Yes, you read that right. A New Jersey elementary school is facing heat after attention was brought to a mandatory fifth-grade assignment that asked students to draw “examples of an event that would occur during [your] assigned colonial time period, including a poster for a lecture, speech, protest or slave auction.”
The posters were seen hanging in the hallway at South Mountain Elementary School in South Orange during parent-teacher conferences. School Superintendent John Ramos said in a note to parents that the assignment was part of a larger Colonial America unit that has been used for the past decade, WABC reports.
Jamil Karriem shared images of some of the posters on Facebook, emphasizing that educating young students on the harsh realities of students was not the problem, but adding that “the medium for said education is grossly insensitive and negligent.”
One auction poster advertised several slaves, including “Anne, aged 12 years a fine house girl” and “Jordan, aged 22 years a great cook.”
“[South Orange Maplewood School District] is committed to infus[ing] cultural competency in every aspect of our learning community,” Ramos said in a statement. “As part of this never-ending process, it is important that we reflect on the unintended effects of our curriculum, instruction and interactions. Having reflected on the concerns shared with us, we have decided to remove the slave-auction posters from South Mountain hallways, and we apologize for any unintended offense or hardship this activity has caused.”
The district is also planning a community meeting to discuss the assignment, the news station notes.
Read more at WABC.