A Wisconsin Private School Asked 4th Graders to Supply ‘3 Good Reasons’ For Slavery

The school is insisting that they only meant to inspire debate, but that might not be enough to rebuild this bridge.

by Raz Robinson

A completely tone-deaf homework assignment, for which a teacher asked students to provide “three good reasons and three bad reasons” for slavery, has a private Christian school in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin is coming under some serious (and very earned) fire.

The backlash began pouring in after Trameka Brown-Berryone, a distressed black parent, posted a photo of the homework assignment to along with a caption asking “Does anyone else find my 4th grader’s homework offensive?” Her 9-year-old son’s answer was a definitive “I feel there is no good reason for slavery.” Brown-Berryone was still “in shock” that the school would send such an assignment home when she told local news station WISN that the question put both black and non-black students in an awful position by reinforcing a “mentality of not being able to see from another perspective…that’s what’s dangerous. That’s what keeps Racism going.”

After the picture went viral and questions from concerned parents began rolling in, Principal Jim Van Dellen of Our Redeemer Lutheran School, the private parochial school in question, said in a letter to parents that he insisted that the teacher didn’t explain the prompt to the students properly. While conventional wisdom would suggest that there is no real debate to have about any point of view that could posit slavery as something for which there are “good reasons,” according to Van Dellen’s letter the question was only meant to inspire debate.

Neither Van Dellen or any faculty at Our Redeemer has reached out to further comment on the matter, but Van Dellen did admit to ABC affiliate WISN that the question was ‘out of line’. According to WISN the school is vowing to “better communicate sensitive subjects being discussed in class before presenting them to students.” In a Facebook update, Brown-Berryone said that she has since met with the principle about how to implement mandatory sensitivity training for all school faculty.