Education leaders: Slave Math Lesson Should Not End Careers

Courtney Williams's picture
Friday, January 13, 2012

Parents should not rush to condemn third-grade Beaver Ridge Elementary teachers as racists for using slavery beatings to teach math concepts, say officials with Georgia educator organizations.

The slave math lesson created by a teacher to reinforce a lesson on Frederick Douglass may have used poor judgment, but it shouldn’t lead to the termination of those who wrote or handed it out without reviewing it, said Calvine Rollins, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, a professional organization of about 42,000 members.

The math assignment was sent home with more than 100 students. Among its 20 questions were word problems on slaves picking cotton and oranges. Some mentioned Douglass: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"

“This is an unfortunate incident,” Rollins said. “I don’t believe the teacher wanted to expose those kids to anything offensive. Gwinnett County teachers are dedicated. They work hard and try on a daily basis to do the right thing.”

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