Parents in Norcross, Georgia blasted school officials at Beaver Ridge Elementary School after teachers gave third graders a math worksheet that used examples of slavery in word problems. Following the uproar, district officials said the school’s principal will work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons, but that didn’t go far enough for parents who called for an apology and diversity training for teachers at Beaver Ridge, where a majority of the students are minorities.
Examples on the worksheet included “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?” Officials said teachers were trying to incorporate history into the math lesson as part of a cross-curricular activity based on a book the students had read about abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “Clearly, they did not do as good of a job as they should have done,” district spokeswoman Sloan Roach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
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.
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. [...]
Parents told Channel 2 Action News, a reporting partner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that they were shocked that the assignment was dispersed to their children.
“It kind of blew me away,” Christopher Braxton, the father of a Beaver Ridge student, told Channel 2. “I was furious. … Something like this shouldn’t be embedded into a kid of the third, fourth, fifth, any grade.”
Braxton told FOX 5 that the questions were “at best, the questions were callous and, at worst, racist.” Roach said the questions would not be used again.
She told the AJC that she was not sure if the teachers and staff at Beaver Ridge Elementary had received diversity training recently. At the school, 62 percent of the students are Hispanic or Latino, 24 percent are black or African-American, and 5 percent are white, with 87 percent of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.