Mooney slavery lesson labeled as 'misguided' and 'troubling' - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mooney slavery lesson labeled as 'misguided' and 'troubling'

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

An organization representing Cardinal Mooney High School minority graduates is calling a classroom lesson purportedly aimed at recreating the experience of slavery, deeply troubling.

The Cardinal Mooney High School Minority Alumni Council has issued a statement saying that a Black History lesson subjecting any child of any race to the simulation, or actual practice of picking cotton is inappropriate, unacceptable, and has no place in the school.

The letter is in response to news that a Mooney teacher had students in an African-American History class pick seeds out of cotton while music from the slavery era played in the background.

When some students came home with baggies filled with the cotton this past week, some parents took to social media to express their displeasure with the lesson.

Acknowledging that certain content in American history is “sensitive and difficult” to teach, a statement from Cardinal Mooney said the lesson was on the role of slavery in southern agriculture.

Cardinal Mooney also responded to some claims that white students did not take part in the “cotton picking”, claiming that all students participated in each activity in the lesson.

The letter emailed to 21 News from the Cardinal Mooney High School Minority Alumni Council is unsigned, but President and Chair, Cheryl Cooper Perez is listed as the contact person for the organization.

The minority council says it has spoken directly with the parents of students who were present in the class, and has taken great care to identify and explore the real story.

“While we do concede that the coursework was based on—and intended to be compliant with--Ohio Learning Standards, we maintain that the manner in which it was executed was unfortunately inappropriate and unnecessary,” according to the letter.

The Minority Alumni Council is calling for the following steps to be taken:

  • Immediate support for diversity and sensitivity training for Cardinal Mooney faculty and staff
  • Scheduling of a town hall meeting for current Mooney students and parents, to ensure all voices will be heard and unique concerns can be openly addressed
  • The Minority Alumni Council will step forward to offer appropriate critical and cultural review of all current and future curriculum pieces presented in the African American studies course at Mooney, and will also work hand-in-hand with CMHS educators to develop and implement any necessary revisions required in order to better reflect the true values that we know CMHS advocates for all students. As an organization, we are working diligently to provide programming, scholarships, and enthusiastic advocacy to support the minority students that currently attend, have attended, and will attend Cardinal Mooney High School in years to come.
  • The MAC will embrace opportunities to collaborate with other organizations that share our passion for promoting excellence in all areas of service and education provided to CMHS students, including but not limited to Parent-Teacher Organizations, the local chapter of the NAACP, and the Diocese at large.

The local NAACP said it is investigating the matter.

The letter did not address the issue of the abrupt decision by Farrell High School officials to cancel Saturday's basketball games with Mooney.

Officials from both schools had no comment when asked if the decision not to play the game was related to the controversy over the Mooney history class lesson.

The letter from the Cardinal Mooney High School Minority Alumni Council may be read here:

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