School officials investigating math homework about slavery

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NORCROSS, Ga. — Gwinnett County schools officials are investigating whether to discipline teachers who gave third-grade pupils math homework with word problems about slavery, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The district is working with the school’s principal to address the matter after parents called last week upset over the worksheets, district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. She said the district wants to “ensure that this does not happen again.”

“These particular questions were an attempt at incorporating some of what students had been discussing in social studies with their math activity,” Roach said in a prepared statement.

The NAACP has called for the firing of the nine teachers who sent home the questions and any other staffer involved in the homework.

“I refuse to believe the teacher or teachers responsible for allowing it to go forward did not understand fully what they were doing. We need to understand how deep this is,” state NAACP President Ed DuBose told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

One of the math problems reads: “Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

Another was: “If Frederick got two beatings each day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

District officials say one teacher wrote the questions, but the rest of the third-grade teachers used the handout.

“Who would think of such questions to ask third-grade children?” parent Nichole Thompson told WSB-TV. “I definitely want an apology. I want them to acknowledge that not only was this bad judgment on their behalf, but we need to do better.”

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 01/10/12 - 05:03 am
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I'm sorry, please explain how

I'm sorry, please explain how incorporating the two subjects is offensive? Does the NAACP and the parents NOT want to discuss the slavery topic at all, or do they want it only discussed in a seperate time and place? I actually think that involving the topic within other subjects is a clever way to make the children think of slavery as being more that a bunch of Africans being forced to pick cotton. Just in the 2 questions that were chosen for this article, it illustrates how slaves were made to pick more than just cotton and that they were often beaten! Doesn't that paint a more realistic and complete picture for the children? Wouldn't making the children eat cornmeal mush at lunch one day also drive the point home?...and no, I'm not kidding. The point is to educate the kids and have them learn about something that is completely foreign to them. These teachers should be commended for thinking outside the box, not made to apologize to thin-skinned parents.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/10/12 - 06:03 am
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“These particular questions

“These particular questions were an attempt at incorporating some of what students had been discussing in social studies with their math activity,”

I'm wondering if this worksheet had been multiple choice questions or essay questions concerning slavery and used in Social Studies class instead of word math problems used in Math class, would there be such an uproar? If the students were given the assignment of writing a paper describing the atrocities of slavery would the parents have been as upset.

GaOldCompass
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GaOldCompass 01/10/12 - 10:33 am
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Notice the interviews: they

Notice the interviews: they interviewed two families; how many others were not upset because the math problems were taken in light of the history matter? Did the media start a non-issue by finding opinons in the minority?

onlysane1left
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onlysane1left 01/10/12 - 11:34 am
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What if these questions were

What if these questions were about Holocast details? What if these questions were about Muslims killing Christans during the Crusades? How about ratio questions based on how many whites were killed during the Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner rebelllions? Yes, these are all historical issues too, but do they make appropriate question for THIRD graders? Decency. Discover it!

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/10/12 - 12:30 pm
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Onlysane1left, I understand

Onlysane1left, I understand your point of view, but when are we as a nation going to view the past as the past, learn from it and teach our children, and quit being offended everytime the past is brought up. No children today, no parents today, and most likely no grandparent today were slaves. Word math problems may not have been the best idea but you can not fault the teachers from trying to incorporate the subject matter into their lesson plans. Which would a child think more about? If a tree has 20 apples and John picks 5, how many are left. OR "Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” Especially if the students are learning about slavery and the hardships those slaves lived.

As for decency, look in the mirror sir. You know you might be able to see that plank from where you're standing.

GodisSoGood
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GodisSoGood 01/10/12 - 03:23 pm
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Sooo.....they aren't upset

Sooo.....they aren't upset about Social Studies teacing about slavery, but are upset about math problems? come on.....really?? I find this quite comical (not the slavery, but the hype about math problems.) Perhaps the questions should have alluded to the fact that many slaves were sold into slavery by their own people. Perhaps then the math problems would have been legitimate.

onlysane1left
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onlysane1left 01/10/12 - 04:00 pm
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ICL, I have a third grader, I

ICL, I have a third grader, I have talked to them about slavery as well as other hideous things that have happened in history. Picking math questions that include slavery is just not ethically reasonable. What if the question was: 39 states allow pre-term abortions, how many states do not allow it? (This problem includes current events, as well as, math and geography.) Is this an appropriate question? Or wait, Larry killed an abortion doctor and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, Gary robbed a bank and was sentenced to 25 years jail, how many more years of jail does Gary have over Larry? Peggy has slept with 10 guys and got 2 STD's, what is the ratio of men to disease in the lowest terms? Don't you think these questions would stick to these third graders and make them think about the topic?

My point is this: yes, history must be taught and it can be taught with math, but slavery for some reason is never a taboo topic in the US, yet, the Holocaust, abortion, sex are taboo. Hundreds of thousand of black died during slavery, and people act like it was the greatest period of American culture. Was it really? if so, why? No, we can not act like it never happened, yet, we can not treat it like it was just a petty moment in history that people need to just get over. If you don't understand and want to get a better view, just talk to a jewish survivor of the Holocaust and ask them why we should just forget it like it never happened. Slavery was nothing pretty, it is equal to the Holocaust, nor, was it something to just get over. To say just get over it, is the most insensitive thing to say about something that was not the best moment in human history.

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