How brain-dead and ethically inert does a teacher have to be to give two black students an assignment to pick cotton? The mind boggles, but this really happened, and at the cringingly politically correctly-named Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane Washington no less.
ABC News tells us that Emzayia and Zyeshauwne Feazell reported to their mother that their social studies teacher handed out cotton and told them and other students to “pick it” in a race to see who could do so it the fastest. The assignment was supposed to be a reminder that blacks were once enslaved and forced to pick cotton on Southern plantations, because nobody else is reminding black children of that fact daily and perhaps hourly.
A furious Brandi Feazell told the network regarding the incident,
“For you to pass out cotton and to my children [and tell them] that essentially, they’re going to pick the cotton clean and it’s a race of who can get it clean first, that was extremely bothersome to me and my children. Under no circumstance … do they need to be taught what it’s like to be a slave or what it’s like to be Black.”
Nor is that a valid topic for study, except in a race-obsessed culture where making certain that blacks are resentful and…wait. Right. I wasn’t thinking…
The twins’ mother complained to Sacajawea’s administration, but was rebuffed: the school supported the assignment! The two girls, however, were removed from the class and their friends as if this was their fault.
“[The teacher] is still at work and yet my kids are being punished when I’m told that the best thing they could do for my kids at that point was to segregate them into a room by themselves away from the white teacher,” Feazell said.
Spokane Public School District released a statement explaining that the lesson was designed to help students learn about the Industrial Revolution and the cotton gin. And what does picking up cotton balls teach anyone about the industrial revolution?
The twins are currently not attending school and the family is calling for the social studies teacher and other school administrators to be disciplined, as well as for a formal apology from the school district. As the saying goes, however, you can’t fix stupid, and stupidity is a major impediment to ethics. The larger question is whether the public school system can be fixed, when so many educational professionals lack common sense and ethics alarms.
I am dubious.