The California Board of Education will not implement its newly proposed mathematics curriculum after critics argued its racial equality components would “de-mathematize math.”
“California is on the verge of politicizing K-12 math in a potentially disastrous way. This postponement means the State Board of Education has heard the message loud and clear. STEM leaders don’t want California students left behind by introducing politics into the math curriculum,” said Dr. Williamson M. Evers, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, in a statement following an open letter he pinned to California’s education and political leaders.
The framework for the controversial curriculum reportedly argues that "mathematics, over the years, has developed in a way that has excluded many students." The different capacities of students have also been set back by several social or political factors.
As a result, the framework argues educators “need to work consciously to counter racialized or gendered ideas about mathematics achievement."
"All students deserve powerful mathematics; we reject ideas of natural gifts and talents," reads another component of the framework arguing for the end of advanced placement courses. "The belief that 'I treat everyone the same' is insufficient: Active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities."
The letter goes on to argue that attention to non-math-related ideals — such as "environmental and social justice," "sociopolitical consciousness," and "problems that result in social inequalities" — would shift instruction away from the actual subject of the course.
“This proposed framework will discourage districts from having advanced classes for gifted students. It’s going to block the rise of talented kids to important roles in society, serving us as engineers, getting rockets in the air, and getting bridges built properly,” Evers argued in the letter.
He added: "For all the rhetoric in this framework about equity, social justice, environmental care, and culturally appropriate pedagogy, there is no realistic hope for a more fair, just, equal and well-stewarded society if our schools uproot long-proven, reliable, and highly effective math methods and instead try to build a mathless Brave New World on a foundation of unsound ideology.”
One of the 467 signees of the letter (as of July 13), who categorized themselves as a “social justice warrior,” similarly argued, "Limiting access to advanced mathematics is not the way to address social inequity.”
The Instructional Quality Commission, which provides revisions of the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, met on May 19-20 after reviewing public comments from the first 60-day public comment period. The IQC approved some recommended edits to the draft and will do so again before the curriculum is finalized.
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Original Author: Lawrence Richard