The California education department is considering implementing a statewide math framework that promotes the concept that working to figure out a correct answer in math is an example of racism and white supremacy invading the classroom.
The framework, titled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction,” is intended to be “exercises for educators to reflect on their own biases to transform their instructional practice.”
The “Equitable Math” website states its training manual was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary private source of funding for the Common Core State Standards.
“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the document states. “Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”
The proposed California framework provides examples of how “white supremacy culture” has infiltrated math classes in schools:
The focus is on getting the “right” answer.
Independent practice is valued over teamwork or collaboration.
“Real-world math” is valued over math in the real world.
Students are tracked (into courses/pathways and within the classroom).
Participation structures reinforce dominant ways of being.
Additionally, the document asserts the means by which teachers assess student learning in math is based on white supremacy culture, as demonstrated by:
Students are required to “show their work.”
Grading practices are focused on lack of knowledge.
Language acquisition is equated with mathematical proficiency.
The proposed California framework continues:
These common practices that perpetuate white supremacy culture create and sustain institutional and systemic barriers to equity for Black, Latinx, and Multilingual students. In order to dismantle these barriers, we must identify what it means to be an antiracist math educator.
In order to embody antiracist math education, teachers must engage in critical praxis that interrogates the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy culture in their own classrooms, and develop a plan toward antiracist math education to address issues of equity for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students.
In the section that criticizes the concept of “getting the ‘right’ answer” in math, the document states:
The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so. Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity [sic] as well as fear of open conflict [sic].
Some in the education field are sounding the alarm about the “Equitable Math” framework.
According to Fox News, Lori Meyers, co-founder of Educators for Quality and Equality, said her organization sent a letter to California education officials, expressing its members are “deeply concerned about the draft 2021 CA Mathematics Framework, which contains discriminatory and divisive content that will impede us from accomplishing” important goals in math instruction.
“We ask that the state provide us with a mathematics framework that reflects sound, research-based practices over political ideology,” Meyers’ group added.
In February, the Oregon Department of Education defended its instruction of teachers via the “Equitable Math” training manual in how to teach mathematics by dismantling as “racist” the longstanding view of objectivity in math, as exemplified by the idea that one must obtain a correct answer to a math problem.
Breitbart News reported on the same “Equitable Math” manual:
The manual enumerates signs of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom,” which include a focus on “getting the right answer,” an emphasis on “real-world math,” teaching math in a “linear fashion,” students being required to “show their work,” and grading students based on their demonstrated knowledge of the material.
“In order to embody antiracist math education, teachers must engage in critical praxis that interrogates the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy culture in their own classrooms,” the manual declares, “and develop a plan toward antiracist math education to address issues of equity for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students.”