History Lesson Gone too Far?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - 7:05pm

Has a history lesson gone too far? A controversial flyer at a Catholic school in Port Allen is asking students to dress as slaves during a field trip. The flyer has been raising a few eyebrows. It not only has parents questioning Holy Family School’s intentions but others outside the school community.

It’s a simple flyer reminding fourth graders at Holy Family School about their “Underground Railroad Experience” field trip this Friday. Donna, who is appalled by the flyer, says “If my child came home with this I would be very upset and I would definitely go to the school.” But some parents didn’t like what they saw when they read further down the page where it says students would be allowed to dress in slave attire for the outing.

A concerned parent who prefers to remain anonymous brought the flyer to our attention saying, “While I appreciate the teacher’s attempt to engage and immerse the kids within the material being covered, I believe it’s highly inappropriate to ask children to dress up as slaves.” The parent goes on to say dressing “eight and nine year old kids up as slaves trivializes slavery itself.”

Over the last two year fourth graders have visited several historical sites throughout Port Allen in relation to the underground railroad. Parents have even gotten in on the act by simulating a post station offering biscuits to students as they journey through the town.

Bill Michelet with BR Arch Diocese says, “We have felt in the last two years this was very beneficial for the students in history and the fourth grade and we look forward to it being successful again this Friday.” But some parents feel dressing up as slaves is pushing it. Our concerned parent says allowing this type of lesson opens the doors to a landslide of criticism saying, “Doing something like this would be like asking the kids to dress up like Jewish Holocaust victims from WWII concentration camps while studying Nazis.”

Regardless, the field trip will happen but students will now be required to wear their school uniform. We’re told that the change in dress code for students was not because of the controversial nature of the slave attire but due to a safety precaution that makes it easier for chaperones to identify students in an emergency.