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Wisconsin teachers suspended after lesson asks students 'how to punish a slave'

sun prairie teachers
Posted at 4:49 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 16:49:49-05

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Administrators at a Wisconsin middle school say they have suspended teachers who were involved in an activity for sixth graders that included a question about how the students would punish slaves.

An email sent Monday to parents at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie apologized for a “grave error in judgment” during the social studies class. The letter said an unnamed number of teachers have been placed on administrative leave.

Sun Prairie is about 30 minutes northeast of Madison.

The activity gave the students a scenario that stated, ”A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him ‘You are not my master’ How will you punish this slave?” Then asked for a response.

The lesson was reportedly about a set of laws established by King Hammurabi in ancient Mesopotamia, according to a statement from the school. In a statement, Principal Rebecca Zahn issued an apology for the assignment not being “racially conscious.”

“Our intent missed the mark, and for that we are deeply sorry,” the statement said. “Going forward we will be sure to think critically about whether our intent matches our impact.”

The district says it will review their entire social studies curriculum and meet with leaders in the Black community.