North Carolina teacher told students Constitution saved them from slavery

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North Carolina teacher told students Constitution saved them from slavery

A North Carolina charter school teacher was forced to resign after telling black students they’d be her “field slaves” if not for the Constitution, according to the parent of a child in the classroom.

Kanisha Tillman, who has a son in eighth grade at Winterville Charter Academy, told WITN the unidentified teacher singled out black students during a lesson on the Constitution in late September that led to alleged bullying by other pupils.

“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves,” Tillman told the station. “Her field slaves.”

The school’s principal, Annastasia Ryan, informed parents of eighth-graders in a Sept. 24 memo of the “racially insensitive lesson” during an English class on Constitution Day, which was observed on Sept. 17.

Two “racially insensitive words” were also used by multiple children in the classroom, leading to an “inappropriate response” from the female educator, Ryan said.

“The teacher was supported in turning in her resignation and will not be returning on campus,” Ryan told parents in the memo obtained by WITN. “Culturally sensitive training for the teacher that resigned will be provided, along with proactive training measures for our current and future staff members.”

Reports of the classroom incident led to angry posts on the school’s Facebook page, including some that called for administrators to “expose the teacher” and for parents to remove their children from the tuition-free K-8 public charter school, where 61 percent of 661 students at the school are black, while 26 percent are white, according to its website. 

Constitution.
“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves,” a parent of one of the students in the classroom said.
Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

The school’s principal addressed the “racially insensitive lesson” in a second memo Tuesday, saying the students who also made “racially insensitive” comments were disciplined, according to a Facebook post showing the letter.

“These situations concern us, too,” Ryan wrote. “Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love and respect to serve all children and their families. The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.”

Tillman, meanwhile, told the Associated Press her son relayed one classroom incident on Sept. 20 after a fellow parent texted her earlier in the day, suggesting a teacher had been treating students differently due to race.

“A white student had called a black student a monkey,” Tillman said. “When the black student educated him on that being racist and him not liking it and not to call him that and asked the teacher for support, the teacher turned around and said to him, ‘Oh, it OK. We’re all a little bit racist.’”

The black student responded by calling a white classmate a “cracker,” which led the teacher to threaten him with disciplinary action, Tillman said.

In another incident, Tillman said a group of black girls tried to explain how being called a monkey was racist when the teacher approached them and said, “It’s OK, you’re all my little monkeys.”

The students complained about the teacher’s remarks, but no action was taken, Tillman told the Associated Press. The teacher later turned in her resignation, but the white student who called a black classmate a “monkey” returned after a two-day suspension, Tillman said.

With Post wires

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