Homework questions on race, drugs and guns draw ire from parents

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A Brooklyn student's homework assignment featuring questions and answers referring to race, drugs and guns is drawing ire from some parents.

Allan Toliver, 10, became bothered while doing his homework on Tuesday, so he showed the reading assignment to his parents. He attends Achievement First Charter School in Brownsville.

The book in question is "Seedfolks," first published in 1997 and written by Paul Fleischman.

A question that's caused concern says: "What does Ana think Kim is doing in the garden?" Answer C for the multiple choice response is "Hiding drugs, money or a gun."

The text from "Seedfolks" says, "...And after twenty years of typing for the parole department, I just about knew what she buried. Drugs most likely, or money, or a gun."

One parent asks why the book couldn't have used something more child-friendly, like hiding a toy or comic book.

Another question from the book: "Why does Ana call Wendell to help?" Answers include: "They are cousins;" "Wendell is a janitor and can clean up her mess;" and "They are the only white people left."

The text for that question says, "...I live on the ground floor and watch out for her a little. We're the only white people left in the building."

A spokesperson for the school said in a statement, "The AF Brownsville Middle homework assignment drew directly from the text of Seedfolks - a widely acclaimed novel written by Newbery Medal winning author Paul Fleischman - that focuses on a diverse cast of characters, discusses racial themes, and uses the assumptions of some characters to teach powerful messages about bias and tolerance."

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