WASHINGTON — Another school under fire tonight for a Black History month exercise gone wrong.
This time it's Shepherd Elementary in Northwest D.C., where a kindergarten skit had youngsters split into black and white groups, with children allegedly encouraged to say, "we don't like black people."
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The kindergarten teacher had the youngsters re-enacting a civil rights era lunch counter protest. The children split into black and white groups, with white children refusing to serve coffee to black children. "May we order some coffee?" reads a script. "No, get out of here."
On an app the teacher uses to communicate with parents, reaction was swift: "I'm not sure about the skit," wrote one parent. "Splitting the kids up by race and having them play antagonistic roles based on their race might be causing some confusion, and risks creating division where none existed before." "Whoa. I had no idea they were being divided this way and doing a skit," wrote another.
"I think it's unconstructive and unhealthy for 5-year-olds to role play racial antagonism against their classmates or be on the receiving end of that," wrote a third. "And I don't think that's in the spirit of celebrating Black History Month."
The teacher backed off: "While the students were excited about the opportunity to perform, they didn't grasp the complexity of the issue the way I'd like them to. As a result, the skit was removed from our performance."
Some of the parents were looking for an apology. Now, days after the uproar, they finally have a letter home. There's no apology, but the principal does say she wants to ensure all students feel "comfortable, safe and loved."
Just last week, a Loudoun County school had to apologize for having an African American student play a slave racing through an obstacle course that was supposed to represent the Underground Railroad.