Kindergartners at Richfield Elementary School were given a lesson on “courage” that included pictures of white children shouting at African-Americans and holding signs with hateful messages on them.
A parent contacted WBTV saying she was “disgusted” by the lesson and found it to be “degrading and racist.”
Terry Griffin, Superintendent of Stanly County Schools, told WBTV that the pictures, which show white people holding signs saying “Whites Only,” “No Negroes,” “No Coloreds,” and “I want segregation,” were included on a worksheet given to students as a follow up to a story on “Ruby Bridges,” the first African-American child to attend an all-white school in the south.
While Griffin declined an on camera interview with WBTV, she did defend the lesson, and said that a guidance counselor was teaching the class at the time and used the material to reinforce their character trait of the month: “courage.”
“Any time we have a concern expressed, that’s just part of a procedure we use, certainly, is to go back and reflect on it,” said Griffin, “to see, as in terms of age appropriateness, if it was appropriately aligned with the objective they we’re trying to accomplish there.”
Griffin added, however, that no parent had contacted the school directly to complain about the lesson.
However, when asked by ABC whether the pictures are appropriate for kindergartners, some said definitely not.
“Oh dear Lord, that’s too young,” Chris Drye said. “You need to have a sense of history. That’s more of maybe a fifth-grade project.”
Rev. Roosevelt Horne, however, with the local NAACP chapter, told WSOC-TV that he’s not offended by the images. He said he doesn’t think they will sway how a child feels about those of a different race.
“Racism is taught in the home not in the kids,” Horne said. “They play with and love each other. They see no color barrier until they go home.”
But some might argue that lessons like this will create that color barrier at school, especially among children so young.
Stanly County Schools officials say, for now, they are not going to stop using the lesson, but say they will review their material and possibly make changes if they get a written request from a parent.
The lesson on Ruby Bridges was published by The Wright Group, a product of McGraw-Hill Education.
McGraw-Hill is a leading educational assessment partner and curriculum developer of the Common Core State Standards initiative.