Gwinnett County parents and activists have blasted the school district’s response following reports that students at a Norcross elementary school received a math worksheet that used examples of slavery in word problems.
School district officials said the principal at Beaver Ridge Elementary School will personally work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons and will offer more opportunities for staff development following the uproar created by the worksheet that included questions such as the following:
“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” and “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
That didn’t go far enough for some parents at the school, where a majority of the students are minorities. They called for an apology and diversity training for the teachers and district officials.
“That’s how people learn from one another and that’s how we all grow,” said Jennifer Falk, a community activist who recently had two children graduate from Gwinnett high schools. “Intentionally or not, this was inappropriate.”
School district officials said teachers were attempting to incorporate history into their third-grade math lessons.
“Clearly, they did not do as good of a job as they should have done,” district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.
Roach said the school’s principal, Jose DeJesus, was collecting the assignments so they wouldn’t be circulated. She said the teachers were not intentionally trying to offend the students with the questions.
“It was just a poorly written question,” Roach said.
Roach went on to tell My Fox Atlanta that, while the the questions were inappropriate, she doesn’t believe the teachers meant any harm.
Under district policy, the worksheet should have been reviewed before being handed out to students, but that process was not followed in this situation. District officials said they would work with math teachers to come up with more appropriate questions.
The most recent accountability report for Beaver Ridge, which has an enrollment of about 1,200 students, shows that 62 percent of the students are Hispanic or Latino, 24 percent are black or African-American, and 5 percent are white, with 87 percent of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunch. The school was recently recognized as a Georgia Title I Distinguished School for achieving adequate yearly progress for six straight years.
Find out what parents had to say in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.