Parents and school administrators at a middle school in Westchester were caught off guard by a recently distributed extra credit assignment that invoked 19th Century slavery.
A photo of an assignment given to students at the Port Chester Middle School, in which they would have to create a “runaway slave ad” has gone viral on Facebook, and has drawn the ire of local parents and school administrators.
According to school officials, the assignment was related to a unit of curriculum on American slavery that asked students to create the advertisement.
The ad was intended to mimic original 19th Century ads that posted a reward, described the escaped slave, and provided contact information for the slave owner to include the southern state in which they are located. The exercise was a follow-up to an exam on slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction, and American society leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Port Chester Schools Superintendent Edward Kliszus released a statement released on Friday after the assignment was posted on Facebook.
“The District considers this assignment offensive and inappropriate on multiple levels," he said. "This morning we commenced an investigation into the incident and are involving our attorneys on the matter to ensure that we explore all means to best address this issue.
“I pledge that the District shall take appropriate action to ensure not only that this type of situation does not reoccur, but also, that all of our staff thoroughly understand the gross impropriety of the assignment. We believe firmly that we can discuss the tragedies of American slavery, the Civil War, and Civil Rights in ways that comport rather with the highest orders of human dignity.”
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