A fourth grade teacher in Norfolk, Virginia is in trouble for getting a bit too real in a lesson on the Civil War, in which she held a mock auction of black students while letting the white students bid on them.On April 1st, Jessica Boyle separated students in her class and put the black and mixed race students up for sale, according to WVEC News, apparently in a well intentioned, but ill-advised attempt to demonstrate the injustices of the slave era.
Mary B. Wrushen, Principal of Sewells Point Elementary School, sent a letter home to parents on April 6 following the incident, saying: “Although her actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students.”
“The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation,” she added.
Norfolk Public Schools Communications Director Elizabeth Mather said in a statement that teachers are required to present their lesson plans to the principal, but Boyle did not. “Appropriate personnel action is being taken” she added, though did not elaborate.
A similar incident occurred in Columbus, Ohio in March.
Virginia’s made a habit of late for being a site of controversial interpretations of Civil War history. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) declared last April “Confederate History Month” — but then had to apologize for leaving slavery out of the proclamation. McDonnell eventually canceled it for 2011.
And this January a publisher of Virginia textbooks had to replace a number of copies of its history books after it was found that — among other errors — they inaccurately claimed that a large number of African Americans fought for the south during the Civil War.