MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — When it comes time for fifth graders to learn about the history of colonization and slavery, it’s always a sensitive subject.

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, parents like Tracey Jarmon-Woods said it became even more painful after what took place in a 5th grade classroom at her son’s school in Maplewood.

“There was a sale of a black child by white children in the classroom,” Tracey Jarmon-Woods said, “If you’re demoralized — sold on a block in 2017 — it may affect you the rest of your life.”

A mock slave auction earlier in the month was hotly discussed during after school pickup outside Jefferson Elementary School, and later at a board of education meeting.

TALK & SHARE: Think it was a bold history lesson, a tone-deaf mistake or something else?

“I’m disgusted, really disgusted a child was bought. That doesn’t make any sense,” one parent said.

“We’re always in damage control, and it’s getting absurd honestly,” student BOE member Filip Saulean said.

In a letter sent to parents, the principal said the impromptu reenactment of a slave auction by students was done while the teacher was out for a medical procedure and a substitute was in charge of the class.

“The activity was not part of the curriculum, not part of the teacher’s assignment, not condoned by the classroom teacher, and not authorized by the district,” the statement said.

It’s not the first time the district has come under fire for its  curriculum on colonization. Around the same time as the mock slave sale, controversial posters at another district school — South Mountain Elementary — offended several parents.

“We have to do better for our children,” Elissa Malespina said.

On Monday night, Superintendent Dr. John Ramos addressed the incidents.

“There was no intent to be provocative or demeaning,” he said, “The context is important to know.”

A school social worker will speak with 5th graders at Jefferson Elementary on Tuesday.

The district said it is planning a town hall event with parents and their kids on the topic as well.

Comments (77)
  1. Ted Hampton says:

    These parents should be more concerned about their children becoming slaves of the state.

    1. Not “becoming”; born to slave parents and surrendered at birth, unknowingly and ignorantly by slave parents.

  2. Yes, this type of behavior should be stopped, nipped in the bud. While we are at it, the movies; Roots, D’Jango, Amistad, Gone With the Wind, 12 Years a Slave, the color purple, Ben Hur, Birth of a Nation… and all the rest that depict slavery need to be banned. There is no reason other than people trying to STILL make a dollar off of slavery and the dehumiliation of another human being.

    By all means, we need to forget this part of history. How about this, just like those liberals like to say that the Holocaust never happened, let’s just say slavery never happened, and everyone can forget about it, okay???

  3. Sukie Tawdry says:

    I’ve read that a majority of high school graduates think slavery was invented in this country. If you’re going to teach history, then teach all of it. If you’re going to teach about the African slave trade, then be sure to include the bits about the Africans who raided surrounding villages and kidnapped fellow Africans to sell to the European slave traders. Maybe the substitute teacher should have asked the kids if they wanted instead to re-enact one of those raids.

  4. John Bonham says:

    If it was Islamic slave trade you GOOFY Democrats would be OK with it. You would kiss their asses like the Infidel, you are.

  5. If you actually READ the article, instead of just rushing to the comment section to post, you would see that this was NOT the idea of ANY of the staff at the school, nor did any staff approve of it being done. It was literally the idea of the students. They came up with this idea for the reenactment, and they did the reenactment. The WORST thing that you might accuse the school of, is not keeping their kids under control, as they seemed to not have any discipline at all, and the kids were basically given free reign to do whatever they wanted. If the parrents want to blame somebody for coming up with the offensive idea, they should be blaming the KIDS in this case, as it was literally the kids’ idea.

    1. The visceral reaction to this is easy to understand. Schools are “entrusted” with our children’s minds with the expectation that, at a minimum, they will stop them from running into the street without looking.

      It’s a stunning abrogation of their responsibility and should be mocked unmercifully for the lunacy it is and the damage it could do.

    2. Actually it says the “substitute” was in charge. Either way its another book worm trying to make a statement (and what better place to get people to listen then these impressionable students, because we all know outside of their little circle of teachers nobody really listens to their wack ideas) and doesn’t know squat. The worse thing for the students is the schools and the weak minded fools teaching them. Get back to the FACTS and not your personal agenda’s maybe then school will become educational again and not a political, politically correct playground.

