

ST. LOUIS (KFTK) — A teacher in the Mehlville School District is on administrative leave while the district investigates an assignment that included pricing slaves.

Fifth-grade students at Blades Elementary School in south St. Louis County last week were given a westward expansion assignment that had a slave trade component. It reads in part, "You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers. You begin to get more involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves."

The teacher even gave them a hint that slaves "could be worth a lot."

It was part of a larger assignment that also asked about various scenarios trading apples, codfish and oil. Part of the assignment was posted on Facebook: 

A letter to parents from Principal Jeremy Booker called the assignment culturally insensitive. He says the teacher expressed "significant remorse."

"Some students who participated in this assignment were prompted to consider how plantation owners traded for goods and slaves," stated the letter from Booker.

Booker says the district will offer professional development in cultural bias in the near future.

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