Editorial: Short takes on bad teaching, bad executing and bad elder care | Editorial

By the Editorial Board

Teach your children well, but not like this

A New York teacher was suspended after assigning Black and white students to pick cotton and wear handcuffs in lessons about slavery and crime. At the Rochester School of the Arts, social studies teacher Patrick Rausch referred to himself as “massah,” according to parents of children in his seventh-grade class. The kids were told to pick seeds from balls of cotton they were given, but at a certain point Rausch excused the white students while telling Black students to continue picking, The New York Times reported.

Parents said such exercises had been going on the entire school year. Another exercise involved having the kids put on handcuffs as part of a magic trick. Rausch told them to try to escape from the cuffs, and when some students couldn’t escape, he berated them.

Parents and students posted angry characterizations of the class online, including a quote from student Jahmiere O’Neal’s version of the cotton reenactment: “He said, ‘Better clean it right, boy.’”

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According to one unconfirmed allegation regarding the use of trick handcuffs, when one mixed-race student couldn’t get out of the handcuffs, Rausch was said to have responded: “It’s OK, your ancestors couldn’t do it either.”

In Milwaukee, Craig and Kelly Robinson are suing their school district after their children, ages 9 and 11, were expelled in alleged retribution for the parents’ complaints about racially insensitive classes. They cited one class years ago about the Underground Railroad in which students dressed up as slaves while teachers, playing slave masters, chased and captured them. Craig Robinson is the former first lady Michelle Obama’s brother.

Lavrov reinvents Holocaust history

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov alleged on Italian television that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood.” Lavrov made the claim after he was asked why Russia claimed as a justification for its invasion that it needed to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, especially considering that the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is himself Jewish. Lavrov went on to say, “When they say, ‘What sort of de-Nazification is this if we are Jews, ‘well, I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett denounced Lavrov, saying the assertion was an “unforgivable” falsehood that debased the horrors of the Holocaust. “Such lies are intended to accuse the Jews themselves of the most horrific crimes in history that were committed against them,” Bennett said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded that it is “incumbent on the world to speak out against such vile, dangerous rhetoric.”

Reprieve over faulty execution drug

Tennessee’s Republican governor stopped the use of an execution drug because the compound was deemed to be potentially toxic. The decision led to the postponement of a scheduled execution, buying convicted killer Oscar Smith more time. He was an hour away from execution before Gov. Bill Lee stepped in. A federal public defender praised Lee’s decision.

The strange thing about it is that all execution drugs are toxic to humans. That’s the whole point. But in this case, the state had a shortage of its regular execution drug and was forced to hire someone to compound a cocktail of drugs to accomplish the goal of ending a life. The compound wound up producing endotoxins from bacteria that could interfere with the life-ending drugs.

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