Parents of students at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Los Angeles are outraged after second-graders at the school received a math homework assignment last week that contained a word problem with racial undertones.
NBC News reports that students received the following word problem as part of their math homework:
The master needed 192 slaves to work on plantation in the cotton fields. 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?
Karol Gray’s 7-year-old granddaughter had questions about her homework assignment Thursday and showed it to her mother. Gray said she was shocked at what she saw.
“Although it has racial undertones, I feel the worse undertone is, ‘What are we teaching our children?’” Gray said.
Windsor Hills is a gifted magnet school known for its math and science programs.
“Someone could have said, ‘No, this is impossible. Are we really giving this assignment?’” Gray said.
Gray said that the same assignment had been given to all the second-graders at the school since the start of last week. Wednesday’s assignment reportedly involved a man being shipped, “mailing himself to freedom.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King issued a statement that read in part, “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 measures.”
“I don’t believe anybody was intentionally being malicious, but nobody was being cautious,” said Gray, who also that she has gotten an overwhelming response since posting the homework assignment on Facebook.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that a homework assignment with a problem regarding slavery was given to young black students during Black History Month.
For those who do not know, the Windsor Hills/View Park area of Los Angeles is a predominantly black neighborhood. While more whites have moved into the area as of late, historically it has been made up mostly of black people, and that particular school has served a largely black population of students. In fact, 87.3 percent of students there identify as black American.
To give second-graders that type of homework assignment—especially with the egregious errors in the problem and the use of words like “master,” “slave,” “cotton” and “missus” and the phrase “needed them in the big house”—at a time such as this is inflammatory, racist, insensitive and disgusting.
I hope LAUSD finds out who wrote the assignment and fires that person, because enough with the bullshit already.