Teacher binds two black 7th graders in ‘slavery lesson’

Teacher binds two black 7th graders in ‘slavery lesson’

12/07/2008 @ 3:29 pm

Filed by Andrew McLemore


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — An attempt to make history more interesting turned ugly when a white, seventh grade teacher used black students to enliven a discussion about slavery.

The social studies teacher bound the hands and feet of two black girls — only one of whom volunteered — and had them crawl under a desk to illustrate the conditions on slave ships.

The incident sparked outrage among parents, local residents and the local chapter of the NAACP.

“I thought she was insane,” said Christine Shand, the mother of one of the girls. “I mean, in this day and age, you don’t do stuff like that. There’s other ways to demonstrate slavery.”

The teacher, Eileen Bernstein, has apologized for her actions at Haverstraw Middle School, where she continues to work.

Strand asked that Bernstein be removed from the class because her daughter is afraid to return to school, but school district officials have made no comment about what, if any, disciplinary actions are being taken against Bernstein.

Wilbur Aldridge, the regional NAACP director, met with Bernstein on Thursday.

“There’s nothing wrong with a lesson on slavery. It was that particular choice of a demonstration that put it into a category of the bizarre,” he said. “I don’t care what color, no one should be put in the position of having their hands and feet bound.”

After the meeting, Aldridge said he was disappointed that Bernstein wasn’t more remorseful.

“She said she apologized for causing any problems for the child, but she was not apologizing for using that simulation during the class,” Aldridge said.

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