slaves picking apples

Did you read the story about the outrage of a Georgia school using references to slaves picking oranges in a Math problem? 


Some Georgia parents are outraged after they say an elementary school used examples of slavery and beatings to teach their children about math.

The problems in question appeared on a third grader’s math assignment.

One problem said, ‘Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave work?’

But the questions didn’t stop there. 

‘If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?’

Terrance Barnett was outraged when he read his son’s third grade homework assignment.”I’m having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem, that hurts,” he said.

Another father, Christopher Braxton, had a similar reaction. “It kind of blew me away,” said Braxton, “If Frederick, if anyone got any beatings you don’t put that into the homework of any sort.”


Reasonable taxpayers and parents like Mr. Barnett and Mr. Braxton ARE correct when they state “you don’t put that into the homework of any sort”.  What many parents and taxpayers are unaware about is WHY these type of comments may appear more often in math problems.  There is a reason and it’s because of common core standards.  From the school:


The Gwinnett school district spokesperson, Sloan Roach, said the third grade teachers were attempting to cross curriculums by adding some social studies lessons into the math problems. But the problem with these questions was the lack of historical context. (emphasis added)

 “We understand that there are concerns about these questions and we agree that these questions were not appropriate,” said Roach.


Perhaps Mr. Roach should have explained the “cross curriculum” mandate this teacher was attempting to fulfill, otherwise known as Common Core standards.  The mandates (note that these are mandates, not suggestions) require the “cross curriculum” of math problems and social studies content.  From ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development):

“…although standards in science and social science are being considered, the common core standards currently address only English language arts and mathematics. Effectively integrating all content areas into instruction is essential for students to receive a comprehensive education.

By adopting Common Core’s standards for their own, California and Massachusetts(MEW comment: insert YOUR state’s name here) significantly weaken the intellectual demands on students in the areas of language and literature. They also weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for actual college-level work now implied by each state’s current or draft standards.” 

So how is a school teaching the social studies it now does not have time to teach because of Common Core Standards mandates?  They are combining math problems to include historical facts normally taught in social studies!  The teachers have no time to teach civics or history, so those clever folks (they are NOT your state or school district employees) who are now writing the standards for YOUR teachers have mandated they integrate history and cultural knowledge in a tidy math word problem.

The third grade teacher was probably attempting to integrate what he/she is mandated and “allowed” to do within the mandates.  This is one of the first egregious examples of how the common core standards nightmare will manifest itself.  Did the teacher use bad judgment in the curriculum written?  Yes and no.  “Yes” to the parents and taxpayers as it came across as being incredibly insensitive but “no” if you understand the legalistic and dispassionate interpretation of the curriculum integration mandate by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Again, these type of mandates circumvent common sense which Mr. Braxton succinctly sums up in one sentence:

 “Whoever put together this paperwork and everything else, the schools and everything else shouldn’t teach it this way,” said Braxton.

Mr. Braxton is correct. “The schools and everything else SHOULD’NT teach this way”.  When a school has been mandated to teach subjects in a “one size fits all” method, the argument and push back should be targeted to CCSSI, the state school boards and the governors who signed onto this unproven, untested, unconstitutional and underfunded experiment which will hinder students and teachers.

Welcome to the world of Common Core standards.  

Did the district provide enough training (maybe it didn’t have the money available for these underfunded mandates) to this teacher so he/she could effectively integrate social studies and math “seamlessly” (a buzz word in Common Core public relations talking points)?  The teacher’s treatment of an important subject in American history used out of  context in a math problem has caused concern on many levels.  Will the teacher now be labelled as an “ineffective teacher” so he/she can be reassigned or terminated and a TFA teacher can take his/her place in the classroom?


This whole scenario is a script for disaster. 


Gretchen Logue

Share and Enjoy !

0 0