Daddy’s Cheating on Mommy: 4th Grade Homework Features Totally Inappropriate Questions

testRemember “story problems” back in the day?

You know, something like, “Jane gets on a train at four o’clock in the afternoon and Adam gets on the bus an hour later. If it takes the bus blah blah blah blah …”

Yeah, those.

Well, there’s a new breed of story problem hurting the brains of elementary age students but for a whole other reason.

A bunch of parents of students at Pasodale Elementary in Texas are pretty upset over a 4th grade reading homework assignment. According to KTSM-NBC El Paso it was supposed to be done in class, but when some kids didn’t finish it they brought the paper home and some parents noticed the assignment was completely whack.

Ursula Silverstein tells KTSM her 10-year-old daughter’s 4th grade teacher asked the class to read a series of paragraphs, and then answer questions about what each situation meant. It’s what is apparently called an “inference assignment.”

Here is a sampling of the paragraphs the 10-year-olds were supposed to explain:

Ruby sat on the bed she shared with her husband holding a hairclip. There was something mysterious and powerful about the cheaply manufactured neon clip that she was fondling suspiciously. She didn’t recognize the hairclip. It was too big to be their daughter’s, and Ruby was sure that it wasn’t hers. She hadn’t had friends over in weeks but there was this hairclip, little and green with a few long black hair strands caught in it. Ruby ran her fingers through her own blonde hair. She had just been vacuuming when she noticed this small, bright green object under the bed. Now their life would never be the same. She would wait here until Mike returned home.

  1. Why is Ruby so affected by the hairclip?
  2. How has the hairclip affected Ruby’s relationship?

Uh … Yeaaah. They want the 4th graders to explain that Ruby thinks her husband is cheating on her.

But wait! There’s more!

Valerie opened up the letter from the military department. She felt the pit of her stomach drop to the bottom of the earth before she even opened it. She knew it was news about John. As she read the first line, she thought of all of the lunches she had packed him and all the nights she tucked him in his bed and warded off the nighttime monsters. The man carrying the flag put his hand on her shoulder. She thought of the day that John signed up for the military. Her tears wet the letter. She stopped reading after the first line.

  1. What does the letter say?
  2. What is Valerie’s relationship to John?

Hey everyone! John is dead! He’s never coming back. Ever!

“I think life situations like that should be taught at home, not at school,” Silverstein tells the local news.

I’m definitely on the liberal side of learning but I’ve got to agree that adultery and death are two topics best left to parents to introduce to children. But other parents don’t consider the material inappropriate because they say kids are already exposed to these types of situations in real life. As notes, the story ignited a debate on Facebook with some parents leaving the following comments.

Gro Francesco said, “…is this material appropriate? No, I don’t think so but neither is letting them play violent video games, letting them get fat nor allowed (sic) them to dress like ‘thugs’ and listen to gangster music.”

Ruben Vaquez said, “if an elementary aged child can deduce what this is talking about then infidelity has already made itself known in their home … just saying.”

The Ysleta Independent School District apologized in a statement released late last week:

“YISD administration is aware of an unacceptable assignment that was given to a 4th-grade class at Pasodale Elementary. We apologize to the students and the parents who received this assignment. Campus administration has addressed the issue with the teacher, and has taken decisive measures to assure that future assignments are aligned to the curriculum and are of the highest instructional caliber.”

What do you think? Do kids infer more about adult situations then we give them credit for or is this assignment completely inappropriate? How would you feel if your child brought home this worksheet? Would you feel comfortable explaining the hair clip scenario to your 4th grader?


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