References to Slavery in Math Worksheet Shock Parents

Parents in Gwinnett County, Georgia are up in arms after a 3rd-grade elementary school class was given math worksheets that used examples of slavery in word problems, write Joel Anderson and David Ibata at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The worksheets included bizarre questions, such as:

"Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"


"If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?"

School district officials responded by saying that the principal at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross will personally work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons. But that isn't enough for parents, who have called for an apology and diversity training for the teachers and district officials.

"That's how people learn from one another and that's how we all grow," said Jennifer Falk, a community activist and parent of former pupils.

"Intentionally or not, this was inappropriate."

Racism wasn't the only target of the worksheet:

"Susan B Anthony was fined $100 for voting for president. She had only $25, [sic] how much more did she need to pay the fine?"

Parents of students at Beaver Ridge Elementary School, where the worksheet was assigned, are outraged. Two parents were interviewed in by WSBTV, relays Howard Portnoy at the Examiner.

Terrance Barnett, a parent of one of the 3rd graders who had to complete the worksheet, said:

 "Something like shouldn't be imbedded into a kid of the third, fourth, fifth, any grade. I'm having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem. That hurts."

Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for the school district, said:

"We understand that there are concerns about these questions and we agree that these questions were not appropriate….

"This is simply a case of creating a bad question."

But Portnoy disagrees with this assessment. He believes it is more than just a ‘bad question'.

"The problems in this worksheet were obviously intended to be provocative.

"The only question remaining to be answered is the motive of the responsible parties. Was this garbage written by hardcore dyed-in-the-wool southern racists seeking to inflame old passions? Or was it someone with a stake in demonstrating that racism in the twenty-first century U.S. is alive and well?"

01 14, 2012
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