Anti-slavery symbol depicting two shackled hands crossed.
Math word problems for third graders depicting slavery have one Georgia school in trouble. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Vectorportal/Flickr)

Parents of third-grade students at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga., were stunned to see math homework filled with painful reminders of America’s past. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some students at the Gwinnett County school received worksheets including word problems referencing slavery.

Slavery word problems leads to school taking a beating

Beaver Ridge principal Jose DeJesus has vowed to personally work with teachers in order to produce more appropriate lessons for third-grade students, notes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Teachers claim they were merely attempting to incorporate history into math lessons. The uproar came from slavery-related word problems including the following:

Principal DeJesus’ promise wasn’t enough for some parents of Beaver Ridge students. The demand for diversity training for teachers and district officials – as well as a personal apology – has been issued.

“That’s how people learn from one another, and that’s how we all grow,” said area parent Jennifer Falk, a community activist whose two children went through Gwinnett high schools. “Intentionally or not, this was inappropriate.”

‘Poorly written questions’

School district spokeswoman Sloan Roach told local media that DeJesus is currently in the process of collecting the assignments so they won’t continue to circulate. The teachers weren’t trying to intentionally offend anyone, Roach says. The slavery word problems were “just poorly written questions,” she said.

Roach said that it wasn’t clear whether Beaver Ridge teachers had gone through diversity training recently. Principal DeJesus will reportedly soon meet with parents who have additional questions and concerns regarding the nature of the homework assigned to students at the Title I Distinguished School.

It is unclear whether an apology will be issued by the school or school district, which does not sit well with parents like Falk.

“I think the teachers should be reprimanded for using that poor judgment, and an apology should be made,” she said. “But the bigger question is how could something like this happen?”

Atlanta TV coverage of slavery word problem


Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hip Hop Wired

WSBTV 2 Atlanta

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