Let us first, gentle readers, make sure we understand the definitions:
Mathematics, noun: racist
Academic rigor, noun: racist
Equity, noun: making sure leftist principles/activists/narratives always prevail
Inequity, noun: when leftist principles/activists/narratives don’t always prevail, which is, of course, racist
Color-blind, adjective: racist
Academic success, noun: lowering standards as much as necessary to ensure favored victim groups appear to succeed
Grading, verb: see “Academic success”
Mastery, noun: see “Academic success”
Authentic, adjective; see “equity”
White supremacy, noun: a rare and seldom seen phenomena, but always whatever D/S/Cs say it is
Racist, adjective: everything and everyone
As regular readers know, I’ve been writing about the push to declare math—actually, pretty much everything, racist for years now. To see those previous articles, merely enter “math” in the SMM homepage search bar.
Declaring everything and everyone racist takes work, but no actual intelligence. Racism, after all, is an attitude or system of belief, the product of electric current racing through the human brain. Apart from those neural impulses, racism does not, cannot, exist. The demand, in self-imagined elite circles, for racism far exceeds the supply, so they are, in increasing numbers, inventing it. Fortunately, most such inventions are eventually revealed as, well, inventions, but even as supply dwindles, demand continues to skyrocket.
Yet we are now confronted by the misfiring neurons of those who claim math is racist, science is racist, viruses are racist, a fictional female Indian on butter products is racist, Uncle Ben—a fictional black fellow on rice packages–is racist, even highways and bridges are racist. I’m tempted to check my underwear drawer for racism, but hesitate in fear of what I might find and what I might have to do to expunge it.
It’s all nonsense, but particularly damaging and destructive nonsense aimed at political advantage, damn the blood, intellectual and property damage. Numbers cannot be racist. The number “3” has no more capability to be racist than the letter “p.” But here we go again:
California is set to adopt new math teaching principles that are based in critical race theory. These changes, which include deemphasizing calculus and pulling programs for academically gifted students, will ‘apply social justice principles to math lessons.’
These guidelines do not instruct educators to teach critical race theory, but rather use critical race theory as a guide for the formation of teaching principles. Critical race theory is not being taught to students, but taught to teachers, who are then meant to use it to formulate their own practices.
This is what is known as a distinction without a difference.
The goal of the new math framework is ‘to maintain rigor while also helping remedy California’s achievement gaps’ for black, Latino, and poor students. the reason for the changes is that California students are falling behind in math.
And how do we “remedy California’s achievement gaps’? By employing all the usual “social justice principles,” which include: eliminating gifted and talented classes, dumbing down the curriculum in general, badly warping or entirely eliminating grading, eliminating homework and individual work, and of course, eliminating any requirement students demonstrate knowledge and learning by proving they can achieve correct answers.
‘We were transforming math education, and change is hard and scary,’ Rebecca Pariso, a math teacher at Hueneme Elementary School District told the San Francisco Standard. ‘Especially if you don’t understand why that change needs to occur. But I didn’t expect it to go this far.’ The inspiration for these new guidelines came from San Francisco educational standards.
Notice there is no explanation of what Pariso didn’t expect to “go this far.” Actually, math is hard. The kind of “change” these nitwits are enacting is aimed at eliminating any and everything that is hard: academic effort and learning.
In the new guidelines, which will up for consideration prior to their potential adoption in July, reading in Chapter 2, “Teaching for Equity and Engagement,” reads that “Cultural relevance is important for learning and also for expanding a collective sense of what mathematical communities look and sound like to reflect California’s diverse history.”
It goes on to slam mathematics for, ‘over the years,’ having ‘developed in a way that has excluded many students.’
Being born without the math gene, I was likely “excluded,” though through hard work and academic ability in general, I somehow managed to ace my college math requirements. I did not think them racist, just difficult and demanding. I actually had to do work to get the grade I wanted. I actually had to get the correct answers. The horror.
Pariso said ‘There’s a huge problem with math instruction right now. The way things are set up, it’s not giving everybody a chance to learn math at the highest levels.’
‘Because of these inequities, teachers need to work consciously to counter racialized or gendered ideas about mathematics achievement,’ they write.
As regards the claim that ‘avoiding aspects of race, culture, gender, or other characteristics as they teach mathematics’ is actually equitable, the guidelines state that ‘the evolution of mathematics in educational settings has resulted in dramatic inequities for students of color, girls, and students from low income homes.’
Hmmm. I can certainly see how eliminating the idea there is such a thing as a correct answer in math might go a long way to fix those inequities. Of course, it would also “fix” having to learn anything…
In part, the reason they believe that it is inequitable is because the instruction heretofore received by those students doesn’t ‘appropriately leverage students’ diverse knowledge bases, identities, and experiences for both learning and developing a sense of belonging to mathematics.
