A Los Angeles elementary school is under fire for a homework assignment that contained a word problem with racial undertones.
In a report from NBC Los Angeles, second-graders at Windsor Hills Elementary School received a math homework assignment, which featured a slavery-themed word problem with words such as “slave,” “master” and “cotton.” Here is the problem in its entirety:
“The master needed 192 slaves to work on plantation in the cotton fields. The fields could fill 75 bags of cotton. Only 96 slaves were able to pick cotton for the day. The missus needed them in the Big House to prepare for the Annual Picnic. How many more slaves are needed in the cotton fields?”
Inevitably, the word problem angered many parents of students that attend Windsor Hills.
“It’s definitely disturbing using terms like plantation, master – my daughter doesn’t know what these things mean,” Kelly Gray, whose 7-year-old daughter attends the elementary school, said.
“This is Black History Month – it’s hard enough to know you have ancestors who were slaves, but to hear it’s blown up in this type of way is disturbing,” Karla Clark, another parent, added.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King issued a statement following the controversy. “L.A. Unified is committed to providing a safe, welcoming, nurturing and secure learning environment for our students. All employees are expected to treat students with respect,” King said. “The District takes this matter seriously, is investigating it and will take appropriate measures.”
As The Root pointed out, the Windsor Hills and View Park area of Los Angeles is a predominantly black neighborhood (although more white people have moved into the area recently), with the area being historically made up mostly of black people and the school serving a largely black population of students.