When a student teacher at P.S. 59 in Manhattan saw the math homework for her fourth-grade class, it didn't add up: The assignment asked pupils to solve equations about the whipping and killing of slaves on a slave ship, reported local TV news station New York 1.
Aziza Harding showed the problems to her graduate-school professor at NYU, who vented his outrage to NY1. The station then contacted "appalled" P.S. 59 Principal Adele Schroeter.
According to the New York Post, teacher Jane Youn had originally distributed the problems -- reportedly written by students -- for a previous class to augment a social studies lesson on slavery. Another class was to receive the same questions for homework on Thursday, when Harding was asked to photocopy the assignment and instead blew the whistle.
One of the questions from the assignment:
"One slave got whipped five times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month (31 days)? Another slave got whipped nine times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month? How many times did the two slaves get whipped together in one month?"
In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post, New York City's Department of Education said: “This is obviously unacceptable and we will take appropriate disciplinary action against these teachers. The Chancellor spoke to the principal, and she has already taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
New York Magazine lambasted the teachers for allowing fourth-graders to solve equations "that casually reference people suffering and dying with little historical context." NYMag also suggested that the educators might have known of potential fallout because of a similar incident that led to the resignation of a teacher in Georgia last year. That incident included a math problem about a slave picking fruit and another about the amount of beatings someone received.