SMH: Georgia School Uses Slavery Examples on Math Worksheet

SMH: Georgia School Uses Slavery Examples on Math Worksheet

At Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga., parents are in an uproar that a math worksheet asked about slaves picking fruit and being beaten.

Published January 9, 2012

It’s reasonable to assume that elementary school teachers know what constitutes an appropriate — or inappropriate — way to teach children their lessons. But that may not be the case at one Georgia school.


At Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga., parents are in an uproar because their children were given an arithmetic worksheet that used examples of slavery.


“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” the problem-solving worksheet read.


And, just when you thought it wouldn’t get any worse, the assignment continued, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”


In response, school district officials tried to clarify that teachers were attempting to incorporate history into their third-grade math lessons … but really?


Over the years, the usual method of creating math problems has been described as teachers providing just enough information to establish the background of the problem and allow students to clarify, interpret and attempt to construct a solution.


The concept of problem-solving seems beneficial, but in a school whose population is 62 percent Latino, 24 percent Black and 5 percent white, many felt it was dead wrong to have children be presented a humiliating vision of their ancestors as if it were a morally neutral situation, as math problems normally are.


“No matter how you cut it, there is no dignity in slavery,” Quentin Lawson, executive director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, tells “Whereas the concept of integrating history and math is commendable, the example used by the Beaver Ridge Elementary School was totally inappropriate, inexcusable, and indefensible. “


Hopefully, this teacher has learned her lesson, and from the backlash of parents demanding an apology and diversity training for all teachers and district officials, hopefully other schools will know to not make the same mistake.


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(Photo: Courtesy ABC Action News)

Written by Danielle Wright


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