District addresses controversial Civil War assignment at local elementary school

WAXHAW, N.C. — What some people are calling a racially insensitive assignment at a Waxhaw Elementary School has parents upset.

A picture of a board displaying cut-outs of tweets from fourth grade students was posted on the school’s Facebook page. The post said the students studied different roles and perspectives on the Civil War, then wrote tweets “that included their roles, opinions and beliefs.”

One of the tweets on the board had “#Slaveryforlife” on it.

The board has since been taken down and the Union County Public Schools district is addressing the situation.

Parent and former board of education member, Leslie Boyd, said she was shocked when she saw the image of the Twitter wall.

“My first reaction is, ‘Where was the teacher when all this happened?’” Boyd said.

The Facebook post has been deleted.

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“It was a teaching moment. It was a missed mark, a moment to understand and really dig in. What does slavery for life mean? That means your little friends you have now, would they still be your friends? It was a total missed opportunity,” Boyd said.

Below is the statement Principal Yubely Zolke sent out to families:

“I understand you have questions regarding the activity our fourth-grade students participated in when they were studying the unit, North Carolina History: Statehood and the Civil War.

In this activity, students learned about key people, significant events and the causes of the Civil War.

Most events and people discussed within this unit related directly back to North Carolina, although students learned about some events that affected our country as a whole.

Students completed a variety of activities that included analyzing primary sources and “tweeting” from the perspective of a key historical figure. Many of the comments were offensive to our parents and members of our community and for that, I apologize.

I am taking this matter very seriously and it is being addressed. The Twitter Wall has been removed and I plan to address this matter with our faculty.

Again, I am deeply sorry for how this instructional activity resulted in a negative perception about our school.”

UCPS Superintendent Andrew Houlihan also addressed the situation in a tweet: “I want to be clear: any type of assignment such as this is unacceptable. We are taking this matter very seriously and will ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Boyd said she hopes this opens deeper conversation around America’s history with slavery.

[Local police department investigating officer flashing apparent white power symbol in photo]

“I want to see more people brought to the table to discuss this so we can be more proactive and less reactive,” Boyd said.

The superintendent added that the school system is actively developing content to address diversity, equity and inclusion. He also recommended lessons, such as this one, have no place in the UCPS system.