A Missouri school district came under fire earlier this month after a math problem featuring references to sexual abuse and sex work was shared on social media.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw, among others, shared an image of the shocking assignment, which was given to high school students at Lincoln County R-III School District in Missouri as part of an attempt to provide “cross-curricular content” to students.
“This is math homework from a public school district in Missouri. How does this help kids learn algebra, exactly? No wonder China is winning…” she wrote. DeSantis has spearheaded a successful agenda in the Sunshine State to combat controversial curricula in Florida’s public schools and has championed the cause of parental rights as he also campaigns for reelection in November.
This is math homework from a public school district in Missouri. How does this help kids learn algebra, exactly? No wonder China is winning…
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) April 17, 2022
The math questions pertain to biographical details of celebrated American poet Maya Angelou’s troubled childhood.
“Angelou was sexually abused by her mother’s ______ at age 8, which shaped her career choices and motivation for writing,” the assignment reads below an algebra equation. Students were expected to fill in the blank by choosing the option that corresponded with the solution to the equation, which in this case was “boyfriend.”
“Trying to support her son as a single mother, she worked as a pimp, prostitute and ______,” the second question reads, with the answer “Night Club Dancer” circled as the answer.
A USA Today fact check confirmed that the assignment was acquired on teacherspayteachers.com, a website that teachers can use to upload lesson plans and educational material to sell to other teachers worldwide.
Their sources confirmed that the district superintendent reached out to parents after the assignment was given to students to clarify that it did not “align with the beliefs or mission” of the district and was “not in line with approved curriculum.”
He also confirmed it would not be used in the future.
Teacherspayteachers.com also confirmed to USA Today that the assignment was “inappropriate and does not belong in classrooms or on our platform” as it conflicted with content that would “trivialize traumatic experiences, or disrespect, discriminate, or have the effect of marginalizing others.”
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