San Antonio Teacher Placed On Leave After Assigning Students To List Benefits Of Slavery

Apr 20, 2018

An eighth-grade teacher at a San Antonio charter school was placed on leave Thursday after assigning homework that suggested there's a positive side to slavery.

The students at Great Hearts Monte Vista North were told to give a "balanced view" of the lives of slaves by listing the pros and cons.

A homework assignment at Great Hearts Monte Vista North in San Antonio asked students to list the pros and cons of slavery.
Credit Courtesy of Robert Livar

Robert Livar’s son left the positive side of the homework blank and showed it to his parents. Livar called the assignment inexcusable.

"It seemed indefensible that students would be tasked with the mental exercise of having to think of pros when it comes to one human owning another human,” he said. “I just couldn’t understand what the end result of that could even be other than revisionist history and slavery apologists.”

Great Hearts Texas Superintendent Aaron Kindel issued a statement Thursday calling the assignment “very inappropriate and entirely inconsistent with Great Hearts philosophy and culture.”

The teacher has been placed on leave while the school investigates, and the school is replacing its American history textbook, Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States.

Kindel said the school has been using the textbook for four years, but didn’t realize it used “insensitive language” until it was examined after Livar posted the homework assignment on Facebook.

“Frankly, it was just not properly vetted at the time,” Kindel said.

“We’re sincerely sorry that this incident happened. We absolutely agree that it’s unacceptable,” he added.

Livar gave Great Hearts credit for responding quickly after he contacted the school.

“We woke up the next morning to a statement from the superintendent,” said Livar, who spoke to administrators later in the day. “I’m hoping that actions follow words in this instance and that the organization becomes stronger for it.”

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille