A math assignment that required students to figure out how many Africans, Americans and Indians to bake in ovens for Thanksgiving was a recipe for termination for a third-grade teacher in Washington, D.C.
The unnamed teacher was fired from the Trinidad Center City School in Northeast Washington last Thursday, just one day after she was outed by outraged parents for assigning a set of violence-laced math problems to her students.
Local TV news station WUSA-9 was the first to report on the problems which featured situations involving kidnapping, deaths, and killings, including one that was said by a parent to invoke the Holocaust. That question asked students to figure out "How many desperate people were in each oven?" referring to Africans, Americans and Indians.
"I was absolutely distressed," Dr. Beverley Wheeler, CEO of the Center City Public Charter School System, which oversees Trinidad, told WUSA-9.
"We are about character, excellence and service and I found them to be violent and racist," she said.
The mandatory 20 homework problems included instances such as, "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 problem asked students, "My 3 friends and I were caught and tied up by 1023 screaming cannibals in a jungle last night. Soon we were feeling terribly itchy because of the mosquitoes. We begged the cannibals to scratch us. 219 cannibals refused because they were busy cutting vegetables. The rest of them, however, surrounded us in equal numbers and began to scratch us with their teeth, just like dogs. It felt good! How many cannibals scratched me?"
Wheeler, who described it as "incredibly bad judgment" for the teacher to use the problems as homework questions, said the teacher went off the approved curriculum and instead downloaded the math problems from the HomeschoolingParadise.com website.
Sources told the station that the teacher, said to be a minister, was told she had to use the problems.
"Not true," said Wheeler, while also adding that even if that was the case the teacher still showed poor decision-making.
"It doesn't follow anything we do," she said.