The slavery worksheet used in the Pittsford classroom is from an online course source. So we bought the lesson


The Colonial Life lesson plan was not available for purchase.

We did not find any worksheets or lesson plans similar to those used at Pittsford and Webster. The company that produced them told us that they had changed the language.

Educators I’ve spoken to agree – teachers always share and use lesson plans purchased before changes.

The worksheet used in a fourth grade class in Pittsford in January indicates that the slaves “agreed” to work. The one used in Webster talks about “jobs”.

Both districts say the source of the material was The Classroom Nook.

In an email, The Classroom Nook owner, Rachael Parlett, told us that “the illustrated worksheet does not accurately reflect any material available from The Classroom Nook … the worksheet displayed contains very old parts of a unit over Colonial America. ”

So I went online and on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers, ordered The Classroom Nook lessons on Civil War and Colonial Jobs.

The Colonial Life lesson plan was not available for purchase.

Nothing in the material I have gone through matches the worksheets used at Pittsford and Webster.

Brean: “It seems there is a huge online industry where teachers can buy lesson plans. Is that true?”

Dr Shaun Nelms, Supt. of East High, Dr Ctr of Urban Education Success U of R: “Absolutely. There are sites everywhere where teachers can download lessons for sale, they can buy lessons.”

Shaun Nelms wears a lot of hats. He is the superintendent of East High. He is also the director of the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of R. He is developing a historically accurate and culturally appropriate American history curriculum before and after the 1964 Rochester Uprising and his goal is to get this curriculum into local schools.

“It’s really designed to get people to look at the historical context and think about those contexts in a way that doesn’t lead a child or their teacher down one path of inquiry. What are all the factors that surround them?” Nelms said. “These children will be leaving in 10 years without accepting the idea that people from the African continent came here as volunteer workers and were treated well and placed in jobs.”

Nelms is currently training 150 teachers. He says they will start entering schools over the next year, and Pittsford is one of the districts included.

The Pittsford school principal’s office shared this information with us on Wednesday:

The Pittsford Central School District is deeply committed to the forward movement for equity and inclusion in our schools. The PCSD, along with all of the school districts in Monroe County, has publicly committed to this work and has made many strides. To bring about systematic change, the goal must be to create change at the highest levels of the organization first, as policies have a direct impact on accountability and culture.

Last year, the PCSD reviewed its policies to ensure they matched the district’s mission, vision and values. The most radical policy that was created and approved by the Board of Education in Equity and Excellence in Education Policy # 3422. This policy has direct implications for the District’s strategic initiative.

Along with a policy review, district curriculum and education officials drafted a new curriculum for our social studies program. PCSD’s approach has always been to develop its own program and not to buy or rely on prepackaged products. We take great pride in reviewing best practices found across the country and trusting our content experts who share ownership of the material presented in our classrooms. This includes a partnership with BOCES and the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester to develop common study units for the 8th and 11th grade social studies classes that will focus on how race, class and inequality shaped County Monroe from 1964 until today. In addition, work will begin this summer on revisions to our Kindergarten to Grade 5 social studies curriculum units around the themes of equity, diversity, civic spirit and social justice.

The pilot of the new Curriculum Survey Units is expected to begin this fall, while other practical and important equity ventures include:

  • A new Board of Education policy that requires consideration of diversity in any new selection of textbooks
  • Teacher training (with regular and timely reinforcement) on how to teach and respond to texts sensitive to racism
  • Two-year “diversity audit” our K-12 librarians conducted in our nine school libraries
  • Equality in recruitment policies and practices
  • Increase access to engaging lessons and disproportionately reduce student achievement and discipline

After our story aired, Rachael Parlett, owner of The Classroom Nook, emailed this new information:

“While we discovered that this resource had been altered and misused after its release, we deeply apologize for the tone it set. We have updated this resource several times since it was first published to make sure it honestly portrays this dark period in American history, but we have taken the extra step to remove it from our platform in order to assess more its accuracy. We also ask anyone with these older or modified versions to remove them from their plans and in the future we ask them to ensure their proper use in the classroom. Once again, we apologize for the callous tone this set. “


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