PROVO, Utah — Students in an eighth-grade class in Provo were randomly assigned to be slaves and slave masters for a project about the Civil War. And when they finished, they were instructed to “reach their own conclusions regarding the issues.”
The assignment out of Centennial Middle School came last month and carried on despite pushback from several parents with students of color in the class.
One father asked that his Black kid be given another assignment. He was instead told by the teacher that she would make sure the student got the North side of the war instead of the South.
When more raised concerns, those who declined to participate were given a packet and a book to read: “Across Five Aprils,” written by a white author about a white family’s experiences during the Civil War.
The Salt Lake Tribune received a copy of the assignment from a parent, who was sent an email with the instructions on March 23. The parent asked not to be identified for fear that their kid in the class may face repercussions. They have been involved with a group calling on Provo City School District to drop the assignment.
District spokesman Caleb Price said administrators have been “working with parents to resolve the issues.” But, he noted, that has come after the project was already completed.
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