New York City Teacher Disciplined For Assigning Slavery Math Problems To 4th Graders
A teacher in New York City has been disciplined for using slavery as a way to gauge student’s competence in math. Jane Youn, of Manhattan’s P.S. 59, asked children to answer word problems about the sums of slaves being beaten and killed.
Youn sought to marry a history lesson on slavery and math by asking the students to come up with questions. She combined them with her own, about slavery, and handed out the homework assignment. Only one fourth-grade class received the work, which held questions like “One slave got whipped five times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month (31 days)?”
It wasn’t until student teacher, Aziza Harding, was prepping to hand them out to another class that the content was discovered. Harding read the questions while photocopying them. “I’m just like, ‘Wow, this is really inappropriate,’” she said. “It shouldn’t be a homework assignment, and I did not want to make copies of this.”
Harding, who is a student at NYU told her professor, who in turn contacted the school’s principle, Adele Schroeter. The Department of Education released a statement calling the actions of Youn and any others involved, “unacceptable” promising to “take appropriate disciplinary action against these teachers.”
Principal Schroeter is also said to be taking “steps to ensure this does not happen again,” including meeting with staff members to put together a “training around this issue.”
Photo: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP