An unidentified teacher at John W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, Long Island has apologized for telling students in her class “make it funny” and “don’t bore me” when assigning them to write captions for photos of former slaves after the CIvil War.
The grandmother of a student at the school shared images of the assignment in a post on Facebook which has been shared almost 2,000 times.
Some of the “funny” captions included “Black girl magic” and “Getting that money” beneath images of the sharecroppers in cotton fields.
The superintendent of Freeport Public Schools, Dr. Kishore Kuncham, said the teacher’s assignment was “an insensitive trivialization” and “poorly conceived.”
In a statement Tuesday, Kunchman said the district opened an investigation after parents who were upset about the assignment contacted the middle school’s principal. The teacher was placed on administrative duty while the investigation was conducted, he said.
“Let me be perfectly clear: Our investigation has determined that this lesson was poorly conceived and executed,” Kuncham said in his statement. “The teacher instructed three separate classes of students to develop captions for photos of post-war sharecroppers.”
“Aside from the fact that this is a poor lesson, it is an insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country, and it is unacceptable,” he said.
The superintendent’s statement included an apology from the teacher:
“It is with the deepest sense of respect that I apologize to the students, families and larger Freeport community for my insensitive words and actions last week,” the teacher said. “As a teacher and fellow member of this school community, it is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions.
“I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust from my students, colleagues and the community.”