A teacher at Concordia High School in Kansas started a pilot program on where food comes from. As part of the curriculum, students raised over 40 chickens. Then, about five weeks later, their teacher made the students slaughter their animals.
Animal protection group United Poultry Concerns summarizes the slaughter as follows:
"The chickens were starved from Thursday afternoon until the Monday slaughter ... According to several students who attended the slaughtering, the chickens’ legs were wired together. The chickens were held over buckets. The students were handed knives, given a brief instruction on what to do, and told to do it quickly. The chickens were cut on or around the neck and hung over the buckets to bleed out. One student said that the chickens flapped their wings and struggled, and so the cutting was hesitant. Another student described how their chicken suffered and bled for over three minutes before finally dying. Students went back to other classes with blood on their clothes and some had blood on their foreheads and faces. Some students were distressed by a male student playing with a dead chicken’s head."
Permission slips are widely used by the school for everything from field trips to R-rated movies. But there were no permission slips sent home to parents for slaughtering chickens. When the students were told about the project, it was too late to transfer classes.
Students at Concordia High School are given choice-in-dissection, but teacher Nate Hamilton told the students that they all had to participate, and if they weren't cutting the throats, or gutting the chickens, they had to pluck the feathers or otherwise take part in the slaughtering process.
One student, Whitney Hillman, refused to kill her chicken. She'd bonded with him and considered him a pet, and she was only able to save him by taking him from the school and finding a safe place for him to live.
Mr. Hamilton is considering expanding the program to include fish or pig slaughter next year. Slaughter should not be part of a high school curriculum. Students need to learn compassion, not killing, from their teachers.
Tell Concordia High School Administrators to permanently eliminate animal slaughter from the classroom.
Photo credit: Steven Johnson
I am deeply concerned that high school students would be forced to participate in slaughtering animals. It is my understanding that Concordia High School offers choice-in-dissection alternatives, but Mr. Hamilton's students were not given any choice, nor were parents notified of the curriculum with permission slips. There were no warnings about the slaughter when students signed up for the class and there was no preparation for the trauma of the event.
What is even more disturbing about this lesson is that it taught students not to feel compassion for other living beings. They raised their chickens, having the opportunity to bond with the animals, and then, at their teacher's orders, starved the animals for days before the slaughter, then tied their legs with wire and were handed knives to slit the birds' throats. Students described their chickens suffering for over three minutes. Several students reported being upset by a male student playing with a decapitated chicken head.
While I can respect the concept of teaching high school students where food comes from, this should not include the hands-on experience of animal cruelty and killing. The link between animal cruelty and other violent acts is well-established, and children are particularly vulnerable. Studies have shown that half of school shooters have histories of animal cruelty, and children who abuse animals are likely to commit increasingly violent crimes. Students need to learn compassion, not killing, from their teachers.
I urge Unified District 333 to permanently ban animal slaughter from the curriculum. Students like Whitney Hillman, who broke school rules and stood up to her teacher to save her chicken, should not have to choose between the classroom and compassion.