Protesters call for firings in math homework controversy


NORCROSS, Ga.,None - Dozens of parents and community activists gathered outside a Norcross elementary school Tuesday, calling for the termination of teachers involved in a controversial math assignment.

"We're calling for the immediate firing, of any teacher that decided that this curriculum, and this to give out this worksheet was OK," activist Derrick Bozeman said. "What lesson is that trying to teach? What impression are we trying to leave?"

Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh went to Beaver Ridge Elementary School, where protesters marched with signs changing, “Fire them now.” They are upset about math homework questions that talked about slavery and beatings. The assignment was given to third graders on Wednesday.

Since Channel 2’s original story regarding the assignment aired Friday, the story has garnered national attention, including from the NAACP of Georgia, who is calling for the teacher who wrote the questions to be fired. The Gwinnett County school district has launched a human resources investigation into the case, but some parents want more action.

School officials said one teacher wrote the questions, four out of nine handed them out, and all nine are being questioned to determine how many teachers saw them. Some teachers may have never removed the assignment from their mailboxes.

One word problem asked how many oranges would each slave pick. In another, Frederick was picking cotton. Students were even asked to calculate how many beatings Frederick would get in a week.

On Friday, the district said the teacher was trying to reinforce social studies lessons through math but agreed the questions were inappropriate.

"If you're looking through and you're passing out school work and you're not even paying attention to what’s' being passed out, that's a problem," concerned parent Plechette Walker said.

But not all parents think the homework warrants firings.

"We just wanted to make sure that this doesn't happen again," parent Terrance Barnett said.  

Barnett was one of the first parents to contact Channel 2 after he saw his son's homework.

Barnett said he wanted to know how these questions slipped through the cracks, something he believes schools officials are addressing.

"By no means am I happy about the whole, entire situation. But as far as people losing jobs, that's not my goal. My Goal is that my son has a good education,” Barnett said.

District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the school principal is meeting with parents to address their concerns.

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