Moral Low Ground


“If 8 Slaves Pick 56 Oranges…” Norcross, Georgia Elementary School’s Racist Math Problems Rankle Parents

An elementary school in northern Georgia has come under fire over a worksheet that contains math problems that utilize racist scenarios from the slavery era as examples.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, someone at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Gwinnett County created the shocking worksheet, which was distributed to third-graders and included the following questions:

“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”


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

These math problems have enraged parents of Beaver Ridge students, 86% of whom are black or Hispanic.

“It kind of blew me away,” Christopher Braxton, the father of a Beaver Ridge student, told Channel 2. “I was furious. … Something like this shouldn’t be embedded into a kid of the third, fourth, fifth, any grade.”

“I think the teachers should be reprimanded for using that poor judgment, and an apology should be made,” Jennifer Falk, a community activist whose two children graduated from Gwinnett County high schools, told the Journal-Constitution. “But the bigger question is how could something like this happen?”

Parents are calling for an apology and diversity training for teachers and school district officials in the wake of this alarming incident. Those officials said that teachers were trying to incorporate history into students’ math lessons. The offending worksheet should have bene reviewed by officials before being distributed to students, but this obviously did not happen.

Officials said they would work with math teachers to come up with better questions.

“Clearly, they did not do as good of a job as they should have done,” district spokeswoman Sloan Roach admitted to the Journal-Constitution. 

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  1. Patricia YoungJanuary 8, 2012 at 2:40 pmReply

    This story demonstrates how racial prejudice is indoctrinated into folks…it starts early on in a child’s life. Every parent needs to monitor their children’s homework and don’t take for granted that the teacher/school knows what is best for your children. Get involved parents…be proactive…stand up for your children!

    Shame on the ignorant racist teacher who had the gall to give this worksheet out to innocent 3rd grade students. You should be fired!

    • ms angieJanuary 9, 2012 at 8:37 amReply


      • Danielle KesslerJanuary 9, 2012 at 11:56 amReply

        Ms. Angie,
        Your statement is almost as discriminatory as the video in claiming that the entire state is that ignorant. It’s not ignorance, it’s racism. These teachers knew that these questions would not be appropriate yet they chose to present them anyway. Do not clump the entire state with people of this moral standing. BTW, learn to spell and grammer check before you hit “Submit Comment”

        • Just BrowsingJanuary 9, 2012 at 2:34 pmReply

          Psst! Danielle… It’s “grammar”. Pot, meet kettle.

          • AWMJanuary 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

            Psst! Just Browsing…it’s “grammar.” The period is placed inside the quotations for this example.


          • MaxxLargeJanuary 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            There are actually two versions of the “period inside/ outside the quotation mark” debate. Here in America we place the period inside the marks, BUT, British teaching places the period outside the marks. So, before you can call “pot meet kettle”,you need to ask where the author of the comment may have received his/ her education. Thank you, and “God bless the education system.”

  2. DanJanuary 9, 2012 at 4:05 amReply

    I am not sure how racism is supposed to be ended when teachers are conducting themselves in this manner. When I looked up this particular school on Great Schools dot com, it states that the population of students attending this school are 63% Hispanic, 26% African American, 7% Asian and 4% Caucasion. This is purley a case of trying to sabotage the minds of young Hispanic and African Americans by spewing propaganda for some racists teachers agenda. It is disgusting. While it is important for these youngsters to learn about history, this line of questions went way overboard.

  3. AdamJanuary 9, 2012 at 5:53 amReply

    I don’t even know where to start with this one.

    I give credit to the people interviewed for their calm and measured responses. They must have been really angry.

    The problem with the orange trees doesn’t even make sense as a math problem. It doesn’t say how many trees.

  4. Three3January 9, 2012 at 7:51 amReply

    This goes beyond racist, it’s just plain stupid!

  5. KandyJanuary 9, 2012 at 11:23 amReply

    The “school officials” can only be as smart as the “superintendent”; the “principal” can only be as smart as the “superintendent”; the “teachers” can only be as smart as the principal. It’s a trickle of ignorance, arrogance, stupidity, and blatant racism that needs to be addressed. Parents should be outraged and demand an apology first, and the resignation of the teacher(s) that used those math problems. I’m sure they found them to be whitey and humorous, so let them laugh their asses to the unemployment line.

