High School Math Problem Asks Students To Solve Child’s Sexual Assault
Two days ago it seemed sure that the worst homework assignment of the year would be the “go on a date with a classmate and act ladylike” assignment from a Utah Financial Literacy class, but the week isn’t even out yet, and a Pennsylvania math teacher is joining the competition with a high school math problem about sexual assault.
According to CBS, students at Pennridge High School in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, were given a math worksheet that included a question about sexual assault. Kids are given a basic algebra problem, and then asked to solve it to figure out which relative sexually assaulted a girl when she was 8 years old.
The assignment appears to be part of a worksheet on Maya Angelou, and it also involves questions about drugs and prostitution. Parents have been calling the school to complain about inappropriate content on their kids’ math test, and also to ask why this was in a math class in the first place.
It’s an oddly designed question, too. It’s both a math problem and a multiple-choice English problem, but a kid could solve it correctly just by knowing Angelou’s biography and have no idea about the math at all.
The school district responded with a statement saying, “The homework worksheet in question was downloaded from a website that allows teachers around the world to share educational resources. It is not part of our approved curriculum. We apologize to anyone who was offended by the content of the assignment and have taken steps to avoid such occurrences in the future.”
As is the case with the Utah “$5 Date” assignment, this one was reportedly not written by the teacher who handed it out. The teacher reportedly downloaded it from a database of educational resources for teachers, which lets teachers download tests, homework assignments, and classroom materials for use in their own classes. A database like that is just how the Utah date assignment wound up in front of kids, too. Tools that let teachers share materials are great, and a vital resource to professional educators. They do not, however, change the fact that the teacher is the one selecting materials and deciding whether or not to put them in front of students. These databases are extremely useful and valuable, but there does not appear to be a ton of oversight or quality-control over the available materials, and it would certainly behoove teachers using them to think as critically about the assignments they’re downloading as they would about the assignments they’re writing themselves.