slavery math problem

Elementary Students In L.A. Reportedly Sent Home With Slavery Math Problem

Parents of children attending Windsor Hills Elementary School in Los Angeles are outraged over a math problem involving slavery that turned up on a homework assignment during Black History Month.

A report from NBC Los Angeles explains that the word query, which appeared on a take-home sheet given to the entire second grade class of Windsor Hills Elementary last Friday, February 10, was first called out by Kelly Grey, the mother of a second-grader who attends the school.

“The master needed 192 slaves to work on plantation in the cotton fields,” the slavery math problem starts.

“The fields could fill 75 bags of cotton. Only 96 slaves were able to pick cotton for the 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?”

“When I [first] read it, I immediately told [my daughter] she would not complete that assignment,” Ms. Grey, a woman of African-American descent, recalled to NBC Los Angeles.

“It’s definitely disturbing using terms like ‘plantation’ [or] ‘master’ – my daughter doesn’t know what these things mean, [but I do].”

Ms. Grey’s mother, Karol Grey, was equally bothered by the Windsor Hills slavery math problem being given to her grandchild and expressed that she was “baffled” at the thought of an instructor not taking note of the offensive question before handing it out to students.

“Someone could have [asked], ‘are we really giving this assignment,” the elder Ms. Grey stated during a latter interview.

“I can’t imagine a month of any year of any era when this would be appropriate.”

Moreover, on the very same math assignment, as noted by the publication The Root, another question seems to also allude to some kind of forced human capture or seizure.

“Wednesday’s assignment [also] reportedly involved a man being shipped [to mail] ‘himself to freedom,'” the report states.

slavery math problem
The controversial assignment was given out at Windsor Hills Elementary School (seen here), as well as three other L.A. schools. [Image by preimecat233/Flickr Creative Commons|Cropped and Resized/CC BY-SA 2.0]

The head of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which NBC Los Angeles says is comprised of nearly 90 percent of students from non-Caucasian backgrounds, addressed the situation shortly after it went public and stated that “appropriate measures” had been taken to rectify the issue.

“L.A. Unified is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, nurturing and secure learning environment for our students,” Superintendent Michelle King remarked in a statement.

“All employees are expected to treat students with respect.”

Incidentally, nearly 85 perfect of students who attend Windsor Hills Elementary, which labels itself as a school of the “gifted and talented,” as the Chicago Defender relays, are said to identify as African-American or black. Through her own sleuthing prowess, Kelly Grey managed to ultimately discover — with the assistance of several other parents via her Facebook profile — that the slavery math problem had turned up on at least three other assignments given out at other schools in the Los Angeles area.

A social media connection of the younger Ms. Grey, Karla Clark, was among the many who found the inclusion of the question to be problematic.

“This is Black History Month,” she posted, as the Daily Mail relayed, “[and] it’s hard enough to know you have ancestors who were slaves, but to hear it’s blown up in this type of way is disturbing.”

In spite of the inappropriateness of the math problem, Ms. Grey’s mother seems to believe that no harm was truly meant by her granddaughter’s Windsor Hills Elementary teacher considering it was a full-class assignment and not just one for black children.

“I don’t believe anybody was intentionally being malicious,” she concluded, “but nobody was being cautious [either].”

What do you think, Inquisitr readers? Was the slavery math problem offensive to include on a homework sheet? Share your responses in the comments.

[Featured Image by CherriesJD/iStock]

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