A chartered school in San Antonio gave its eighth-graders a controversial homework assignment, asking the students to complete a ‘balanced view’ on the life of slaves by listing down the positive aspects of slavery. The worksheet went viral after outraged parents posted photos of it on social media demanding an explanation from educators responsible for assigning the homework.
Representative Joaquin Castro called the action unacceptable and called for immediate revision of the school’s curriculum. Since then, the administration has posted an apology on social media and placed the responsible educators on an indefinite leave.
A ‘Balanced View’ on Slavery
Educators of Great Hearts Monte Vista high school in San Antonio came under fire recently for assigning a homework assignment to their eighth-grade students which asked them to list the positive and negative aspects of slavery. The assignment went viral on social media after furious parents posted pictures of it which were shared by more people around the world.
Manu Livar, an eighth-grade student from Great Hearts Monte Vista, said that he couldn’t believe it when he saw the homework assignment. In an interview he said that the teacher had asked him to give a ‘balanced view’ on the life of slaves by listing down both pros and cons of slavery.
The students were expected to complete the assignment using the information given in their textbook as well as express their own point of view on the topic and list down whatever points they could think of.
The controversial homework assignment was a precursor to the textbook reading of chapter on accounts by former slaves about their lives in slavery.
After filling out the worksheet, students were expected to discuss the pros and cons they wrote down in class and awarded points for it. In order to get a good score, they had to mention an equal number of points in both positive and negative section of the worksheet.
The Assignment Goes Viral on Social Media
Manu showed the assignment to his mother who immediately sent a photo of it to her husband asking if the revisionist history assignment was a good way to teach students about the atrocious practice of slavery. Manu’s parents posted the worksheet on social media with the caption, “What exactly is this history lesson trying to teach students?”
Rep. Joaquin Castro along with other concerned parents called the assignment unacceptable and demanded that the school review its curriculum to fix the mistake.
Superintendent and head master of the high school have posted public apologies on social media ever since the backlash and assured the parents that they are working with educators to fix the mistake and ensure that the incident does not happen again.
The administrators of the charter school with more than 800 students have held a detailed meeting with families and parents of the eighth-grade students who were given the assignment. The history teacher responsible for assigning the controversial homework has also been placed on a leave until the school evaluates her actions and redesign the curriculum.
The Superintendent’s Apology
Great Hearts Monte Vista’s superintendent, Aaron Kindel, said in a Facebook post that there is absolutely no debate that slavery is a barbaric practice and a crime against humanity so, asking the students to list down positive aspects of it is unacceptable and the school takes full responsibility for the mistake.
Kindel said that the assignment was given by only one teacher and she had already been questioned about it before being placed on a leave.
On behalf of the school and its educators, Kindel apologized for the insensitive nature of the assignment and blamed the textbook for promoting controversial learning material on slavery.
Pearson has released a statement in the wake of the incident saying that it did not create or endorse the worksheet used by the San Antonio high school. The publishing company’s spokesperson said that they condemn the incident and do not support such views on slavery.
Teachers around the country criticized the worksheet on social media and one of them accused the responsible educator for their lack of critical thinking while creating the assignment. Another Twitter user said that asking someone to list down the positive aspects of slavery is equivalent to asking for positive aspects on being in a concentration camp.