Teacher apologizes for tying up two black students during a class discussion on slavery

On Nov. 18 at Haverstraw Middle School in New York a teacher by the name of Eileen Bernstein and her class were discussing the conditions under which African captives were taken to America in slave ships. To simulate the experience she bound the hands and feet of two students and had them crawl under a desk.

One of the students, Gabrielle Shand, broke into tears when she got home and her mother, Christine Shand, issued a complaint against the teacher to the school and has gotten the local chapter of the NAACP on her side. She’s also considering taking legal action.

The Associated Press reported Friday that the teacher has apologized for the incident and Superintendent Brian Monahan of the North Rockland School District in New York City’s northern suburbs has said, “If a student was upset, then it was a bad idea.”

Neither Bernstein nor Monahan, however, have said that what happened was wrong.

I know it’s very hard being a teacher and that they must constantly struggle with coming up with innovative ways to capture their students’ attention. But, seriously, nothing in my mind would tell me it would be a good idea to tie up my students during a discussion of slavery or anything else.

But what do you think? Was this wrong or is the student’s mother overreacting?

Shout out to Lynielle for asking me to blog about this issue and sending me the AP story. Good lookin’ out!



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  2. why would the student even agree to do that?!!!

  3. who knows? she probably busted the rope out on them after they volunteered to “help” with the illustration.

  4. You know me…I’m always trying to come up with the “other side” to a story. BUT, in this case, be it the best way to demonstrate history or not, this was stupid, stupid, and more stupid.

  5. Well living in the great land called New York City, I happened to catch this on the news on an evening I could actually stomach the 6:00 broadcast (the local news here tends to be excessively depressing), and apparently the girl who’s mother complained says she didn’t want to do it..it was her and another student, who did agree btw, and I guess she thought she’d get in trouble for sticking to her guns??? What bothered me though was the principal, a black woman, who wasn’t too convincing in saying what this teacher did was all kinds of wrong…I guess she had to seem unbiased and show no certain emotions, but still…

  6. Ok so as a teacher I must say that this was the craziest crap that I ever heard!!!!! That was the worst idea in the history of teaching!

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