Parents in US upset at kids' homework question about slavery

Parents in US upset at kids' homework question about slavery
Photo credit: Getty Images

Parents of school students in the United States are upset at teachers after they set an assignment on slavery that left them shocked.

Students in the sixth grade at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Wisconsin received a homework task about ancient Mesopotamia that asked a question about how slaves should be treated.

"A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him 'You are not my master!' How will you punish this slave?'" the assignment question said, according to a parent who shared a photo to her Facebook page.

The correct answer set for this question said: "According to Hammurabi's Code: put to death."

The Code of Hammurabi was a code of laws that set punishments and fines in ancient Mesopotamia.

Sun Prairie Area School District, which the school in question is located in, sent a letter to families apologising for the assignment.

"We are writing today to apologize for a grave error in judgment that occurred during sixth-grade social studies instruction at Patrick Marsh Middle School," the district wrote in the letter, according to CNN.

"A small group of our teachers developed and used an activity that was neither racially conscious nor aligned to our district mission, vision, values, curriculum, or district equity statement."

The district has since stopped teaching the lesson and is investigating the incident. The letter added the teachers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Parents in US upset at kids' homework question about slavery
Photo credit: Facebook / Dazarrea Ervins

Dazarrea Ervins posted a photo of the assignment on her Facebook page after her son showed her the question and didn't know what to do.

"I was just taken aback," she told local news station WKOW.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me?'"

Her son, Zavion Hopkins, showed her the question and said he was unsure how to answer it.

"My mind was blown. I just stared at it for a second," he told WKOW.

Patrick Marsh Middle School has also apologised for the assignment question.

"The purpose of the activity was to help students understand how order was kept in the early civilization, how the laws that were developed, and how unjust they were," a letter said, according to CNN.

"One of the scenarios posed was directly related to the treatment of slaves in Mesopotamia; this was upsetting to students and parents. Above all, this assignment hurt our African American community."

The assignment also happened to be sent to students on the first day of Black History Month.

The school district says it is reviewing the school's social studies teaching practices "with the lens of racial trauma and curriculum violence".