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California educators, others, moving to rid mathematics of ‘white supremacy culture’

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California educators are the latest to push for so-called “equity” in mathematics through the adoption of a curriculum that allegedly seeks to rid those courses of “white supremacy culture,” as the subject got renewed attention this week.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal in May, Williamson M. Evers noted that educators in the Golden State are looking to transform the precise formulations of mathematics into some sort of process that creates an equal outcome regardless of skin color, allegedly because math is a product of “white supremacy culture.”

“If California education officials have their way, generations of students may not know how to calculate an apartment’s square footage or the area of a farm field, but the ‘mathematics’ of political agitation and organizing will be second nature to them. Encouraging those gifted in math to shine will be a distant memory,” he wrote.

“This will be the result if a proposed mathematics curriculum framework, which would guide K-12 instruction in the Golden State’s public schools, is approved by California’s Instructional Quality Commission in meetings this week and in August and ratified by the state board of education later this year,” Evers continued, noting that the initiative has a specific racial component.

“The framework recommends eight times that teachers use a troubling document, ‘A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction,'” he added. “This manual claims that teachers addressing students’ mistakes forthrightly is a form of white supremacy.”

Officially, whites are a minority in California; the Latino population surpassed the white population in the state in 2015.

Social media users reacted anew this week to the May report.

“How dare we focus on ‘getting the right answer,'” noted one Twitter user.

“Imagine thinking getting an answer correct was a ‘white thing,'” said another. “God Almighty save us.”

“Can’t wait to fly around in a plane built by kids who got an A in math because they had the woke answer and not the right answer,” another user noted mockingly.

“Truly remarkable. Even exact ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers are racist. What ISN’T racist to people?” wrote another.

Still another user ridiculed: “1+1 = racism.”

The renewed attention on California’s initiative comes as educators in other blue states and cities have also moved to completely rewrite math fundamentals in the name of righting past racial wrongs.

In April, Virginia’s Loudoun County School District moved to eliminate all advanced math classes before the 11th grade, again due to alleged racial inequities.

School board member Ian Serotkin took to Facebook to post about the changes, which he said he learned about from an organization called the Virginia Mathematics Pathway Initiative (VMPI).

“[A]s currently planned, this initiative will eliminate ALL math acceleration prior to 11th grade,” he wrote at the time. “That is not an exaggeration, nor does there appear to be any discretion in how local districts implement this. All 6th graders will take Foundational Concepts 6.

“All 7th graders will take Foundational Concepts 7. All 10th graders will take Essential Concepts 10. Only in 11th and 12th grade is there any opportunity for choice in higher math courses,” he added.

School Board Vice-Chair Atoosa Reeser also expressed concerns shared by Serotkin:  “The ability to accelerate math at the schools in the Algonkian district has been a well-appreciated option for many students.”

In February, alarm bells went off after some schools in Oregon were being told that asking students to “show their work” as they calculated the correct answer to math problems was a form of “white supremacy.” One since-deleted tweet pointed to a document posted online titled, “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.”

In 2019, a document posted to the Seattle Public Schools website titled “K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework” examined questions such as, “What does it mean to do math?” and, “How is math manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?”

Jon Dougherty

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