Slavery-simulation game causes stir
PHOENIX Use of an online game that simulates slavery has shocked and upset some Phoenix Elementary School District parents who say the tool trivializes a complex and potentially traumatic issue.
Mission US: Flight to Freedom has students adopt the persona of 14-year-old Lucy King, an enslaved girl trying to escape a Kentucky plantation. Following a choose-your-ownadventure format, students navigate the plantation master’s demands and plot a river escape, sometimes receiving beatings.
“I found out about it last week, when my son told me what happens in the game,” said De’Lon Brooks, whose seventh-grader attends Emerson Elementary, a K-8 school. “I was just like, ‘No. Not at all. That’s not going to work.’
“As a parent and as someone who grew up under civil-rights (movement) members, I couldn’t allow my son to be subjected to that without my permission,” Brooks said.
Phoenix Elementary district spokeswoman Sara Bresnahan said the district was unsure how the Flight to Freedom simulation made its way into the classroom and blocked access to Mission US on Tuesday.
She said the district’s “pacing guide,” an online repository of instructional tools made available to teachers, did not include that mission. The guide did include the City of Immigrants mission, which involves a 14year-old Jewish girl immigrating to New York from Russia in 1907.
Bresnahan said she agreed with parents’ concerns and was taking the issue “to district administration to be reviewed quickly.”
It was not immediately clear how many students had played Flight to Freedom. Bresnahan said the district knew of only one seventh-grade classroom that had used the simulation and was checking whether other teachers in the district’s 13 elementary schools had used it as well.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities provided funding for the development of Mission US, which earned nearly 20 awards and honors after its 2010 launch. The creators also provided supplementary materials for teachers who use the game in class.
In Mission US: Flight to Freedom, players adopt the persona of a slave trying to escape a Kentucky plantation.