Parents are outraged and an investigation is underway after a math homework assignment for second graders used slavery as its setting during Black History Month.
NBC News Los Angeles reports the Los Angeles Unified School District is taking administrative measures against a teacher who gave a word problem to 7-year-olds that featured slaves, cotton picking, “masters,” “the missus,” and the “Big House.”
The math problem read: “The master needed 192 slaves to work on [a] plantation in the cotton fields. The fields could fill 75 bags of cotton. Only 96 slaves were able to pick cotton that day. The missus needed them in the Big House to prrepare [sic] for the Annual Picnic. How many more slaves are needed in the cotton fields?”
Yes, you read that grammatically incorrect math problem correctly. Five words: What was that teacher thinking?
Kelly Gray was made aware of the math assignment on Feb. 8 after her 7-year-old daughter asked for help with it. Needless to say, she wasn’t having it, calling it culturally insensitive.
“When I read it, I immediately told her she would not complete that assignment,” Gray recalls to the outlet. “It’s definitely disturbing using terms like ‘plantation,’ ‘master’ … My daughter doesn’t know what these things mean.”
After Gray shared the assignment on social media (and found that other students received the same assignment), District Superintendent Michelle King released a statement saying there would be an investigation:
“L.A. Unified is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, nurturing and secure learning environment for our students. All employees are expected to treat students with respect. The District takes this matter seriously, is investigating it and will take appropriate administrative measures,” the statement read.
Windsor Hills, labeled a “gifted and talented” school, is located in the predominantly and historically Black area of Los Angeles of the same name. More than 85 percent of the students at the school identify as African-American.
The teacher who gave the assignment has not been identified.
“Someone could have said, ‘No! Are we really giving this assignment?‘” asked Karol Gray, the 7-year-old’s grandmother. “I can’t image a month of any year of any era when this would be appropriate.”
She adds, “I don’t believe anybody was intentionally being malicious, but nobody was being cautious.”
SOURCE: NBC News 4, Los Angeles