Third-graders in Gwinnett County, Ga., were given math homework this week “that asked questions about slavery and beatings,” Yahoo reports. Christopher Braxton, a father of one of the third-graders, told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, “It kind of blew me away.” Braxton pointed out a word problem that read, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”
Other questions involved slaves being beaten and picking cotton. “I was furious at that point,” Braxton said. Parent Terrance Barnett told WSB-TV, “I’m having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem. That hurts.”
But here’s the worst part:
School administrators tried to explain the gaffe by describing it as a “cross-curricular activity.” Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said “the teachers were attempting to incorporate social studies into math problems.”
Ummmmmm … really? I know that’s such a lame response on my part, but really? That’s the best excuse you can come up with? If your teachers are trying to incorporate slavery into math, why not paint slavery in a negative light? “If five slaves were headed north and three also seeking freedom joined them, how many people in total were running for their lives from evil masters trying to chase them down and whip them into submission?” I bet the same people who thought these word problems were okay wrote other “social studies” problems like, “Five Yankee soldiers lie bleeding on the battlefield. No Union soldiers came to their aid. How many Yankee soldiers died that day?” Answer: who cares?!
Obviously, there’s no good way to write a word problem about slavery, guys. Come on. “We understand that there are concerns about these questions, and we agree that these questions were not appropriate,” Roach said. Adding (in her mind), “But we just couldn’t help ourselves. We miss the old South. Guess I’ll have to take that confederate flag down now, too. Hrmph.”