WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A fourth-grader refused to answer an “offensive” math problem that seemed to encourage body-shaming by comparing students’ weights.
- Rhythm Pacheco, 9, wrote in a letter to her teacher, “I think that math problem wasn’t very nice, I thought that was judging people’s weight.”
- Both the school district and the math curriculum provider explained that the question “wasn’t about body image” — it was simply a math problem that involved weight.
Fourth-grader Rhythm Pacheco refused to answer an “offensive” math problem that seemed to encourage body-shaming by comparing students’ weights.
Rhythm, 9, is a student in the Murray City School District in Utah. She was working on her math homework when she came across the question, KSTU reported.
Rhythm’s mother, Naomi, told KSTU, “It says, ‘The table to the right shows the weight of three Grade 4 students. How much heavier is Isabell than the lightest student?’”
Rhythm said, “I thought it was offensive. I didn’t like that because girls shouldn’t be comparing each other. I know it was a math problem… but I don’t think that was really okay.”
Naomi said, “She circled [the question] and wrote, ‘What! This is offensive! Sorry I won’t write this it’s rude.’”
But Rhythm was worried about getting in trouble, so she wrote a follow-up explanatory note. She decided to use the opportunity to educate her teacher about the issue.
She wrote in her letter: “I don’t want to be rude, but I think that math problem wasn’t very nice, I thought that was judging people’s weight. Also, the reason I didn’t write a sentence is because I just didn’t think that was nice.”
According to Naomi, the teacher was receptive and supportive of Rhythm’s decision.
Naomi clarified that they bore no ill will against “the teacher, the school, or anything — we love our school and our community.”
The school district has since defended the assignment.
Melissa Hamilton, the Murray City School District Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning, explained, “I can certainly see if a 4th-grade student did misconstrue that question. However, in math curriculum, [it] wasn’t about body image — the question was about moving kilograms to pounds.”
A representative for Eureka Math, the company that provided Rhythm’s school with the math curriculum, made a similar statement.
Chad Colby, Eureka Math’s Director of Marketing Communications, told the station, “There is no value judgment in the question about weight, it’s merely a comparison. It sounds like the parent is putting the value judgment on it, not the question.”