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School issues apology for teaching fourth-graders that slaves came to America by choice

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Assignment was about slavery in colonial America

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A New York elementary school has issued an apology after a fourth-grade class was taught that African slaves came to America by choice.

What are the details?

According to a Thursday Newsweek report, a teacher at Jefferson Road Elementary School in Pittsford, New York, used worksheets from online teaching resource Classroom Nook in January.

The worksheet, according to reports, asked, "Why did slaves come to America?" The worksheet then went on to provide a fill-in-the-blank-style answer, which read, "As an exchange for the trip to America, African-Americans agreed to work for colonists for ____ years, but then were kept as slaves."

In a Tuesday statement, Michael Pero — superintendent of schools for Pittsford Central School District — issued an apology.

"It was brought to our attention this morning that in January, a worksheet was used in a fourth-grade class lesson on slavery during colonial times," the statement read. "The worksheet [...] was in no way an accurate depiction of slavery during colonial times and was highly insensitive in tone. We immediately met with the staff members involved in this lesson and have taken steps to remedy the situation."

The statement continued, "This will include a reteaching of the topic of slavery during colonial times and removing this worksheet from student notebooks while providing them with correct, factual information on this subject. Furthermore, we are working with our fourth-grade teachers across the district to be sure this worksheet is not being used in any other classrooms."

WROC-TV reported that Classroom Nook is not a district-approved resource for materials.

The statement added, "I would like to thank the parent who brought this to our attention. We have reached out to them in order to make a full apology for the use of this worksheet. We have also reached out to parents of the entire class to share this error and apologize for it. This situation reinforces the significance and importance of working with our staff with regard to high quality resources, ongoing professional development and culturally responsive-sustaining educational practices. This is something we take seriously and are continued to continuous improvement."

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