  6. G uess “intelligence” is no longer a requirement of a teaching degree…

  7. Let’s really teach about slavery. Hey “social justice warriors”, it wasn’t invented here. If you want to teach about it, depersonalize it, and be happy to be free to teach it in a society that has unambiguously, totally, progressively, liberally, beyond reproachedly disavowed it.

  8. Kurt Frommd says:

    Sure, let’s get rid of the confederate flag and replace it with mock slave auctions.

  9. Hanson Smith says:

    Once again liberals and minorities push their stupid, hateful radical RE-education ideas on unsuspecting children. Slavery is GONE. Stop trying to re-animate it, and force people to be angry about events that happened hundreds of years ago. Hillary/Barrak voters need to stop pushing their divisive ideology under the guise of education.

  10. Lewis Ranja says:

    It was just some dumbass substitute teacher who probably thought they had come up wth a brilliant idea. Let it go, guys.

  11. Joe Boltonn says:

    I know i’ll sound old fashioned, but i remember when schools taught kids how to put a condom on a banana.

  12. Rob Cleary says:

    I assume something this bizarre had to involve lots of democrats

  13. Bob Olson says:

    How dare they teach history. There is no place for teaching actual facts. This is unacceptable.

    1. Teaching is one thing. Re-enacting is something entirely different and often NOT an acceptable form of instruction. Would you want the herding of Jews into a gas chamber re-enacted or the beheading of an individual in the French Revolution. Maybe the torture of another individual would be something that the students might be traumatized for life if re-enacted.

      At some point the educational experience is out weighted by the negative experience of re-enacting history.

  14. I am disgusted by this. Only females should be sold off at slave auctions.

  15. What a sick person that would be brought in to “teach” kids.

  16. Lee Schedler says:

    I think it was a good iea, but needed sensativity on the part of the teachers (probably should have had no comments other than historical facts) and the kids should have signed permission slips so the parents were aware.

  17. Sending your child to a government union school should be a chargeable crime of child abuse?

    1. Peter York says:

      like putting a question mark at the end of a declarative sentence.

      1. Guy Gadbous says:

        Or, not capitalizing the first letter in the first word of a sentence.

  18. The purpose was not learning history, it was teaching white kids to feel guilty for something neither they nor their ancestors were responsible for. It was an effort in guilt transference. The race of the substitute teacher was with held from the report.


  19. Sparky Mills says:

    School choice – It’s the answer to the endless cycle of leftist indoctrination.


  20. Joan Prince says:

    Why not look at the slave trade that is going on today, one very active area is the southern border where human trafficking is going on every day. The south American countries and China are really big in that business. The sex trafficking among minor children is rampant and being ignored. Now we need to teach the children that AMERICA stopped slavery first, remember the Civil War folks, Abraham Lincoln (Republican) and the Emancipation Proclamation
    Now take a look at Africa today, the slave trade, human trafficking and the sex trade is alive and well. It never stopped in Africa where it started and is big business today. The media needs to report the NEWS even is it isn’t about America. The truth is hard to come by today..

    1. Joann Larson says:

      Joan, you are right on! Race and color should not ever be considered, only a person’s behavior and attitude, this is what makes a person whether they be good or bad.

    2. John Bonham says:

      If it was Islamic slave trade you STUPID Democrats would kiss their asses and be good little Infidels.

  21. Pundit Point says:

    Jeez, liberals have completely lost it. They act like Obama is still in office. Evidently they didn’t get the memo that liberal oppression ended when Trump became the president.

  22. James Tabone says:

    Why not? Grounding today’s elementary school children in “slave auctioning” is a product of Islam. Muslims will eventually take over the world, and they are at the greatest slave traders in the world today!

  23. Teddy Coral says:

    Was the kids name Toby?

  24. Why is there a need to re-inact?
    When I went to school we read history not play acted.
    Really this is liberal school systems keeping things jinned up!

  25. The best way to repeat history is to ignore it.

  26. “‘I’m disgusted, really disgusted a child was bought. That doesn’t make any sense,’ one parent said.”

    You realize it was just pretend, right? You think that’s bad? When I was a kid we pretended to shoot each other. That’s worse than slavery, it’s straight-up murder.

