The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Alabama teacher disciplined for giving math test about guns, gangs, drugs and ‘ho’s’

It was not your typical multiple-choice test. (iStock)

An Alabama teacher has been suspended after requiring eighth-graders to take a math quiz that drew complaints from parents about inappropriate themes and racist overtones.

“Dwayne pimps 3 ho’s,” reads one question on the quiz given to students at Burns Middle School in Mobile, Ala. “If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each ho turn to support Dwayne’s $800 per day crack habit?”

Other questions refer to stolen cars, murder-for-hire, cocaine deals and drive-by shootings. “Tyrone knocked up four girls in the gang,” the quiz says. “There are 20 girls in the gang. What is the exact percentage of girls that Tyrone knocked up?”

Rena Philips, a spokeswoman for Mobile County Public School System, said a parent raised concerns about the assignment  Tuesday and the school immediately launched an investigation and placed the teacher on administrative leave. Philips declined to identify the teacher or offer more details, citing privacy concerns related to personnel matters.

“We regret that this happened, especially so close to the end of the school year,” Philips said. “We have 7,500 employees in Mobile County public schools, and the vast majority of them are doing phenomenal work in our classrooms.”

The quiz is an Internet meme that dates at least to the early 1990s and has been known as the “The L.A. Math Proficiency Test” or “The City of Los Angeles High School Math Proficiency Exam,” according to the website Snopes, which has compiled a brief history of the quiz making appearances in American (and Canadian) classrooms.

It’s not clear why the Mobile teacher decided to hand it out  Friday, just a few days before school let out.

Erica Hall told WALA-TV, Mobile’s Fox affiliate, that her son texted her a photograph of the 10-question quiz that his language arts teacher had handed out. She was outraged.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Hall told WALA. “She told them that it wasn’t a joke, and they had to complete it, and turn it in.”

Nearly 900 students are enrolled at Burns Middle School, about 50 percent of them black and 40 percent white, according to state data. Forty-three percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.