New York teacher apologizes after telling students on slavery assignment to 'make it funny'

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Friday, September 27, 2019

FREEPORT, New York -- A teacher in Nassau County, New York is apologizing for her assignment on the topic of slavery.

Many raised concerns about the assignment - and now the school is investigating.

Students and parents at J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport remain in disbelief over a slavery lesson given by the teacher in an 8th-grade social studies class.

The assignment was to write captions on pictures of African-American slaves, but according to the district, the teacher told her class to "make it funny..and don't bore me."

"What would make you say something like that? To give an assignment like that in the first place? It's just unthinkable," said Dave, a parent at the school.

In fact, in a statement, Freeport's superintendent called the lesson "poorly conceived and executed.." "unacceptable.." and an "insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African-Americans in this country."

One community activist suggested that any teacher who could do this should have their license revoked.

"We can forgive them, we can love them, we can pray with them, but they have to go," said Pastor Arthur Mackey of Mount Sinai Baptist Church.

But some in her class say the teacher, a 20-year veteran there, is well-liked, and that her actions were simply misinterpreted.

"She's a good teacher, she didn't mean it like that," said 8th-grade social studies student Savana Staco. "Some people took offense to it, and I know how she meant it."

"My son said - all she said, was to put a title or a theme to whatever comes to their head," said Hamilton Fernandez, the parent of a social studies student.

Still, the teacher issued an apology to the district, saying, "It is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions. I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust."

For now, she's removed from the classroom pending the investigation.