Weighty problem: Utah 4th-grader refuses to answer math question about how much girls weigh

The mother of a Utah fourth-grader said she shocked by a weighty math problem included in her daughter's homework assignment.

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Naomi Pacheco said her 9-year-old daughter, Rhythm, refused to answer a math question that compared the weights of three fourth grade girls, KSTU reported.

"I thought it was offensive,” Rhythm, who attends Grant Elementary School in Murray, told the television station. “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 OK.”

“I was shocked… I was shocked, honestly,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco told KSTU the math problem reads, "The table to the right shows the weight of three Grade 4 students. How much heavier is Isabell than the lightest student?"

“I feel like it’s such an irresponsible way to teach children how to do math,” Pacheco told the television station.

Pacheco said her daughter decided not to answer the question and circled it.

"She wrote, 'What! This is offensive! Sorry I won't write this it's rude!''" Pacheco told KSTU.

The math problem is part of a Common Core math curriculum, provided to Murray City School District by Eureka Math, the television station reported.

"They're trying to make questions relevant to a fourth-grader's life and lifestyle and things that they encounter," Melissa Hamilton, the Murray City School District director of elementary teaching and learning, told KSTU. "The problems right before that talked about watermelons, and then the problem before that, a Saint Bernard.

“I can certainly see if a fourth-grade student did misconstrue that question. However, in math curriculum, (it) wasn’t about body image -- the question was about moving kilograms to pounds."

This is the first year the school district has used Eureka Math. Officials at the company told KSTU they had never received a complaint about any of their questions.

“There is no value judgment in the question about weight, it’s merely a comparison," Chad Colby, Eureka Math’s director of marketing communications, told the television station in a telephone conversation. "It sounds like the parent is putting the value judgment on it, not the question."

Colby added he did not believe there was any reason to remove the question from the curriculum.

Rhythm and her mother disagree.

"I didn't really think that would be on homework, I thought that would be fruits or vegetables or things like that," Rhythm told KSTU.

“I think we have other resources and other ways of teaching our children math and how to weigh proportions, objects, people, without direct comparisons -- especially comparing little girls,” Pacheco told the television station.“The fact that they (Eureka Math) are asking questions like this irresponsible."

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