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Online Utah Educator Scraps Problematic Curriculum Claiming 'Most Slaves Were Treated Kindly'

Online Utah Educator Scraps Problematic Curriculum Claiming 'Most Slaves Were Treated Kindly'
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A Utah educator is under fire for their racially insensitive and inaccurate history lesson on slavery in the United States.

Northridge Learning Center, an online education program that provides classes and supplemental core curricula materials for high school students needing to make up classes, drew criticism for a history lesson that downplays the horrors of slavery.

The document, which is now reportedly under revision, claims slaves in the USA "were treated kindly."

You can read the document here:

The history packet claims slaves were "treated like family" and even suggested slaves had nice housing.

It read:

"Many slaves worked so closely with their masters they were treated as family. Many had reasonable living conditions and hours of service."

It also suggested since slaves were property, it was against the slave owner's best interests to harm a slave—a false notion followed up with pictures of slaves who had been whipped and beaten in direct contradiction with their own text.

After this passage, the packet then briefly stated:

"But human slavery is still wrong and many cruel acts did take place."

Complaints about the curriculum from outraged parents began flooding in prompting the Northridge Learning Center to reevaluate the document.

Nancy McKendrick was the first parent to bring attention to the historically inaccurate racially insensitive U.S. History packet.

Her daughter, a high school senior, was using the Northridge Learning Center curriculum in order to make up a history class she had missed due to the pandemic.

McKendrick complained to the learning center when her daughter highlighted the problematic passages and showed them to her.

McKendrick said:

"It was just appalling to me to see that description."

One parent wrote the learning center, stating she had a Black son who would have been "crushed" to read the false claims being made in the packet.

Emma Houston, the special assistant to the vice president of equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of Utah, also voiced criticism over the learning center's curriculum.

She said:

"The fact of the matter is that Africans were brought to this country in shackles and chains and forced to do manual labor."
"They were born into slavery and died in slavery. I am just beyond words that anyone would call that 'kind'."

Houston is now calling for the Northridge Learning Center to reevaluate the entirety of its curricula in order to prevent more misinformation being passed on to students.

Houston said:

"This sounds like 1902 that they wrote this."
"Individuals who were enslaved were not treated with kindness. That's a fact."
"They were stripped of their names and cultures and everything."
"It's an issue of reporting history—not the history that we want it to be, but the actual history of how individuals were treated."

This is not the first time Utah education has mishandled teaching of issues of race and history.

One Utah school, Centennial Middle School in Provo, received backlash for randomly assigning students as "slaves" and "slave masters" during an activity.

Meanwhile, Maria Montessori Academy in North Ogden garnered criticism for allowing parents to opt their child out of lessons surrounding Black History Month.

Adrienne Andrews, the chief diversity officer at Weber State University also spoke on the matter, stating that instances like this is are uncommon in Utah and must be consistently addressed.

She said:

"To have a history makeup packet say these things is obscene."
"And it negates the facts and real lived experiences of people who were brutalized. That's not OK."
"Knowing the truth does not mean we have to stay in that history. It means we can learn from that history and commit ourselves to not doing that again."

Vikki Deakin, a professor of history at Weber State University had this to say about the situation:

"It's 2021, so I don't even know why we're still having this conversation about slavery, why we're using the language that slaveholders used to justify slavery."
"Clearly, the adults need as much education as the kids do."

Utah Black Lives Matter president Rae Duckworth is also calling for the Northridge Learning Center to transparently reevaluate it's curricula.

Duckworth said:

"The truth of my people is not being taught."

Many people took to Twitter to express their outrage.

Northridge Learning Center CEO Alison D. Bond said the center will no longer be distributing this packet and will rewrite the section on slavery and the Civil War.

In a note to parents, she wrote:

"It is difficult to address a subject such as slavery, especially through an independent study packet versus classroom discussion...But we see how this section can be improved."

Hopefully the Northridge Learning Center will rewrite their history lessons to be historically accurate and stop whitewashing history.