Eighth graders at Great Hearts Monte Vista North charter school Wednesday were assigned homework that suggested there is a positive side to slavery.
The students were told to give a balanced view of the life of slaves by listing the pros and cons.
Robert Livar’s son was one of the eighth-graders given the assignment. He left the positive side of the homework blank, and showed it to his parents.
“It seemed unexcusable (sic). It seemed indefensible that students would be tasked with the mental exercise of having to think of pros when it comes to one human owning another human,” Livar said. “I just couldn’t understand what the end result of that could even be other than revisionist history and slavery apologists.”
Great Hearts Texas Superintendent Aaron Kindel issued a statement Thursday calling the assignment “very inappropriate and entirely inconsistent with Great Hearts philosophy and culture.”
The teacher who assigned the homework has been placed on leave while the school investigates, and Great Hearts is replacing its American history textbook, “Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States.”
Kindel said Great Hearts Texas has been using the textbook for four years, but didn’t realize it used “insensitive language” until they examined it after Livar posted the homework assignment on Facebook.
“Frankly, it was just not properly vetted at the time,” Kindel said.
“We’re sincerely sorry that this incident happened. We absolutely agree that it’s unacceptable,” he added.
Livar gives Great Hearts credit for responding quickly after he contacted the school.
“We woke up the next morning to a statement from the superintendent,” said Livar, who spoke to administrators later in the day. “I’m hoping that actions follow words in this instance and that the organization becomes stronger for it.”
Camille Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @cmpcamille