Tennessee school district apologizes over ‘inappropriate’ homework assignment on slaves

Neetu Chandak, DCNF

A Tennessee school district apologized Thursday over a homework assignment where students could pretend their families owned slaves as part of a list of tasks.

The students could then create a list of expectations for the slaves.

The homework assignment was given to Sunset Middle School eighth-grade social studies students, Fox News reported Friday.

Other tasks included drawing political cartoons of immigration labor, making a public service announcement about the dangers of living in urban places and creating a graph to demonstrate the relationship between slavery and the cotton gin’s invention.

“The fact that my sister is one of a couple of black kids at her school, I can’t let things like this sit around and slide,” Dan Fountain, brother of a 13-year-old student in the class, said to The Tennessean. “The way the questions were phrased and laid out had no academic merit.”

Williamson County Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mike Looney described the assignment as “inappropriate” and “insensitive,” in a letter sent to Sunset Middle School families Thursday.

“The assignment has been pulled and no grades will be recorded,” Looney wrote.

It is unclear whether students had to complete all the tasks.

The apology from WCS follows after a Virginia elementary school apologized over a gym class game where students pretended to be runaway slaves and were instructed to go through an obstacle course that was supposed to portray the Underground Railroad in early February.

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