Manhattan Elementary School Asks Students To Subtract And Multiply Slaves
Two Manhattan teachers are in hot water over an offensive homework lesson that used killing and whipping slaves to teach subtraction and multiplication.
Public School 59 teacher Jane Youn, 32, sent the boneheaded questions home with her fourth-graders in January.
One question focused on a ship loaded with 3,799 slaves. “One day, the slaves took over the ship. 1,897 are dead. How many slaves are alive?” the question read.
Another word problem used the example of a slave who “got whipped five times a day,” then asked students to calculate the number of whippings he received in a month.
Education officials said that fourth-graders at the midtown school wrote the questions themselves after Youn told them to blend lessons they learned in social studies class with their math assignments. Youn gave them to students as homework.
A woman who answered the door at Youn’s upper East Side high-rise refused to comment. “I don’t want to participate,” she said.
A second PS 59 teacher, Jacqueline Vitucci, made copies of the questions and planned to give them to her students, but decided against it. A woman who answered Vitucci’s cell phone declined to comment to a Daily News reporter.
“Oh my God, it’s a reporter. Don’t say anything,” she said, before hanging up.
School statistics show the student body at the E. 56th St. school is 60% white — higher than the city average — while just 5% of students are African-American.
Parents at the well-off school were shocked by the flap. “I don’t think that’s reflective at all of what the school is about,” said one parent who asked not be named.
Principal Adele Schroeter said she was “appalled” by the incident and ordered sensitivity training for the entire staff.
Youn and Vitucci will face disciplinary action, said schools spokeswoman Connie Pankratz. She would not provide details or say whether the teachers will remain in their classrooms