Georgia elementary students assigned to imagine themselves as slaves

Oglethorpe County elementary school students were asked to write journal entries as if they were runaway slaves.

An upset Oglethorpe elementary school parent sent FOX 5 a photo of her child’s social studies assignment.

It reads in part:

“Imagine you are a slave considering running away to the north. Write several journal entries, starting with your thoughts about whether to escape—the risks involved, family you might be leaving behind or taking with you.”

Students who choose that prompt are expected to write about the events on their imaginary journey to freedom.

The prompt continues: “Since most slaves could not read or write, if you prefer to be more “realistic” and do your writing as imaginary conversations between slaves, that is fine as well.”

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Other assignment options include an essay about how the underground railroad worked, a two-summary of Harriet Tubman’s life, and the final option asks students to write as though they themselves are Tubman, looking back over her life.

FOX 5's Alex Whittler reached out to the Oglethorpe School Superintendent Beverly Levine. She provided this statement:

“The students had a choice of 4 different assignments… We believe that our students deserve a truthful account of our past, and this includes having an age-appropriate understanding of the atrocities of slavery…We chose to engage 5th-grade students with big questions in this reflective journal by asking them to try to imagine the life of a slave seeking to gain freedom.”

Oglethorpe schools offer both in-person and virtual learning during the pandemic. This is a task from a virtual program called “Accelerate Learning.”

That program also provided a statement. It reads:

“At Accelerate Education, we strive to embrace diversity and create a safe and inclusive environment for all students and staff. We provide our staff with anti-bias, diversity and cultural sensitivity training and have regular discussions about improving the diversity and accessibility within our curriculum.”

The school superintendent tells FOX that the parent spoke to a school administrator who advised her child was not required to complete the assignment.

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