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Teachers suspended after asking kids how they would “punish” slaves

The lesson was supposed to teach kids about Hammurabi’s Code.

Classroom dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Several Wisconsin teachers have been suspended for asking their students a racially insensitive question about slavery.

As KCTV 5 reported, the Patrick Marsh Middle School instructors sent out some homework to sixth graders on Monday (Feb. 1) that required them to think from the perspective of slave owners. “A slave stands before you,” the question began. “This slave has disrespected his master by telling him, ‘You are not my master.’ How will you punish this slave?” It was later revealed that the fictional owner would have killed the enslaved person.

Infuriated with the assignment, parents of the students took to social media, expressing the shock toward the teachers’ disregard for Black people, especially during Black History Month.

The posts were met with an apology from the school’s leadership, who reportedly planned to follow up with a direct apology to students and staff.

“We regret that this assignment was not racially conscious and did not align to our district’s mission and vision of equity,” read an email from Principal Rebecca Zahn and Associate Principal Amy Schernecker. “We know that it caused harm to our students and their families. Our intent missed the mark, and for that, we are deeply sorry. Going forward, we will be sure to think critically about whether our intent matches our impact.”

According to Zahn and Schernecker, the teachers were trying to teach kids about “Hammurabi’s Code” — a set of unjust laws applied to slaves in Mesopotamia during King Hammurabi’s leadership. “This was upsetting to students and parents,” the email continued. “Above all, this assignment hurt our African-American community.”

Per, the Wisconsin State Journal, the suspended teachers of Patrick Marsh Middle School got the assignment from a website called Teachers Pay Teachers, which was criticized following its previous use by a Michigan instructor. The site has since been deleted, and the teachers have been placed on administrative leave.

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