(CBS Local) — A homework assignment asking students to “give three good reasons for slavery” that was intended to start a dialogue in a fourth grade English class has instead caused an uproar at Our Redeemer Lutheran School in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
A teacher at the school handed out the assignment to students on Jan. 8 and the backlash from parents was immediate.
Trameka Brown-Berry, one of the stunned parents, posted a photo of her son’s homework online. She told WITI-TV she was “in shock” that an assignment like this would be given to her child.
“It’s highly offensive and insensitive,” Brown-Berry said. “I couldn’t believe they sent something like that home. Not only was my son in an awful position, but the students who weren’t black — that’s what keeps racism going.”
The school’s principal, Jim Van Dellen, has since apologized for the assignment, saying in a note written to parents: “We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive. The purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that ANY slavery is acceptable-a concept that goes against our core values and beliefs about the equality and worth of people of all races. We are committed to instilling those values in our students and are very sorry that the assignment as presented was contrary to our values and teachings.”
Per WITI, the school didn’t say whether the teacher behind the homework would be punished in any way, but did mention that Van Dellen met with Brown-Berry on Wednesday to discuss the assignment.