'Would You Rather Be A Slave or Factory Worker?' Essay Question Upsets Student

Kaya James, 13, was disappointed when most of her classmates said they would be slaves. 

Posted: 03/14/2014 10:32 AM EDT

"Would you rather be a slave or a factory worker?"

Kaya James, 13, an eighth grade student at Novi Middle School in Novi, Michigan, was upset after a teacher posed this question to her class for an American History essay assignment.

The majority of her classmates raised their hands to say they would be a slave rather than a factory worker during the industrial revolution because it would mean free food and shelter. Kaya disagreed.

"I was disappointed because what slaves went through is really humongous and for them to say they would rather be a slave is really disappointing," she told ABC Detroit.

Later, Kaya told her mother Tina James about the essay question when she came home from school. James spoke to other parents who shared her concerns before taking the issue to the Novi Community Schools Board. 

"I feel that it was an unfair question to begin with and I didn’t want anyone to have to endure the pain that my daughter had to endure when she was asked to write this essay,” she told CBS News Detroit.

Steve Matthews, the superintendent of the Novi School Board, believes there was an attempt to teach students about the differences between slavery and factory work, but he believes James' concerns are right. He pulled the question from the curriculum and wants to approach it in a different way. 

"It clearly is a question that I don’t think helps students understand the depths of the suffering that the slaves endured back in the 1800s," Matthews said. 


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(Photo: Courtesy of WXYZ ABC7)

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