Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the ghost of Grover Clevland

It is unsettling at times, to know that the world you live in is not alwaysone that has your best cultural interest at hand. I was trying to hold off on publishing this but I couldn’t. But just imagine, post segregation, 2007, and your child is one of 9 African American students attending a middle school in New Jersey. They come home and ask you to assist them with their home work but you cannot. Not because you are dumb but more so because are stunned and appauled.

This is what happened for sme parents whoes children attened Grover Cleveland Middle School in Caldwell, NJ. Two New Jersey middle school teachers gave students a take-home project on slavery. The students, who were in the 6th grade, were asked to write a persuasive report, as if they were a plantation owner, selling the pros of slavery for running a Cotton Plantation they had inherited from their relatives.

In essence, they were given homework that was supposed to result in a media campaign in support of slavery and the use of slave labor for this imaginary plantation in South Carolina. More than 100 students participated in the assignment. It almost makes sense given that out of the 2,334 students in the district as of the 2005-06 school year, 38 were black, according to the state Department of Education.

Higher education seems to be less than high nowadays if these type of assignments are to represent getting the most out of our students. And no, this has nothing to do with political incorrectness but moreso with the fact that Amerikka was founded and has thrived on racism and will continue to do so. Why not give students an assignment asking them to maximize the killing of Jews In Auschitz? What’s the difference. Both are insensitive and have no pedagogic utility other than to add more shame to the villians that perpatrated slavery and the extermination of the jews. I say lets put instructors like these in gas chambers, maybe they will learn something. Besides, with teachers like this, no wonder we are enrolling at higher rates in prison than in college.

But what can one expect from a school that is named after the 22nd President of these United States and a staunch racist and supporter of white supremacy.


MsPuddin said...

Wow, is all I can say. I am always one of the few black students in my classes. And Ive never had a black teacher. It really is a shame Dr. MLK jr. just rolled over in his grave...

Ms. Behaving said...

I'm gonna have to second Ms. P's emotion here...

In fact, she took the words right outta my mouth.


the prisoner's wife said...


i am torn. as a middle school English teacher there is value in the assignment.

i think there IS something to be gained by using this assignment IF half the students had to write a persuasive essay for slavery & half write one against slavery, and then they'd come together and debate each side. there is something to be said for difficult topics such as this one (and the holocaust) and they are necessary as long as they are balanced. perhaps 6th grade isn't the grade to have such an assignment, but i can see how it might be valid (as long as it's balanced, of course).

with that said...the imbalances in the education system are extremely glaring. i teach in an urban public school in the 2nd largest district in the country. we face a myriad of issues, one of them being a disproportionate amount of funding for certain schools based on location. a typical hood school is falling apart, has little to no technology, has high teacher turnover rates, and few parents that can/will participate. the other schools...the "white" schools...the CA Distinguished Schools...they have the money, the technology, the parent participation. how we are funded is crazy, mostly based on property taxes, so that automatically eliminates a lot of funding for our communities (we typically rent). but that is neither here nor there...we need more people who are dedicated to OUR children lobbying for and teaching our children.

Sha Boogie said...

{{shaking my head}}..you've got to be kidding me. I am more dissapointed than anything! It seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same..I hate to beat that saying to death, but dang it all if it aint true!

Femigog said...

My biggest surprise was that the teachers who organized the assignment had also done it the previous year and are only NOW being called out on it! I wonder how this little "assignment" affected the black children who were face with stylizing a marketing campaign to sell people who look like them?
I am all for a discussion of slavery with a no holds barred approach but honestly the demoralizing side affects of the exercise far out weigh any educational value it might have (and I aint saying it had any)

Garth Sullivan said...

what do you do with a teacher who gives a sixth grader the following assignment, Assume you are committing a crime against humanity?

whoever mentioned gas chambers makes a good point. why not ask these children to assume they are running a concentration camp and they must make a persuasive case for its utility to the planned third reich.

the ironic thing is 6th graders are, hopefully, completely ignorant of crimes against humanity committed on a mass scale.

education needs to do a much better job of educating our youth as to real history and i think the internet is going to force it down their throats by making the text book obsolete.

seriously, if you are a parent, who do you trust? a teacher, who god bless'em are trying, or wiki-damn-pedia?

i have more faith in a website than i do a text book.

education hasn't even begun to approach what's possible. it needs innovation and money, but it certainly does not need brain warping assignments.

Mega Rich said...

Damn man, that hurt me to my heart to read that. My feelings echo Sha Boogie and Mspuddin

CapCity said...

this looks like some deep shyt, bro T;-)...

i'll have to come back after the wine wears off, T-Dawg. I just came over hur to give an intellectual Southern roughneck a HOLLA to let ya know i was thinkin' 'bout ya! ;-)

ATLcutey said...

i can't believe that the teacher nor the principal didn't realized how inappropriate that assignment is.

ignorance is bliss!


danzer1986 said...

now thats just fucked up!

pro's out weighted the con's and its just really disgusting of them to give an assignment like that.. im so mad

anyway on a lighter note. thanks for reading my blog

Mis Understood said...

