School Apologizes After Having 4th Graders Write Pro-Slavery Twitter Hashtags For Civil War Assignment
Waxhaw Elementary School is currently facing backlash after one of their teachers led an exercise that quickly turned racist.
In a fourth-grade classroom, a Waxhaw teacher leading a social studies unit on the American Civil War decided to incorporate an exercise to give students a chance to experience the mindset of those who lived during the time of the Civil War.
And like many other "edgy" assignments we've seen recently, this assignment did not go well.
As a part of their study, the teacher—whose name has not been made public—directed the students to create a series of contemporary tweets in the likeness of one of the historical figures they were studying. The school and the teacher have not reported back on which historical figure that was.
The catch, though?
Given the figure they were creating tweets for, the students were encouraged to write pro-Civil War tweets, as well as pro-slavery tweets. The students needed to create a Tweet handle (a username), the tweet itself and a pro-Civil War or pro-slavery hashtag.
Here are a few examples of how that went off the rails.
"You may not agree with slavery, but I do, and I'm honest about it. #SlaveryForLife"
"Why do we need to leave the country? We can stay and have our slaves! #SlaveryForever"
The tweets were displayed throughout the classroom and in the hallway as a part of a display of work the students were most "proud" of working on that month.
Part of the display was even depicted on the school's website, but no proper context, regarding the assignment or the historical figure the tweets were modeled after, was provided.
A Facebook post was also created on the school's page, but this has since been taken down after the school received critical feedback about the assignment. The incident went viral after a parent reported what she saw on Facebook to Fox News, stating she was then considering sending her student elsewhere.
Kimberly Morrison-Hansley of the Union County NAACP spoke out against the assignment in her district.
Morrison-Hansley was candid and said students in the Union County School District had undoubtedly experienced racism, even in their elementary school years. She is a part of a diversity advisory committee that addresses these issues in their district.
Morrison-Hansley said of the assignment:
"This is a slap in the face."
"The district has to take this very seriously."
"Someone needs to say something. And most of all, it needs to be an apology."
"[They need to] assure us it won't happen again."
Tahira Stalberte, a spokesperson for the school district, responded:
"This type of assignment is unacceptable."
"And we apologize for offending parents, staff, students, and members of our community."
Andrew, the Superintendent of the school district, also responded to the situation via Tweet.
Today I was made aware of an elementary school assignment about the Civil War that was racially insensitive and not… https://t.co/f5rD9dvkSv— Andrew G. Houlihan (@Andrew G. Houlihan)1615512172.0
will ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are actively dev. PD to address diversity, equity and inclusion and rec.… https://t.co/0VJX7BcsW3— Andrew G. Houlihan (@Andrew G. Houlihan)1615512194.0
Some Twitter users questioned whether it was enough, however.
@AGHoulihan classroom. It is 2021 and we continue to see stories like this, primarily in the South and it is unacce… https://t.co/SyUlIGxcWp— Portia McGonagal (@Portia McGonagal)1615820185.0
@AGHoulihan Are the "tweets" removed from the hallways? Is counseling offered to the children of color that had to… https://t.co/UrErLOUPaz— Phil A Buster’s End (@Phil A Buster’s End)1615821773.0
@AGHoulihan Seriously?!? What in THE world is wrong with you individuals? Are you truly shocked & disappointed? Wou… https://t.co/Qi0qEnzhar— Belle Ãme (@Belle Ãme)1615794335.0
@AGHoulihan People love to say “unacceptable” and “does not represent our values”. Yet, it happened. It WAS accepta… https://t.co/hGuMg2aZVY— Trump's Fetish (@Trump's Fetish)1615825290.0
@AGHoulihan So are you only sorry that this became publicized or are you sorry that children and staff had to pass… https://t.co/iKkTzt3ngt— Elizabeth Ginsburg (@Elizabeth Ginsburg)1615554664.0
I went to this elementary school, it's always been racist #waxhaw https://t.co/1CTnHGWg5U— WitchofWaxhaw (@WitchofWaxhaw)1615758794.0
An elementary school in North Carolina is apologizing after an assignment to role-play as Civil War-era figures on… https://t.co/exYfOwyeyP— Learning for Justice (@Learning for Justice)1615584001.0
It is twenty-effing-twenty-one. At this point, this is intentional and willful. And any teacher doing this needs to… https://t.co/UcytCyz87a— Portia McGonagal (@Portia McGonagal)1615819476.0
@PortiaMcGonagal @miggiepdx The teacher who instigated this assignment should be investigated 🤔 surely it wasn’t pa… https://t.co/RMWuOHM8xZ— 🇨🇦Liberty-bk (Bonnie) (@🇨🇦Liberty-bk (Bonnie))1615824130.0
@PortiaMcGonagal "immediate diversity training?" More like immediate dismissal. These teachers know exACTLY what th… https://t.co/x7sdBI9qGo— Chris Hatcher (@Chris Hatcher)1615821426.0
@PortiaMcGonagal I can’t believe it… And none of the “tweets” were anti-slavery. I I think that tells us all we nee… https://t.co/ilyaMaMhKv— Lisa Glass (@Lisa Glass)1615829293.0
Though the school district seems to be pretty quick to respond to this one, it's unsettling such an assignment happened in the first place.
Some in the district are hopeful new professional development and sensitivity training will make the difference.