Nearly 600 scientists, mathematicians rip California’s math curriculum plans

Bryan Babb, DCNF

Nearly 600 scientists and mathematicians have signed a letter conveying “deep concern” over California’s recent steps to reform its mathematics curriculum for K-12 students that are purportedly designed to close gaps in pupil achievement.

“We are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of recent well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education, particularly the California Mathematics Framework (CMF),” the letter read. It criticized the “one size fits all” approach the CMF takes to K-12 mathematics education, arguing that the reforms would make it more difficult for students to succeed in college STEM classes.

The California Department of Education’s (CDE) reforms to the mathematic framework would include “supporting equitable and engaging mathematics instruction.” The new reforms would do this in-part by opening the door for advanced data science and statistics courses available to all students, rather than those “selected as mathematically oriented in younger grades.”

The reforms also advise teachers to “teach towards social justice,” arguing that teaching mathematics as a “neutral discipline” has “occluded possibilities for students to develop more personal and powerful relationships to mathematics.”

The authors of the letter point out that the reforms may leave public school students disadvantaged when compared to students in private schools as well as students internationally.

The State Board of Education (SBE) decided at a Nov. 3  meeting to postpone the implementation of the new mathematics framework until May 2022, according to the revision timeline.

As of Dec. 5, 597 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals have signed the letter.

Jo Boaler, an education professor at Stanford University and author who is working on the California guidelines, told The New York Times in November that “People will really go to battle for math to stay the same.”

The letter also notes a “deeply worrisome trend” in valuing “data science” over other mathematical subjects, such as calculus and algebra.

The CDE did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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