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Ga. Parents, NAACP Demand Teacher's Firing Over 'Slave' Math Problem

The debate over a math problem at a Georgia elementary school intensified today with parents protesting and the Georgia NAACP calling for the teacher who wrote the math problem to be fired.

At issue is a third-grade worksheet that included references to slaves filling baskets with cotton and this question: "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week? Two weeks?"

WSBTV, which first reported the story on Friday, said the Gwinnett County school district has launched a human resources investigation into the Nocross, Ga. school. In its report, the local station said one teacher wrote the question in attempt to circle back to a social studies lesson about Frederick Douglass. All nine teachers saw the questions, but no one objected.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reportson the scene outside Beaver Ridge Elementary School:

"About 60 parents, community activists and church leaders assembled outside the school. A few carried signs that read: 'Shame on them' and 'The teachers need to be fired.' Some drivers passing by the demonstration honked to show support.

"Parent Christopher Braxton, who complained to the district about the slave math questions, said his son's class was being led by a substitute teacher for the second day in a row as the investigation into the incident continues.

"Braxton said Beaver Ridge Principal Jose DeJesus would not elaborate on the status of the probe or his son's teacher. 'They apologized for the situation and said they could not speak about it further until they finish the investigation,' Braxton said."

11 Alive spoke to Sloan Roach, a Gwinnett County School spokesperson, who said, "This was not done intentionally; there was no intent behind it; these were just not good questions that were asked."

Braxton told 11 Alive that part of his issue with the question is that he felt his child wasn't ready for that kind of lesson about slavery.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.