Parents in Georgia are outraged after their third grade children were assigned math homework containing references to slaves picking cotton and getting beaten, Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported.
Christopher Braxton told the station he couldn’t believe the word problems in his 8-year-old son’s math homework Wednesday from Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross.
One question asked, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If
eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” Another said, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?” A third question dealt with how many pounds of cotton Frederick had picked.
“It kind of blew me away,” Braxton said. “Do you see what I see? Do you really see what I see? He’s not answering this question.”
“Something like shouldn’t be imbedded into a kid of the third, fourth, fifth, any grade,” parent Terrance Barnett told WSB. “I’m having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem. That hurts.”
School district spokeswoman Sloan Roach told the station teachers were trying to do a cross-curricular activity, combining math problems with social studies lessons. While the district encourages such pairings, the problem with the math homework was that it gave no historical context to its questions.
“We understand that there are concerns about these questions and we agree that these questions were not appropriate,” Roach said. Still, she said she didn’t think the teachers were being purposely insensitive.
“This is simply a case of creating a bad question,” she told local Fox affiliate WAGA-TV.
The parents were told the school had collected the assignments and shredded them so that they wouldn’t resurface.
Roach said there is a process to review questions before they are given to students, but didn’t happen in this case. She said the administration will work with teachers about developing better questions that are “meaningful and appropriate.”