I'm not surprised, being a mom I have fell victim to the "NO the Fawk they didn't" stance. I remeber my daughter brought home a "project" wanting a blueprint of the neighborhood, asking questions like "Who is always on what street?","What do people on corners wear?" "How many liquor (yes Liquor) stores are there?" Just questions they aint have no business asking a child.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Msopuddin - i feel you, i was one of the only black faculty members at Emory Univ in the SOPH when i taught there

Ms. B -- Shame is the truth

The prisoners wife - u know all of my work is amongf incarcerated populations, so i see this as an additinal enabling factor since eductaion is the only resilliacy factor against incarceration.

There was no alternative project and thats another point of order, they may as well say develop a plan to effectively kill the students, teachers and administration

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Sha & Rich - I wish I was kidding. I read toooooo much.

Femi - Yes, be honest about slavery but dont be making fun of what my ancestor went through, nor be disrespectful

Garth - I feel you, "i have more faith in a web site". Thats sad cause i feel u, im a child of the encyclopedia and comic book era, where tv went off at 10 and had 4 chanels

Cap - You know i be brain cell smashing and we folk 4 real though

ATL , Mis understood & Danzer - glad yawl aint have children up in that camp because only then, after yawl to' the club up, would it have made national TV

the prisoner's wife said...

T--word...i was reading several blog posts that said that some states project their prison population based on the 3rd grade reading rates. if a significant amount of their population isn't reading at the 3rd grade level IN the 3rd grade, they start building more prisons to accommodate those who will end up there (due to lack of education).

my question is this...

instead of building prisons, why not push those youngers who aren't reading AT grade level (most of my students, by the way) into some sort of intensive tutoring? or as my mom says...that would be too much like right.

Nic said...

Oh my dang! I really don't know what to say. I mean I'm dismayed that the teachers asked their students to do this, but I'm not too suprised. Seems like 2007 has been a good year for country-wide racial tension to try and make a STRONG comeback. Hahaha! They even tried to slip it in there with the 6th graders, knowing that’s the age when most parents lose interest in looking over their kids shoulders (homework-wise).

Glad that I stopped by today. I would have missed out on a thought provoking (and concerning) post. I enjoyed ALL of the comments too.

@ Mis understood,
Liquor stores???……….SMH

@ The prisoner’s wife,
That is so sad. They would rather spend all of that money building a jail???? Why not another school? Maybe one with a staff that’s prepared to help students in need? Thanks for sharing that stat. I would have never guessed that someones way of thinking could be so (I wanna say retarded) but I’ll just say twisted.

Thanks for letting a sista comment!


GurlNexxDoor said...

Wow, I am with sha boogie on this one. One step forward...Two steps back.

jameil1922 said...

I WOULD'VE WRECKED SHOP!!!!!!!!!! I would've immediately called my child's teacher, then the principal, the superintendent, the Urban League, the NAACP, my lawyer and the media. Not necessarily in that order. Try me if you want to, you WILL regret it.

How do you tell any child to advocate slavery? And then expect them to look at each other the same!?!?! oh I'm HOT!!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Prisoners wife - WRAT scores for inmates in state of GA are at 4th grade RL

Nic - stop by anytime thios can be your home awya from home

Gurl - sounds like Dj Unks song dont it "Two step"

1922 - glad u were not there, nothing is like the wrath of an angry bl;ack woman protecting her kids

Parda4me said...

There are not enough words in the English Webster Dictionary to describe the way I feel right. The day that my child had to turn this assignment in I would be right there. To watch the look on the teacher's facr as it was read out loud. Because their is more to slavery than African American People.

Don said...

I agree, it would take this kind of school to pass this type of material off and, in the process, actually think they are teaching something worthwhile.

Wonder what kind of effect it will have on the young minds

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

parda4me - so true but most folks dont think that deep

Don _ Main, im sorry for upsetting u this day, but as a schola warrior or never is never done

DollFace said...

Thanks for visiting my humble home. Stop by again soon:-)

This is an interesting post...not sure how this story got past me...guess I was too busy wondering who wrote N***** on a football bench for a visiting all black team to "enjoy" in NY

These people...SMH

Christina said...

I was speechless while reading this but... not so speechless that I can't thank you! While reading I felt like I was getting a blow to the stomach!

To think that teachers can bring assignments such as this to a group of 6th graders (blindly) is disturbing to me. I agree, taught with balance, maybe it could have worked but there was no balance or sense of respect.

I homeschool my children and it honestly takes everything we have from the mind and the heart to make sure we give them the education they deserve.

We teach the truth about our people, the holocaust and whatever else may come to the table, but I teach it with respect, respect for the lesson and my kids.

Thanks for visiting and for bring this to my attention. Maybe I will turn this into a lesson of my own, a lesson that is well thought out and taught with the dignity it deserves.
Thanks again-

CapCity said...