    1. I’d assume context provides a bit of distinction between those two situaitons

  27. Wayne Kulick says:

    “The context is important to know.?” WTF?

    How about a mock gas chamber and state the context is important to know? Morons leading schools.

  28. Jeffrey Gee says:

    More reasons to home school your children!

  29. What was the ethnicity of the substitute? I’m guessing non-white. If the sub was white it would have been the headline.

  30. Max Conrad says:

    In India they teach their children about language, math, science and engineering. In this country the liberal Democrat teachers are running their version of the Hitler youth with political indoctrination being the #1 educational priority.

  31. Temp Sol says:

    As the chains of the last century are gone, and have been for a while, it is obviously clear that a new set of chains are being drawn – a set far more precarious than the last.

  32. why not give the girls 50 lashes for talking to a boy, that’s living history

    1. Dave Nantz says:

      I was put in stocks in the 7th grade history class. It was funny. Today I could sue. Crazy.

  33. Paul King says:

    This is a perfect way to teach what happened in the history of the U.S. It is true. It allows the students to see the devastating effects of these historical transactions. Those opposed are ignorant. It helps teach the tragedy of slavery.

    1. Max Conrad says:

      The United States rank 17th in educational performance. 17th. Maybe they teachers should be more concerned with turning out students that can actually find a job.

    2. You think they will do a mock attack on a village, imprisoning them and then selling them to white people when they do African history? Because enslaving other tribes is a part of African history… still goes on as well.

  34. Was the child upset by this, or only the parents? I suspect the kid understood it was play-acting and wasn’t bothered at all, but we don’t know one way or the other, since the story mentions nothing about the reactions of the children involved, only that of adults.

    1. They are 5th graders you imbecile..

    2. I’m sorry but I don’t consider the gut reaction of 10-11 year olds to be the best guideline for what is appropriate.

  35. I can see why you progressive fu…. morons are against school choice..

  36. Al Cackowski says:

    people are offended!!!

    quit teaching history !!!

  37. Steve Peck says:

    Did they tell the children that as prisoners of tribal war they were to be put to death and only a lucky few would be spared and sold as slaves? Did they tell them that their new owners would have responsibility to house, feed and provide medical care if they were sick? Did they tell them that their descendants could one day point to Africa; a land of poverty, disease, slavery, tribal warfare, genocide, famine and tyranny, and said “there but for the grace of God and the institution of slavery go I.”

    1. Robin Rhea says:

      Good Point. Do you think when they teach Muslim History, they will mention Slavery is a part of their Culture, even today.

    2. Robin Rhea says:

      Slavery is always portrayed, is the worst light Possible. Their were exceptions. Jack Henson, of Dover, Tennessee, offered his more than 100 Slaves their Freedom, 8 months before the Emancipation Proclamation, freed slaves, by the way in the Southern Warring States only. Oddly, none of his Slaves, chose Freedom.

  38. How about a real slave auction? No impact if you know it isn’t real.

  39. Kim A Kirk says:

    I think a more relevant lesson would be to forcibly take money from these students and give to the ‘slave’ students to pay for their health insurance.

  40. gee talk about insensitive….

  41. bdnsc says:

    “We have to do better for our children,” Elissa Malespina said”……
    Easy! Get rid of the liberals running it!

  42. So how much were the children going for? A good reporter would have found that out.

    1. bdnsc says:

      You beat to it!

  43. Time to take back the educational system from the radical left. These people are damaging kids with their radical ideology. SMH.

  44. When will learn the lesson that if you want an issue to die (grow above it) you let it die?? 5th graders….do what they are told so they can get to recess, lunch or something they enjoy…..only lesson here, the teacher is a self absorbed idiot.

  45. Public Schools…….sheesh.

  46. we need to get these kids hating themselves for their skin color early…they didnt get to me early enough, which is why i am just fine being white and have zero guilt. i am a good person no matter what the tv or evil professors tell me

  47. This still doesn’t make sense. Did the children initiate the slave trade? The sub should have stopped it. I think we are not getting the whole story….

  48. The vile, vulgar and violent left perverting the education system. Teachers like that should not be alllowed near kids.

  49. Terry Mi says:

    This was just plain stupid. Why didn’t the idiot sub offer herself as the slave?

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