Friday, August 12, 2022

Rochester Teacher Under Fire for ‘Cotton Picking’ Lesson About Slavery

cotton field
A photo shows colorful cotton field (Photo by Yasin Dikme/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

*A white teacher in Rochester has been placed on leave after his slavery lesson had his class of predominately Black students picking cotton and wearing handcuffs.

The incident occurred during Patrick Rausch’s social studies class at the Rochester School of the Arts, according to CNN.

Here’s more from the report:

Rausch allegedly gave pieces of cotton to all of his seventh-grade students last week and instructed them to pick the seeds out of the cotton as part of an assignment, according to two parents of students in the class. Rausch allowed White students in the class to throw their cotton away and forgo the assignment to work on their Chromebooks, Precious Morris, mother of a 13-year-old student, told CNN on Sunday.

Morris said that when her daughter Ja’Nasia Brown, who is Black, attempted to throw her cotton away, Rausch allegedly said she was not allowed to do so and if she did, she would receive a poor grade on the assignment. 

“He made a mockery out of slavery,” said Morris.

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kids in class
Kids in class

“I don’t have a problem with you teaching our kids about slavery and what our ancestors went through and how they had to pick cotton, ” she continued. “Our teachers back in the day told us that, but they don’t bring in cotton and make you pick cotton seeds out of cotton.”

“It made me feel bad to be a Black person,” said Jahmiere O’Neal, one of Rauch’s students. 

Parents are now demanding that the teacher be fired. 

The school’s Principal Kelly Nicastro said in a letter that the lesson was “extremely troubling.”

Board President Cynthia Elliott added to AP News: “In a district of Black and brown students, it is important to be sensitive of the historical framework by which our students are engaging and learning.”

Adam Urbanski, the President of the teachers union, plans on taking legal action against Rausch, according to the report. 

“If someone departs from what they should be doing, they should suffer the consequences,” he said.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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