4th grade assignment asks students for 'good' reasons for slavery

On Monday, 4th grade students at Our Redeemer Lutheran School were handed a group assignment in English class.  The question: “give three 'good' reasons for slavery and three bad reasons.”

Brown-berry says:  "It`s highly offensive and insensitive. I was in shock. I couldn`t believe they sent something like that home," says Trameka Brown-Berry, the parent of a 9-year-old boy in the class.

"Not only was my son in an awful position, but the students who weren`t black. Because it’s that sort of mentality of not being able to see from another’s perspective, only seeing through your lens, that’s what’s dangerous. That`s what keeps racism going," Brown-Berry says.

School principal Jim Van Dellen declined to speak with reporters on camera, but admits the assignment was out of line, WITI reports.  In a letter to parents and students Tuesday, Van Dellen says, “the purpose of the assignment was not, in any way, to have students argue that any slavery is acceptable.”  He says the assignment is no longer part of the curriculum -- something Van Dellen says was intended to spark debate in English class.

"And for it to be a Christian school, they could say something like, what are three good things we can do to prevent slavery from happening?" says Andrea Michel with Safe Place Meeting Group.

The principal is vowing to better communicate sensitive subjects being discussed in class with parents before presenting it to students.  Brown-Berry says this homework should be a lesson to us all and the reason she posted it on-line: "Speak up, tell your story, voice your opinion because that is how you go about change.  That`s what I was trying to model for my son."

WITI contributed to this report.