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Posted under: Education News

Texas School Criticized For Assignment That Asked Students To Draw Themselves As Slaves

Another day, another problematic homework assignment.

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A Texas school is embroiled in controversy after students were asked to draw a picture depicting themselves as slaves, KVUE reports.

A mother in Austin was outraged when her daughter came home with the assignment.

“There's nothing about slavery that I would want any child, regardless of color, to have to relive," Tonya Jennings told KVUE. "I turn it, and then, of course, my eye is drawn to the title, 'Making Sense with the Senses.' And then I read the four points. And I stopped after reading, 'Draw a picture of yourself as a slave.' I just stopped right there."

Students at Four Points Middle School were also instructed to color the picture and describe what they would see, smell, hear, taste and touch if they lived through the Civil War. Jennings understood that the school hoped to teach students about a key part of American history, but feels like they could have used another method. 

"I realized I had to explain to her what this meant or what they were trying to get to. And then I realized I didn't know what they were trying to get to or what they were trying to do," Jennings continued.

"It is completely out of place. It just doesn't even go with the packet at all. To ask my child to put herself in a situation where she has to draw herself as a slave was an issue just, you know, all the way up the board," she said.

A spokesperson for Leander Independent School district released a statement about the assignment, acknowledging that the subject matter was sensitive.

"A parent contacted Four Points Middle School earlier today with a concern about a Texas History lesson regarding the Civil War and the role of slavery. The campus quickly responded to the parent to hear his concerns and discuss the situation. When teaching sensitive content, we strive to deliver lessons with care and context to our students," the district said.

The statement continued: "The tragic impacts of slavery are well documented and relevant to our state and nation’s history. The state curriculum for seventh-grade history expects students to explain reasons for Texas’ involvement in the Civil War, including states' rights, slavery, sectionalism and tariffs. The state also asks students to be able to identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference that influenced the participants."

Jenning didn’t feel satisfied with that response, and said that she planned to meet with the district.

“It doesn't fit," she continued. "It doesn't even fit the narrative of what they're trying to do."

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