Slavery Teachers Under Fire

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 11:34am

Parents and activists demand elementary teachers who used slaves and beatings as math problem subjects be fired.

Civil Rights activists and parents marched outside Beaver Ridge Elementary in Norcross, Georgia Tuesday afternoon, calling for the firing of two teachers.

In a worksheet distributed to four 3rd grade classes students were asked to solve the question: "Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

Another question asks: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?"

Chris Braxton said he first saw the problems last Wednesday when his son asked for help with his homework.

"When I saw that question, I called my wife from the other room and said, 'Look! Did you see that question?'...Now my son is asking questions about slaves and beatings and I have to explain all that to him. I felt he wasn't ready for that yet," Braxton said, adding that he and his wife are thinking of transferring their son to another school.

Braxton and his wife Nicole Thompson met with the principal Jose DeJesus Tuesday morning.

The couple says the principal apologized to them and told them they are investigating the incident, but would not give a timeline for when a decision could be announced.

Thompson says school officials told her two teachers wrote the questions sent home with four 3rd grade classes.

Thompson says her son's teacher has not been at school since last week.

A substitute has taken over until the investigation is completed.

Gwinnett County School spokesperson Sloan Roach said that the two teachers who wrote the questions were trying to create a cross-curricular assignment, mixing social studies with math.

Roach said the district acknowledges the questions were inappropriate.

"There's a lot of these types of assignments that go out that the principal doesn't see," Roach said. "In this case, it was a teacher-based assignment."

"This was not done intentionally, there was no intent behind it, these were just not good questions that were asked," she added.

The problems were written by one teacher and photocopied by another before being distributed to four of the school's nine 3rd grade classes.

Both teachers are now facing a district human resources investigation.

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