White teacher binds two black girls to teach about slavery

Photo courtesy of The International Slavery Museum

Pedagogical perversion

A teacher wants to make an impact on her students in teaching them about slavery. Does she show
the kids a movie, maybe, or take them to a slavery museum? No. She subjects two black girls in her seventh grade class to being bound with tape and forced to lie under a desk to reenact slavery as a history lesson for their class. One of the girls cries throughout the demonstration.

If you find that hard to believe — which I did, reading about it over at Feministing with slack-jawed disbelief — then you will certainly not believe the reaction of the school administration to this disgusting  display of pedagogical perversion.

According to the Associated Press:

After the mother complained to Haverstraw Middle School, the superintendent said he was having “conversations with our staff on how to deliver effective lessons.”

“If a student was upset, then it was a bad idea,” said Superintendent
Brian Monahan of the North Rockland School District in New York City’s
northern suburbs.

Bureaucratic blindness

No. That was a bad idea whether a student was upset by it or not. Who ever heard of enacting bondage in middle schools for the edification of children? If my daughter attended that school, I’d be trying to get that teacher removed. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be taught by a teacher who is manifestly empty of empathy; lacks common sense and social skills. What might she dream up to simulate for the kids next, the Dachau Crematorium Ovens?

Again from the Associated Press:

The teacher apologized to the mother who complained and her 13-year-old
daughter during a meeting Thursday that also included a representative
of the local NAACP. But the mother, Christine Shand of Haverstraw, said
Friday she thinks the teacher should be removed from the class.

“I think the teacher should have gotten some discipline,” Shand said.
“I know if that was me, I would be uncomfortable going back to that
class. Why should my daughter have to switch?”

Monahan refused to say what, if any, measures were taken against the
teacher, Eileen Bernstein, who was still working on Friday. The school
district said she was not available for comment.

“We encourage our teachers to deliver the curriculum in a variety of
ways, to go beyond just reading the textbook,” the superintendent said.
“We don’t want to discourage creativity. But this obviously went wrong
because the student was upset.”

The superintendent is just as blind as the teacher here –seeing nothing wrong with the way the lesson was taught but only finding a problem “because the student was upset.”

As Womanist Musings said: “No one who thinks that it is acceptable to tie up two little girls has any place in a classroom. “