The Sideshow

Teacher fired after assigning violent math problems to third graders

A Washington, D.C., charter school teacher has been fired after it was discovered the teacher had assigned third-grade students a number of math problems framed around violent and illegal scenarios.

At first, the unnamed teacher at the Trinidad Center City School claimed he had been ordered to assign the problems, but it was quickly discovered that the teacher had actually downloaded them from a free homeschooling website called "HomeschoolingParadise.com."

"I was absolutely distressed," Dr. Beverley Wheeler, the CEO of Center City PCS, which oversees Trinidad, told WUSA9.  "It doesn't follow anything we do. We are about character, excellence and service and I found them to be violent and racist."

Even more baffling, other parents at the school say the teacher in question is a minister.

[Parents outraged after homework references slavery, beatings]

I went to the Homeschooling Paradise website and took a look at the third-grade homeschooling "Worksheets" curriculum. To start, the site's own promotional slogan uses oddly harsh (and racially problematic) language, asking:

"Want your kids to sharpen their mathematical skills to a razor's edge? There is nothing better than grinding their neurons on Singapore math." You can read more about the Singapore math system here.

Here are some of the suggested math problems from the site. And to be clear, I'm not cherry-picking; almost any question picked at random will reflect the concerns expressed by Dr. Wheeler:

"I was sleeping one night when a hungry vampire sucked 3652 liters of blood from me and 1865 liters of blood from my little brother. How much blood did the hungry vampire drink that night?"

Another reads:

"I took a nap in a bog one day and woke up screaming. 3796 leeches, 2910 fleas and 1044 vampire bats were stuck to my bald head drinking my blood in ecstasy. How many bloodthirsty bloodsuckers were dining on my head?"

And check out this incredibly morbid problem:

"John's father gave him 1359 marbles on his birthday. John swallowed 585 marbles and died. 9 of John's friends came for his funeral the next day. John's grieving father gave the remaining marbles to John's friends in equal numbers. How many marbles did each friend get?"

Last I checked, most kids are warned against indulging in tobacco products. Nonetheless, Homeschooling Paradise offers this equation for children to ponder:

"John, Jack and Jim lit up their pipes after dinner and began blowing smoke rings. By the time they were finished, they had blown a total of 6437 smoke rings. If John blew 52 smoke rings and Jack blew 3896 smoke rings, how many smoke rings did Jim blow?"

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