[guest post by Dana]
It’s 2021. How on earth does a trained teacher think this is a good idea? Especially on the heels of Black History Month:
The mock Twitter posts were taped to a wall inside a North Carolina elementary school, written in the careful penmanship of fourth-graders.
“You may not agree with slavery but I do and I’m honest about it. #SlaveryforLife,” read one, above the made-up account name @dontStopSlavery. Said another, using the handle @Confederate4life: “Why do we need to leave the country? We can stay and our slaves! #SLAVERYFOREVER.”
The messages were the result of an assignment asking Waxhaw Elementary School students to write tweets that North Carolina residents might have posted if Twitter had existed in the Civil War era. Initially, the school about 20 miles south of Charlotte shared a photograph of the “Civil War Twitter Board” on Facebook, writing in the caption that the fourth-grade students “picked the tweet they were most proud of” for the display.
Thinking that this particular assignment would be an effective way for students to learn about *North Carolina’s* history during the Civil War era leads me to believe that the teacher should not be in the classroom. Moreover, that the school posted photos of the “tweets” on Facebook leads me to believe that it wasn’t just the teacher who approved of the project. Depending on their size, school districts either have a dedicated Communication Officer responsible for managing all district social media accounts or on-site teachers are paid a stipend to be the technology liaison for their site. Regardless of who it was that posted the assignment results on Facebook, it demonstrated an utter lack of discretion and sensitivity. How could they *not* know that parents and community members, especially those in the Black community, would be offended by the assignment and its involvement of young children? I don’t think that it was necessarily just an error in judgment, however. There remains the possibility that the teacher knew exactly what she was doing, and didn’t care who might be hurt as a result. I don’t know. But because children were involved, I am not inclined to give any adult involved the benefit of the doubt. Also, why did none of the other adults on campus protest? Surely, fellow teachers, custodians, and perhaps even an administrator had been in the classroom while the project was displayed on the walls.
You can read North Carolina’s Essential Standards: Fourth Grade Social Studies here. Excerpt:
The historical significance of various statues in North Carolina.
For example: The statue of the confederate soldier outside the Old State Capitol building is significant because it represents the confederacy and honors the lives of the southern men who fought for the Confederacy.
It should be noted that “the school is 20 minutes from the Monroe County Courthouse, where a Confederate monument has stood since 1910, and last year, a Union County school board member resigned after making racist posts on social media”. This helps to inform us of the region’s climate, even today. Also, 10.2% of the student population at the school are Black.
It’s sad too that there were no tweets against slavery in the Facebook post:
The “tweets,” which were taped to the classroom wall, do not mention any historical figure by name. None of the ones highlighted on the school’s Facebook page were anti-slavery. FOX 46 asked which historical figures the “tweets” were supposed to represent but did not get an answer.
Finally, district superintendent Andrew G. Houlihan issued a public apology to students, staff, and parents:
will ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are actively dev. PD to address diversity, equity and inclusion and rec. that lessons such as these have no place in any @UCPSNC school. We are addressing this matter and sincerely apologize to our Ss, staff, families and community.
— Andrew G. Houlihan (@AGHoulihan) March 12, 2021