Parents concerned about fallout from 'slave math'

By D. Aileen Dodd The Atlanta Journal-Constitution A teacher linked to assigning slave-themed math…

Georgia (Jan 19, 2012) — By D. Aileen Dodd


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A teacher linked to assigning slave-themed math at Beaver Ridge Elementary School has resigned, and parents said they're concerned about how their children are dealing with the assignment and the aftermath.

Gwinnett County School officials announced Wednesday that the teacher quit during a human resources investigation into the origin of the questions, which used references to slave beatings and picking cotton to link lessons about ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass to math computation. The 20-question assignment was created by one teacher, copied by another and used in four classrooms.

One of the problems: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"

Georgia teaching organizations urged the district not to fire the teachers involved in the lessons, but to train them. Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, called this a " teachable moment" for students and adults.

Education experts say the best way to win back parents after an incident like this is to be honest about the mistake.

“The teachers themselves need to apologize and directly acknowledge that a mistake was made and then start trying to rebuild confidence,” said Desha L. Williams, a math professor at Kennesaw State University.


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