  6. CherylJanuary 9, 2012 at 4:16 pmReply

    I do not where to start. Cross curriculum is like this: math-science, SS-English. Apparently, the history teachers are not doing their part, if the student did not understand why his father was upset!

  7. tanishaJanuary 9, 2012 at 9:08 pmReply

    Omg! incorporate history I don’t think so not that way at all disgusting that racism still exist

  8. MichelleJanuary 10, 2012 at 6:44 amReply

    As a resident of gwinnett county, I do not support what our local school system did as far as making this work sheet. This particular work sheet reflected upon african slavery only. I do feel that teachers need to continue their education, and work as a team but this act was not team work.

    Slavery is also more than just a black/white issue. Slavery happened world wide and just not between the african people and the americus, if slavery is taught we need to teach about European slavery, muslim slavery, and so forth.

    The topic of slavery will always be touchy for some but it is our history and we have learned (or so most of us have), from the past. Many hero’s and heroiens were born from those days, and in due time the subject should be taught tastefully and respectfully.

  9. Yvonne HepburnJanuary 10, 2012 at 11:05 amReply

    Michelle January 10, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Slavey may not have been just a black/white issue, but you must admit black people living in America was like living in hell. They should have left us where we were. The person that wrote these math questions is clearly racist, and should be fired. Way to go Georgia! – Michigan resident.

    • NotIgnorantJanuary 12, 2012 at 12:24 pmReply

      Yes…because a handful of teachers did something stupid, ALL of Georgia should be blamed! Isn’t that like blaming ALL of Michigan for producing bad cars which nearly went bankrupt if it weren’t for the help of us tax-payers (yes, including GEORGIA tax-payers). Just thought I would point out how ignorant “Michigan” must be…

      • Brett WilkinsJanuary 12, 2012 at 12:27 pmReplyAuthor

        Agreed. I also don’t like it that it’s still considered “acceptable” to poke fun at white “hillbilly” types with incest and ignorance jokes and the like. We must be careful not to become the monsters we fight!

  10. LilRdVet2January 10, 2012 at 2:44 pmReply

    I grew up (white) in the Deep South during the early 60’s and was NEVER asked such questions on a test…all I can say is WOW! Just F’ing WOW!! How anyone would find it acceptable or appropriateup for any age group on any level in this day and age is beyond comprehension…I hope they all get fired and are denied unemployment for violating policy! Disgusting!

  11. JWishJanuary 10, 2012 at 11:10 pmReply

    Reprimanded? Apology? Diversity training? It’s 2012. If Georgia doesn’t want to be seen as WAY behind the times, those responsible should simply be FIRED. If they are really dumb enough not to know how extremely offensive and absolutely inappropriate those statements are, then it’s amazing they got through school, much less that they actually were hired as educators. Sadly, they are most likely not that dumb, just haters.

  12. Rev. N. L. T.January 11, 2012 at 5:51 amReply

    We are living in a modern world where education is supposed to be the answer to fair play and sensible understanding. But some of us are so full of hatred that was transplanted by people who are dead and gone. However, this person who made up this test about the oranges and the slaves is blinded by this prejudice and hatred. We would expect this from back wood fools, but not from an educator. You are transplanting hatred and prejudice and taking a chance on loosing your soul in hell and leading the way for those who enjoy your unrighteous way of thinking. There is one servant of God who does not care if you call Him a slave, He died for us all. Only he who believes shall be saved.

  13. melissaJanuary 11, 2012 at 6:57 amReply

    I know many see this as racist, but I see this in a different way. People become math teachers because they enjoy math, not history!!! This school is trying to make teachers put a variety of curriculum into their lessons.

    I wouldn’t want a history teacher trying to teach math. They would suck at it. Same for math teachers trying to teach history. The math teachers were probably at a loss of how to incorporate math into history.

    As a chemist, how would I incorporate history into my chemistry lesson? Should I make reference to agent orange? I wouldn’t know what to reference unless my history background was sound (and it’s not).

