Fourth grader hits back at school for assigning 'offensive' math problem: 'I don’t think that was really okay'

A fourth grader was so offended by a math problem in her homework that she decided to answer it by bringing attention to a much bigger issue, KSTU reports.  

Rhythm Pacheco, a 9-year-old student in the Murray City School District in Utah, was working on an assignment as part of her Common Core math curriculum when she came across the question. 

"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's mother Naomi told the station. 

Naomi said her daughter told her that she wouldn't answer it because it appeared to encourage body-shaming. 

"I thought it was offensive," Rhythm said. "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."

Instead of trying to solve the problem, the 8-year-old instead decided to use it as an opportunity to educate her teacher. 

"She circled [the question] and wrote, 'What! This is offensive! Sorry I won't write this it's rude,'" Naomi said. 

Rhythm said she was worried that she would get in trouble for the response, so she wrote a follow-up note to her teacher detailing why she didn't want to answer the question. 

"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," her letter read. "Also, the reason I didn’t write a sentence is because I just didn’t think that was nice."

Fortunately, the teacher was receptive and supported the fourth grader's decision, Naomi said. 

"This isn’t about the teacher, the school, or anything — we love our school and our community," the mother said. 

Both the school district and the company that provided Rhythm's school with the math curriculum — Eureka Math — have since defended the assignment. 

"I can certainly see if a 4th-grade student did misconstrue that question," said Melissa Hamilton, the Murray City School District Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning. "However, in math curriculum, [it] wasn’t about body image — the question was about moving kilograms to pounds."

A representative for Eureka agreed. 

"There is no value judgment in the question about weight, it’s merely a comparison," Eureka Math’s Director of Marketing Communications Chad Colby told KSTU. "It sounds like the parent is putting the value judgment on it, not the question."

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