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NY Teacher Accused Of Making Black Students Pick Cotton & Wear Handcuffs For Lesson On Slavery

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Patrick Rausch and cotton in the hand of a black parent

A teacher in New York is under fire after students accused him of making Black students reenact slavery in a rather insensitive manner.

During a social studies lesson about slavery, Patrick Rausch allegedly made Black students recreate cotton-picking associated with slavery in the US.

The Rochester teacher is under investigation after allegedly telling black students to pick cotton seeds.

The Rochester School of the Arts teacher, who has been named Patrick Rausch, has been placed on administrative leave after an alleged incident that took place during a lesson.

One student who has spoken out about the alleged incident told news sources, “It made me feel bad to be a Black person.”

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Reportedly, while Rausch was educating his students about slavery in the United States, students were asked to wear handcuffs and pick the seeds out of cotton, as Black slaves once did.

While plenty of people might already have an issue with this lesson, the situation got even worse.

Patrick Rausch allegedly allowed white students to opt out of the lesson, but not Black students.

Two of the student’s parents reported that white students were allowed to abstain from the activity, but that Black students were told that they had to under penalty of a bad grade.

One of the students described the moment that she tried to get out of doing the activity, saying, “I immediately was like, ‘Oh, I’m not doing that,’ and then he was like, ‘Do it. It’s for a good grade.’”

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An investigation still needs to take place to determine the veracity of the claims, but the situation is so appalling that even Adam Urbanski, the president of the teachers union isn’t totally behind Rausch.

Ubranski said in a statement, “If someone departs from what they should be doing, they should suffer the consequences, but due process has to be allowed first.”

Many are outraged at the teacher’s behavior.

One parent said of her daughter’s experience, “She's traumatized; she feels belittled. He made a mockery out of slavery. How dare you.”

This might not be the first situation of its kind, reportedly, there was also an incident where Rausch made students where hand cuffs.

The school system seems to be taking the allegations seriously and are investigating the claims against Rausch. Board President Cynthia Elliott said of the incident, “In a district of Black and brown students, it is important to be sensitive of the historical framework by which our students are engaging and learning.”

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.