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Wauwatosa School takes swift action to address racial homework backlash

Trameka Brown-Berry was able to meet with the principal of Our Redeemer Lutheran School and released a statement detailing their discussion on January 9, regarding the “good” reasons for slavery assignment given to 4th grade African American son.

I just want to thank every single person that has supported me in advocating for my son in regards to the insensitive and offensive homework assignment he received yesterday. His school has not only heard my voice very clearly, but those of you who also contacted the school on our behalf. Out of a very negative situation we were able to come together as a community and stand united in support. That is so beautiful, thank you.

I informed the principal of my concerns as well as the action steps I am requesting the school to take to resolve this issue. They include:

  1. A verbal apology to the kids,
  2. A formal apology sent home to th parents
  3. The assignment be removed from current and future curriculum,
  4. Something being sent home prior to any sensitive topics being discussed with students in the future.
  5. The staff and teachers being trained in a cultural diversity/ cultural competency inservice to prevent this from happening again.

The principal was very prompt in addressing my concerns, apologized right away, and has agreed to all of my action steps.

The teacher has already apologized to the kids.

The principal and I have been in contact all day, working on the apology letter. He decided to send it home with the entire student body, not just my son’s class. In the letter he explains the the assignment has been removed and that teachers will send home information prior to any sensitive topics being discussed.

The moral of the story is, the only way to teach our kids to stand up for their rights and respect is to model it. With all of your support I was able to give my child a personal life lessons about how change starts you.

The letter Our Redeemer Lutheran School sent home to parents was signed by Jim Van Dellen, Principal, and Andrew Steinke, Senior Pastor.

On behalf of Our Redeemer Lutheran School, we sincerely apologize for the fact that an assignment given to a 4th grade class yesterday was not clearly explained to students and their parents. The result was a strong call to action to address the situation. We understand that, as presented, the words used showed a lack of sensitivity and were offensive. The purpose of the assignment was NOT, in any way, to have students argue that ANY slavery is acceptable – a concept that goest against our core values and beliefs about the equality and worth of people of all races. We are committed to instilling those values in our students and are very sorry that the assignment as presented was contrary to our values and teachings.

We appreciate the parent who brought this issue to our attention and are working with them. Moving forward, Our Redeemer will redouble our efforts to anticipate and communicate with parents prior to sensitive subjects being discussed in class. This particular assignment is no longer a part of our curriculum and we are committed to working with our families and our teachers regarding this sensitive issue.

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