Gwinnett County parents and activists have blasted the school district’s response following reports that students at a Norcross elementary school received a math worksheet that used examples of slavery in word problems.
School district officials said the principal at Beaver Ridge Elementary School will personally work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons and will offer more opportunities for staff development following the uproar created by the worksheet that included questions such as the following: “Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” and “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
That didn’t go far enough for some parents at the school, where a majority of the students are minorities. They 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 who recently had two children graduate from Gwinnett high schools. “Intentionally or not, this was inappropriate.”
School district officials said teachers were attempting to incorporate history into their third-grade math lessons. (Source)
This happened. In 2011/2012.
“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”
Whaaaat? Did an adult write these questions? I need answers. Well at least it’s been brought to the attention of the Principal and this will all be taken care of….
Roach said the school’s principal, Jose DeJesus, was collecting the assignments so they wouldn’t be circulated. She said the teachers were not intentionally trying to offend the students with the questions.
“It was just a poorly written question,” Roach said.
JUST poorly written questions? Is she serious? This is more than just a bad judgement call by the teachers. It’s idiotic. Slavery in America isn’t something that should be treated lightly or used as word problems on a math test. The dark realities of American History are already white washed enough with people thinking slavery “wasn’t that bad” or that black people had it “better during slavery”. You would never see questions like “If there were 20 ovens and you had 5 Jews….”. Hell, even writing that to make a point made my skin crawl a bit. The fact that teachers, EDUCATORS, wrote these questions and never stopped once to say “Hey this is wrong.” calls into question the judgement of everyone involved from the teachers to the principal.
Under district policy, the worksheet should have been reviewed before being handed out to students, but that process was not followed in this situation. District officials said they would work with math teachers to come up with more appropriate questions.
Roach said she wasn’t sure whether Beaver Ridge teachers and staffers had diversity training recently, but she said DeJesus would be open to meeting with parents who had any further questions about the assignments. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the school or district would issue an apology.
Diversity training? The teacher who wrote these doesn’t need diversity training, they need to be fired immediately. It’s 2012. If you don’t know that using slavery as a “teaching aid” in this manner instead of trying to actually teach students the horrors of slavery, you don’t need to be a teacher. Like I said before, our kids (and adults) already do a horrible job of knowing the history of this country. I recently saw comments on the trailer to Red Tails where some people thought an all black fighter squadron during World War II was fiction. There are enough “real world” examples out there to teach kids math using word problems that don’t involve downplaying slavery or making it seem like it wasn’t a horrendous part of American history.