Students Forced to Reenact Slave Trauma

Teacher Terminated for Slave Reenactment Lesson:

Recently a New York City public school teacher was terminated for having her students act like slaves in a planned lesson.

Picture of slave

Firstly, there has to be a massive disconnect for any educator on any level to feel as if it would make sense for students to reenact slavery.

Slavery within itself was one of the most traumatic periods in the history of the modern world. As a professional, to make the call to project said trauma on kids, is at best reckless, at worst maybe even criminal. It’s beyond me how any person, of any race, could think this was a good idea.

Colleague Says He was okay with the lesson:

Next, and maybe even equally as destructive as the slave lesson, an African-American teacher colleague of Ms. Cummings said: “I would have let my kids take part the lesson.” Honestly, I’m not sure what’s worse. Under no circumstances would I allow students to experience such abuse. Let alone my own kids. The adults directly involved in this case failed these students from a humanitarian perspective.


The teacher and teachers that have been terminated for similar acts are potentially filing a 1 Billion dollar class action lawsuit against the NYCDOE. The suit of the teacher involved in this article is for 120 million dollars.

Moreover, society is way too litigious. Teachers have unions. If the unions couldn’t get this teacher her job back, its safe to assume that an independent arbitrator also decided that this teacher and teachers like her weren’t fit to be teachers.

Student Trauma:

In addition, to then take the trauma inflicted on students to make yourself the victim is where I draw the line. Are the families of these students suing the teacher. In my mind, they would have every right to file a lawsuit. Given the potential animus that the students will have toward school, one would be remiss to say this experience ruined permanently dimmed the light for these students.


Notwithstanding, I agree with Ms. Cummings in that this is a teachable moment, but not for her, for the students. That lesson is when you do something that is egregious as having students relive ancestry trauma, you get held accountable for it. Sometimes lessons end up in termination. In this case, NYCDOE did the right thing for students.

For those of you unfamiliar with lawsuits and how they work, NYCDOE’s insurance company will settle with Ms. Cummings. It’s less for insurance to pay than it is for them to dispute this in court.

Author: Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr.

Mr. Ankrum is the current Superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School. Mr. Ankrum has gained notoriety as a school turnaround expert. He is enthusiastic about helping students from low (SES) find ways to end generational poverty through educational advocacy. If you believe PoC can end generational poverty by exercising educational opportunities, you have an ally in @Mr_Ankrum.

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