This is absolutely unacceptable. A @GreatHeartsTX charter school in San Antonio asked students to complete a “balanced view” assignment about slavery, requiring them to list the “positive aspects” of slave life. The teacher worked from a @pearson textbook. pic.twitter.com/mzEWty68tB— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) April 19, 2018
The history of slavery in America is by far one of the most challenging parts of our nation’s story to explain, especially in a classroom setting. But it’s still important to get that story right, so that the next generation can understand the mistakes of the past in a constructive way.
Yet despite the unfairness and cruelty of the saddest chapter in American history, some people still don’t quite comprehend just how terrible and unjust slavery really was.
An eighth-grade teacher at Great Hearts Monte Vista school in San Antonio, Texas, assigned students the task of pinpointing the alleged “positive” aspects of slavery as well as its “negative” ones. As difficult a concept as that is for some to understand, the lesson actually came from a printed textbook, along with a worksheet for students to fill out.
The assignment asked for students to provide a “balanced view” of the subject of slavery — implying that the “good” equaled the “bad,” and that there were positive arguments in favor of its practice.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) shared the image of the worksheet with his followers on social media. Notably, the student who completed the assignment filled in the “positive aspects” column with a single “N/A” (not applicable) answer.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Castro wrote in response to the assignment.
Great Hearts Texas Superintendent Aaron Kindel apologized for the assignment, stating in a Facebook post that the teaching was “a clear mistake” and “entirely inconsistent with Great Hearts philosophy and culture.”
Kindel added that the district would review the text in question.
“If we deem this textbook imprudent we will permanently remove and replace it with a history book that accurately reflects our values,” he wrote.
Unfortunately, the view that there were positive aspects associated with slavery is far too prevalent still in our society today. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that our nation was better off when slavery was still around.
Those viewpoints must be countered, defeated with reasoned responses that demonstrate just how monstrous the practice really was. Students' classroom texts should reflect those same values, pointing out that slavery was reprehensible and wrong, and that "positive" aspects to it were wholly nonexistent.
Our children deserve to be taught with the truth, not a watered-down version of history that will ease the consciences of some who want to glorify a fictional past.
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