WOOOOWWWWW! Now, that I've returned sober...that f'ed me up...i'm going to have another drink.

i'm trying to laugh it off to keep from crying, for real. As a teacher I have always urged parents to be VIGILANT! & I've taught in some of the most ELITE private schools - but NO ONE is going to love & care for your child as well as a parent SHOULD (well, i did, but that ish wore me out...it's hard enuf to love your own child - try loving someone ELSE's who don't KNOW the treasure they have cuz their ego is too busy trying to mold the child into THEIR dream....)

i really do need a drink now....

Yasmin said...

I'm appalled but unfortunately not shocked. The New Millennium seems to be open season to attack AAs physically, emotionally and mentally. As a parent and an educated, professional...I am glad that neither of my kids attended that particular school. That's a situation that would have required my intervention and I wouldn't have stopped until I felt that I and the rest of the folks of color in that school had received satisfactory treatment.
What's sad is that some of us are still enslaved by our minds...we let things happen because we don't know how to stop them. Unfortunately our kids suffer because of this and the repurcussions can be long term.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Doollface - u very welcome, so its like that inn NYC?

Christina - I aplaude u for the home schooling, I would love to do such

Cap - sory to mess up your buz but i had to do it

Yasmin u right - open season, we need to pull tha posse comtatis n the azz

"D" said...

As teachers (and I mean all of us, not just the ones in schools) it is so much more important for us to educate our children on the cause and effect of the historical event as opposed to just having them memorize the names of the people who participated in such event!

Even when I went to school, they taught what they want you to know about each piece of history weather slavery or Hitler or the native american indians, or any other piece for that matter. They never tell you the whole truth. And they do this on purpose because if they did, we would have questioned the event in the eyes of humanity. Some do, yes, but not the masses. The issue is as I will always say, our MIND STATE our individual mind states. The fact that we watch TV and read news papers and listen to the office gossip and take in everything that is said as a TRUTH. The truth is out there, you just cannot rely on the government agencies nor the television nor the banking institutions to give it to you. It does not meet their interest. However, having a school create an assignment like this does! And we fall into their trap over and over again. The key is to divide and conquer. That is exactly what they are still doing and have done for years. As long as they keep us humans pinned against eachother for all the various reasons we are, they will continue to succed in controling the masses.

Why not build schools instead of prisons? Because educating and mind elevation doesn't fit their scheme either. Sure, there will always be schools and teachers and such because the masses would shun the absense of that. That, we would question. But if you can keep people pinned against eachother for "small" (in their view) confrontations like this, the focus, is continually shifted from what is really going on behind the scenes for mind enslavement and that is not just happening to African Americans. Even the teachers who assigned this, are in a form of mental slavery because they are in a conditioned state and the assignment was the outcome. They probably believe in white supremecy because they are in judgment of black folks. That is a sign of a disturbance in their knowledge of self. Therefore, they pass on what they know. Is it ok? NO, but instead of understanding thier condition, we just get emotional and react. Which is exactly how they want it. Be explosive and show the rest of the world just how outlandish your race is. This is what they sit back and say to themselves. But we are to emotional to see this because they have cut deep and hurt us and awakened an effect from a cause of billions of years. They want people, all races, all religions, all classes to be angry, to be mentally trapped in the memory of the past so that we cannot (any of us) move forward. They want us to be trapped and they use our very own emotions to carry this out. Why? How? Because these white folks assigned this based on their conditioned minds and the black folk react to it based on their conditioned minds. BINGO.... mission accomplished. They have proven once again that every single one of our minds is of a certain condition. But they leep us in the condition by distracting us with tv and music and movies. We want everything more sexy cause it sells. We want more, more, more of everything. We are distracted from the real issues.

Elevation of the mind is the key and it starts with the teachers, who are the parents and adults in the lives of our children. But how can I teach anything other than what my mind state is? So the mind states breed and continue on in our children who become adults, the teachers, of the next generation. Then those kids grow up and it breeds more of the same mind state. Feel me?

If I am enslaved in my mind, with all my judgments of others, how can I teach my child humanity? Cause I am angry and white folks or black folks or christians or muslims. I am angry at the rich or the poor. All of this depending on my own personal status of the above listed. Hence, I pass on my judgments and prefferences to my kids. It breeds. I am certainly not suggesting that we as humans accept and teach what goes on as OK? quite the contrary, I am saying..... IT IS WHAT IT IS. You have no control over what another thinks. You only have control of self and a small amount of influence on others until they deal with their self, their state of mind. So how the hell do we all move around this? We recognize in ourselves our own patterns of action and reaction, we observe self. Once recognized and accepted, we can more easily see our behavior and our own condition. Teach you kids that they are in control of their own patterns of action and reaction. Don't fall prey to the conditioned responses to things.

There are dualities and polarities in nature, so if you find the above to be a truth, then love breeds the same way. Therefore, if I provide love to myself, I can heal my mind to better teach the future generation. Freedom, justice and equality kind of love, not love as an emotion.

"The best teachers can not teach you but rather remind you of what, on some level, you already know!"


Ms. Lovely said...

wow..you know I could actually picture this happening in one of my old schools.. With so many topics to be persuaded on why do they need to be persuaded on slavery? *sigh*...I can't.

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