An Austin middle school assigned students to draw themselves as slaves in an attempt to understand “slave life in 1850s Texas.”
Four Points Middle School gave an assignment for students to draw themselves as slaves and describe what they would smell, hear, see, taste, and touch if they were a slave in the Civil War.
“There’s nothing about slavery that I would want any child, regardless of color, to have to relive,” mother Tonya Jennings told KVUE News.
“I turn it, and then, of course, my eye is drawn to the title, ‘Making Sense with the Senses.’ And then I read the four points. And I stopped after reading, ‘Draw a picture of yourself as a slave.’ I just stopped right there,” Jennings said.
Jennings said she was at a loss for how to explain the relevance of the assignment to her 12-year-old daughter.
“I realized I had to explain to her what this meant or what they were trying to get to. And then I realized I didn’t know what they were trying to get to or what they were trying to do,” she said.
“It is completely out of place. It just doesn’t even go with the packet at all. To ask my child to put herself in a situation where she has to draw herself as a slave was an issue just, you know, all the way up the board.”
A Leander Independent School District spokesperson issued a statement to the local media on Saturday about the matter:
“A parent contacted Four Points Middle School earlier today with a concern about a Texas History lesson regarding the Civil War and the role of slavery. The campus quickly responded to the parent to hear his concerns and discuss the situation. When teaching sensitive content, we strive to deliver lessons with care and context to our students.”
“The tragic impacts of slavery are well documented and relevant to our state and nation’s history. The state curriculum for seventh-grade history expects students to explain reasons for Texas’ involvement in the Civil War, including states’ rights, slavery, sectionalism and tariffs. The state also asks students to be able to identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference that influenced the participants.”