    • Brett WilkinsJanuary 11, 2012 at 9:21 amReplyAuthor

      Drugs. I’ll never forget that there are 28 grams in an ounce. LOL.

  14. melissaJanuary 11, 2012 at 7:00 amReply

    And by the way, if I am not as outraged as the rest it is because I basically see how our teachers have been thinned out. I see how parents treat teachers now as compared to when I was a child. They have to have twice the workload they once had and put up with todays children who are usually spoiled brats. I feel sorry for them.

    • Brett WilkinsJanuary 11, 2012 at 9:22 amReplyAuthor

      Interesting point.

  15. MarcusJanuary 11, 2012 at 11:29 amReply

    Its the good ol boy dirty south! Don’t tell me you are shocked! Sad sad sad!

  16. Veronica ChapmanJanuary 12, 2012 at 6:01 pmReply

    I was driving in my car when I nearly crashed while hearing the news come over the KMOJ radio station tonight.The teacher the Principle and School board all need to be fired, this is 2012,It was a crime to enslave people and beat them in the first place, so how could this be used as a teaching guide for any age, let alone 3rd graders.Iam so outraged that there is people like that that call themselves teachers.So if you can teach this then you dont see nothing wrong, and thats sad. I got a question for this so called teacher. I wonder how many letters will need to be written demanding your resignation, and your superiors ? With teachers like that, we are better off home schooling our own.

  17. fivesinatrasJanuary 13, 2012 at 12:31 pmReply

    When I first read this I was as outraged as most of you. However, after watching the video I have to wonder to what extent this has been taken out of context by a news outlet looking for a clearing appealing/appalling story. We are all quick to assume that this was done with the worst of intentions, but if truly part of a cross-curriculum lesson for a school composed primarily of children of color, would not the history lesson showing how horribly slaves were treated be important? could the teacher who created the math component of such a lesson module be attempting to reinforce the notion of how different and bad it was to be alive during such a time? After all, the teacher was not interviewed for a comment, must we assume this teacher was white? And would a lesson reminding children that not all people were free so recent in our country’s history and that they were not only subjugated but abused reinforce a racist agenda? Would this not serve only to expose an important truth many may otherwise wish to wash over or sweep under the rug?

  18. MelissaJanuary 18, 2012 at 4:58 amReply

    I agree with the other melissa on her point. I also want to say that in these “current” times, people of ALL races have a tendency to have racists thoughts or actions against one another, but what really stands out to me is that it seems African-Americans seem to be self-racist. My white children go to schools that are predominantly African-American. There are 5 white students out of 400 at my sons school, and about 7 students out of 300 at my daughters school. We are from a rural area where race was not an issue, but moved to a large city where the issue seems to revolve around everything. I’m not saying not to teach about slavery, but I think it should be done in an age-appropriate manner. I think racism is being instilled in young minds, rather than necessary knowledge due to teaching these things at such young ages. I don’t think it’s pre-school, elementary, or even junior high where these things should be taught. What is the purpose? We all know that people are different. Kids know that too! So why do we teach them to treat others differently, beginning at such an early age? Is any one person or race deserving of special treatment based on ancestry? Speaking for myself, I am tired of my kids bringing home Weekly Readers, Scholastic order forms, and school-based activities surrounded by African-American history. My daughter brought another Weekly Reader, for Black History Month, home yesterday that had not one single book in it for all kids. They were all about slavery and other black stories. She wanted to know where the “kitty cat” books were! So, again, I had to explain all about the black history month, for what reason, etc., etc., etc., yet again, because although Black History Month is in February, someone found it necessary to do this in January. In November, there was a field trip to learn about Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King Day Camp this month. This is all fine and dandy with me as long as there are opportunities to learn about important people of ALL races, and this is yet to be on the agenda of these schools and I doubt they have any intentions of doing so, because why the heck is Neil Armstrong or the Wright Brothers? Overall, my point is this is 2012, not the 1960s for prior. It’s time for curriculums to focus on all of history, not just the subject that produces anger amongst students and adults. Equal rights? Everyone has them, so why are people still wallowing in the past, both white and black?

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