A charter school in Arizona is under fire after parents reported that a Black child was paraded through class as other students yelled and screamed at them — all in an apparent attempt to teach the kids about school desegregation efforts and the Civil Rights Movement, according to the Arizona Republic.
Claudia Rodriguez wrote on Facebook that her 9-year-old son walked across a BASIS Phoenix Central classroom as two teachers and 27 third-graders hurled harsh invective at him. The teachers defended their actions by claiming they were trying to teach the class about the Little Rock Nine — a group of nine students, who in 1957, were some of the first Black students to attend desegregated schools after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954).
"His humanities teacher found it wise that in order for the kids to understand what black kids during those times experienced that she would have my child, who is black, walk through the classroom as she, another teacher, and the remaining 27 classmates yell, humiliate and berate him," she wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.
"The Head of School had the nerve to tell me that there was some educational value in this incident because it started conversations in the homes of the other kids, at the expense of my child's emotional well being."
Basis spokesman Phil Handler downplayed the incident in an interview with The Arizona Republic, claiming "the boy was fine" and that "the whole class thought it was a pretty good lesson."
He said the teacher made sure nothing racist was screamed and that multiple kids volunteered to be on the receiving end of the yelling.
"I’ve never heard of anybody complaining about learning about the civil-rights movement," Handler said. "From time to time parents get upset, and we’re sorry it happened."
But Rodriguez was not alone in her fury. Other parents were alarmed by the lesson and questioned why this could not be taught using powerpoint slides or video footage. Rodriguez only found out about what happened to her young son from another parent, who sent her a long message about how angry she also was that her child had participated in the lesson.
"To choose a child and have him experience physical feelings of hate is a gross incompetence and negligent decision on the part of 1-2 members of staff. Whether or not this was intent or pure ignorance, I did expect better," a parent wrote in a letter shared on Facebook by Rodriguez.
"This is a real subject that is a big part of our past and unfortunately our present. How it is delivered is important. My son does not get to play racist or hate-monger anywhere."
Rodriguez has already met with community leaders and has filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.
"This woman should not be teaching kids, she has no business in a classroom if she thinks it's ok to do this to a child," Rodriguez added in her post.
"What has been done to my child cannot be undone, but maybe we can prevent this from happening to someone else."
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