Lee Heidhues 4.22.2022
San Francisco should be ashamed of itself for being bullied into burying its racist history.
I am mortified in ‘Progressive’ SF any parent is upset their kids were asked to feel sharp edges of a cotton plant Parents fearful their kids will be exposed to the vicious reality of slavery in America Shame on anyone who thinks America is just a 4th of July party
The teacher should be commended for the innovative approach to teaching the horrors of Slavery in this country. Instead, we have smug righteous parents fearful that their darlings will be exposed to the vicious underbelly of American history.
Shame on these luddites who continue to delude themselves and stunt their children’s intellectual growth in the process. The teacher should NEVER have issued an apology for the innovative classroom lesson.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 4.22.2022
Amid a national conservative push to remove lessons about racism from school curricula, a San Francisco teacher’s use of a cotton plant to illustrate the hardships of slavery has left parents divided over the teaching method itself, given the sensitive subject, and the backlash that followed.
The social studies teacher at San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School brought in cotton plants, or bolls, to class on March 3 so her eighth-grade students could feel the sharp edges that had pierced hands while picking cotton and pulling out the seeds. The lesson was about the cotton gin and the impact it had on slavery and the industrial revolution.
Within 24 hours, the leadership at the school had launched an investigation into the classroom exercise — what some described as an inappropriate simulation of slavery.
A parent, whose child considers the teacher one of his three favorite people in the world, said it’s “unbearably cruel” what the teacher has endured.
“I think it’s insane they would treat a teacher like this and basically discard a teacher that has been so inspiring and dedicated,” said the parent, who requested anonymity to protect her child. “It feels like it was a lesson in sensitivity and empathy. That’s why my mind is so blown and I can’t stop being angry about it.”
On March 4, the school’s director apologized in a letter to families for the “unacceptable, harmful” and “inappropriate” teaching that did not reflect the school’s “anti-racist, progressive-minded curriculum.”
The teacher was not at the school for five weeks after the controversial class. The school declined to confirm whether or how she was placed on leave or disciplined during the investigation, but parents attributed her absence to disciplinary action. When the teacher returned on April 15, she issued a written apology to families.