State Watch

Three teachers resign over assignment asking students how to punish slaves

Three teachers at a Wisconsin middle school have resigned after they collaborated on a lesson in which they asked students how they would punish slaves.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported on Wednesday that three teachers from Patrick Marsh Middle School resigned after an investigation found the assignment that they had created together was not "approved or endorsed by any level of leadership (building of district level.)"

"After discussions with the three teachers and their representatives, the three teachers were permitted to resign through voluntary separation agreements wherein the teachers remain on paid leave for the remainder of this school year and will not be working for the district in the future," a statement made on behalf of the school district said.

The teachers had been suspended in February over their lesson for sixth graders about laws established by King Hammurabi in ancient Mesopotamia. One question asked, "A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him 'You are not my master' How will you punish this slave?" 

The school issued an apology for the "grave error in judgment," saying the assignment was not "racially conscious."

The teachers had created the lesson on their own outside of the district's curriculum. The Journal reports that although they said they could not recall how the lesson was created, they "acknowledged that it appeared to be identical" to a $4 lesson from Teachers Pay Teachers, a website through which educators are able to buy and sell educational material.

The lesson was taken off of Teachers Pay Teachers, with the website saying it was "unacceptable, inappropriate, and antithetical to TpT's values."

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