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A fifth-grade teacher in Missouri has been put on administrative leave due to a culturally insensitive math assignment asking them to “buy and sell slaves.”
According to CNN, the Mehlville School District is investigating the incident, which took place at one of its schools.
Lee Hart shared a photo of the assignment in question saying that a friend’s child brought the fifth-grade worksheet home.
The slip of paper reads: “You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers. You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves. Set your price for a slave. These could be worth a lot. You may trade for any items you’d like.”
The principal of Blades Elementary, Jeremy Booker said the question “attempted to address market practices.”
The remaining questions were far less offensive such as asking set prices for items such as lumber, a bushel of grain and a jug of milk. The exercise finishes with the question of whether or not the students would consider themselves wealthy give the money and the items they had remaining. It was meant to be a reflection on a free market economy.
Mehlville School District Supt. Chris Gaines addressed the incident in a Dec. 10 statement provided to Global News
“Last week, students at Blades Elementary participated in an activity related to a colonial marketplace,” Gaines wrote. “Students traded and sold goods during this classroom activity. Unfortunately, slaves were included as goods to be sold.
“Racism of any kind, even inadvertently stemming from cultural bias, is wrong and is not who we aspire to be as a school district,” the statement continued. “I am sorry and disappointed that this happened in our school.”
The statement goes on to describe the “significant time and resources” the school will be putting into training their staff on “issues related to cultural competency, implicit bias and equity.”
Principal Jeremy Booker calls the assignment “culturally insensitive,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
“We are working together to ensure all students and families feel valued and respected at Blades Elementary,” the letter stated.