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Los progresistas de California declaran la guerra a las matemáticas

California Progressives Declare War on Mathematics

Golden State education officials seek to approve an academic curriculum called “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Desmantling racism in Mathmatics Instruction” to be used as guideline

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The possible next Golden State mathematics academic plan is raising deep concerns, as California progressives appear to declare war on mathematics.

The California Education Quality Commission is evaluating a proposed curriculum framework that would govern math classes in the state’s public schools. The proposal recommends teachers use the controversial “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.”

A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction is an integrated approach to mathematics that centers Black, Latinx, and Multilingual students in grades 6-8, addresses barriers to math equity, and aligns instruction to grade-level priority standards,” reads the program.

“The Pathway offers guidance and resources for educators to use now as they plan their curriculum, while also offering opportunities for ongoing self-reflection as they seek to develop an anti-racist math practice. The toolkit “strides” serve as multiple on-ramps for educators as they navigate the individual and collective journey from equity to anti-racism.”

The program is funded in part by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that seeks to combat “institutional racism” in math classrooms.

An 82-page Pathway paper reads that the goal of this program is not only to “dismantle racism in mathematics education,” but also to engage “socio-political spin in all aspects of education, including mathematics.”

pathway
A 120-sided die at the Joint Mathematics Meetings organized in the United States (Image: EFE)

The scheme is criticized by academics and mathematics teachers because it refutes the objective essence of mathematics, reduces school meritocracy and does not seek to solve the learning problems that some students have for the corresponding academic area.

Criticism unheard by California progressives

Sergiu Klainerman, a math professor at Princeton, wrote an op-ed published on writer Bari Weiss’ Substack platform called “Common Sense with Bari Weiss.”

“Attempts to ‘deconstruct’ mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school.”

Sergiu Klainerman

The professor criticized the American woke movement and progressives for attempting to frame science as forms of white hegemony: “woke” ideology, on the other hand, treats both science and mathematics as social constructs and condemns the way they are practiced, in research and teaching, as manifestations of white supremacy, Euro-centrism, and post-Colonialism.”

After it became known that the new academic proposal in California includes the program funded by Bill Gates’ foundation, Williamson M. Evers, director of the Independent Institute’s Center for Educational Excellence and formerly U.S. undersecretary of education, wrote a hard-hitting article in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Evers explains that California officials may cause “generations of students may not know how to calculate an apartment’s square footage or the area of a farm field.”

He further says that the academic plan is a form of teaching propaganda rather than mathematics, as it is largely based on ideological-social concerns, rather than seeking academic excellence.

The former undersecretary is most concerned about the implementation of the Pathway program.

“This manual claims that teachers addressing students’ mistakes forthrightly is a form of white supremacy. It sets forth indicators of ‘white supremacy’ culture in the mathematics classroom, including a focus on getting the right answer, teaching math in a linear fashion, requiring students to ‘show their work’ and grading them on demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter.”

Concerns about the academic plan are not only about inducing teachers to present mathematics as a non-objective science, but also about undermining academic excellence, harming all California students.

california
Students compete in the American school soroban contest in Tokyo. (Image: EFE)

Evers similarly points out that the framework is rejecting the goal of having students take Algebra I in eighth grade, a course that has performed well with students of that age over the past two decades.

Moreover, the main beneficiaries of taking Algebra I in eighth grade were, rightly, ethnic minority and lower-income children.

“California Department of Education data show that while only 16% of students took algebra by eighth grade in 1999, by 2013, 67%—four times as many—were doing so. Success rates, meaning the percentage of students scoring “proficient” or above, kept rising even as enrollment increased dramatically.”

Ever’s article

Finally, the article explains that “Students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan master introductory algebra in eighth grade or even earlier,” so young Californians in public schools would be falling behind, not to mention that many of the Golden State’s policies are often exported to the rest of the country.

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