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A Rochester, New York teacher has been put on leave following explosive allegations that he told his class of mostly black students to pick seeds out of cotton and to put on handcuffs and leg shackles during a seventh-grade social studies class lesson about slavery.
Patrick Rausch, a 20-year veteran who plies his trade at Rochester’s School of the Arts will be sidelined while school district officials conduct an investigation into what would be an extremely insensitive method of teaching as well as a likely career killer in today’s racially charged environment.
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, a Rochester-based newspaper, Rauch who is white, “referred to himself as “massah” and allowed white students in the classes to stop when they complained, but not Black students.”
The offensive lesson which took place last week received media attention after the livid mother of one of the black students posted about it on Facebook.
“My daughter social studies teacher grade 7th grade count yo days how the hell u make my baby learn to pick cotton seeds out of the cotton n to tell them not to sing that slavery song in yo class,” wrote Precious Tross who also goes by Precious Morris on Facebook, all in caps.
“and a lil girl say yes massah and the teacher gone put his two fingers up and say yes I am massa the 3 Caucasian kids said im not picking no seeds out of no cotton thats not my job and throws it in the trash…” she posted along with a picture of a clump of cotton.
“I almost drove off the road,” Tross, who is the mother of Ja’Nasia Brown told media outlets, describing how she felt after being informed of the controversial lesson.
“She’s traumatized; she feels belittled,” she added. “He made a mockery out of slavery. How dare you.”
“I don’t have a problem with you teaching our kids about slavery and what our ancestors went through and how they had to pick cotton,’ she said, according to the Daily Mail. ‘Our teachers back in the day told us that, but they don’t bring in cotton and make you pick cotton seeds out of cotton.”
Vialma Ramos-O’Neal whose son Jahmiere O’Neal was in Rausch’s class, also complained about the lesson.
“I have fought all along for Jahmiere to be included in everything his peers are, and this man degraded him, insulted him and made him not want to be black,” she said. “I was in shock.”
“The district takes these situations very seriously, as descriptions of what occurred in the classroom by the school community are extremely troubling,” the RCSD said in a statement.
In another Facebook post also in caps and devoid of punctuation, Tross posted pictures of Rausch in a call to action.
“If your kids has this man as a 7th grade social studies teacher at SOTA this is him this is the racist bastard that made my daughter finish picking f**kin cotton seeds ask your kids about him I have parents in my inbox about there kids n how this man is disrespectful as hell…. share share share because he needs to be exposed.”
“I am a very, very angry parent, and I’m going to stand on all 10 of my toes until I get justice,” Tross said, adding that, according to her daughter, Rausch had made fun of her weight, leading her to stop eating breakfast. She is considering legal action against him and the district,” the Democrat and Chronicle reported.
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