VA Teacher's MLK Experiment Goes Awry

Feb 1, 2019

Credit melinda shelton / creative commons

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - A Virginia teacher is on paid leave after her Martin Luther King Jr. Day exercise sent a 6-year-old black boy home in tears.

Vicki Chen was trying to teach a lesson about discrimination to her first graders at Greer Elementary in Charlottesville. She modified a controversial experiment that a third grade teacher, Jane Elliott, did with an all-white class the day after King's assassination in 1968. Elliott's idea was to treat the white children differently according to eye color so they could personally experience discrimination.

The Daily Progress reports that Donise Redd-Martin told the school board this week that her African-American son "experienced psychological trauma" when children with blue eyes were rewarded.

Assistant Albemarle County superintendent Claire Keiser said Chen stopped the lesson after realizing it wasn't developmentally appropriate.