8th-Graders Made to Lie in Dark with Wrists Taped, Watching 'Roots' at Calif. School

Whitney High School,  Cerritos, Calif.

One of the things I enjoy is history re-enacting. I've re-enacted various eras of history at different times in my life, and I've always found it a unique way to learn about and understand the people from that era. It's easier to understand the misery of the Civil War when you're standing in a line wearing a wool uniform in 95-degree weather, something the history books tend not to discuss, for example.

However, one California high school decided to do a re-enactment and they did literally everything wrong. According to CBS Los Angeles, "Whitney High School junior Timothy Reyes had his hands taped together and was a part of a slave ship reenactment when he was an 8th grader on the Cerritos campus."

According to the report, "A mother complained recently after getting an email from her son’s teacher explaining the 'unique classroom activity,' which was to be a surprise. Staff would act as slave ship captains, the email described, and the children slaves."

"After lining the kids up, the note said, they’d 'use masking tape to ‘tie’ their wrists together, make them lay on the ground, and in a dark room have them watch a clip from the film ‘Roots.’"

Parents were upset, and even some teachers took issue with the activity. Even some students thought this was the wrong way to deal with this topic — and it is.

On the surface, a re-enactment of the horrific nature of the slave trade could easily be beneficial for students and faculty. It's one thing to see drawings in books, but another to see something like that in real life. It could have done a great deal to impart information.

However, you don't rope people into something like this against their will.

Yes, I understand that the slaves had no choice in the matter, but that's just it. We're not slaves. We abolished slavery over 150 years ago. Those days are over, and you do not get to treat high school kids that way.

What would have happened if they'd tried to secure a student's hands behind his back and he resisted, injuring a staff member? I'm sorry, but as a parent, had that been my child, I'd almost dare them to punish him. They'd be slapped with a lawsuit so fast it would make heads spin.

What would have happened if a student had a panic attack in the midst of this? What if this had been an actual triggering episode for a student who had been forcibly held against their will at some point?

Did anyone at this school think of this?

If anyone wonders why homeschooling is becoming more and more popular, this is why. If this is the much-vaunted "socialization" kids are supposed to get, can you really blame parents who say, "I'll pass"?