Uh, isn’t the study of any academic discipline supposed to inspire students to learn new things? If not, I did it wrong for an entire teaching career. If they came to class with all those knowledge bases and stuff, what’s left to learn? Oh, and one doesn’t belong to math any more than one belongs to poetry. One does the work necessary to understand and apply both, or one never understands.
The ‘color-blind’ approach, they write, ‘allows such systemic inequities to continue.’ As such, the guidance as to how to teach for ‘equity and engagement’ includes examples ‘to help educators utilize and value students’ identities, assets, and cultural resources to support learning and ensure access to high achievement for all students in California—particularly English learners, who are linguistically and culturally diverse, and those who have been disenfranchised by systemic inequities.’
Oh, I get it! If 2 + 4 doesn’t equal four, or if the answer is irrelevant, then all the woke nonsense applies. By all means, take the link and read the whole thing, but if we wish, in a nutshell, to see how insane these people are, this might help:
In a glossary of primarily mathematical terms, the new guidelines define Equity as ‘fairness in education rather than sameness.’ They write that ‘equity includes four dimensions in mathematics education: (1) Access to tangible resources; (2) Participation in quality mathematics classes and success in them; (3) Student identity development in mathematics; and (4) Attention to relations of power.’
But what about demonstrated mastery: actual learning and the ability to independently apply it in the real world?
The new guidelines also suggest that grading is not an appropriate way to judge math proficiency. ‘Mastery based grading,’ they write, ‘describes a form of grading that focuses on mastery of ideas, rather than points or scores. It communicates the mathematics students are learning, and students receive feedback on the mathematics they have learned or are learning, rather than a score. This helps students view their learning as a process that they can improve on over time, rather than a score or a grade that they often perceive as a measure of their worth.’
Of course! Kids just have to demonstrate they have “ideas.” There’s no need to demonstrate those ideas have any practical use or that one actually learned anything other than white people are racist. Fortunately, not every California academic is clinically insane and/or evil:
There has been pushback against the new guidelines, most notably from STEM professionals. A UC Irvine mathematics professor, Svetlana Jitomirskaya, said that the guidelines authors neglected to consult STEM experts who have a better understanding of the progression of math education and how concepts build upon previous lessons.
‘The process should have definitely involved STEM faculty from top CA universities with direct knowledge of what is needed for success as STEM majors,’ she told the San Francisco Standard, ‘It is absurd this was not done.’
Others, the Standard reports, ‘say the framework would hurt historically marginalized students the most by injecting too many social justice related topics that distract from the math.’
What?! You mean math teachers should actually use scarce class time to teach math instead of racist propaganda? Not in California, where they’re far too advanced for such outmoded concepts.
Parents in California are also not on board. Avery Wang of Palo Alto questioned the plan, saying ‘Holding back high achievers makes them achieve more? That’s exactly the same philosophy that’s being promoted in the math framework.’
But of course! Letting high achievers achieve highly is inequitable! See the definitions.
As to making math ‘relatable,’ parent Michael Malione of Piedmont City said that ‘They’re changing math to make it math appreciation. A part of math is learning things that are not authentic to life.’
This doesn’t benefit marginalized students, they argue, instead it teaches them something that is not math. If the goal is to help students achieve in math, it is questionable to believe that implementing a curriculum that contains less math, and instead discusses more reasons that it is hard to succeed in math, would actually give students more access to achievement.
Analysis: Actually, there’s not much to analyze. As regular readers also know, I have, for many years, decried the ever-dwindling time in class, and the ever-increasing encroachments on class time. Time is a teacher’s most precious resource, and one that, with the advent of critical race theory, social justice philosophy, or whatever term one wants to apply to racist, Marxist philosophy and propaganda, is increasingly made irrelevant.
Learning any academic discipline is hard work. Good teachers can help make it interesting, even fun, but it is always and everywhere, hard work. Good teachers also know not every student will have an affinity for a given discipline. Math is more easily understood by some people, yet we demand all work with it, not just because it’s practical knowledge necessary for daily life, but because the study of every discipline builds neural connections in the brain at the deepest levels. Studying math builds bigger, better brains in ways that studying English cannot. Studying English builds bigger, better brains in ways that studying music cannot, but all are intertwined.
That’s the intellectual danger of wasting class time on propaganda rather than subject matter. Knowledge of any discipline is acquired over time and in age-appropriate ways, each lesson building on all previous lessons, on all the neural connections they make. If kids are denied consistent, professional, age appropriate instruction, if propaganda is substituted, they will be forever intellectually stunted, unable to understand how badly they’ve been cheated and damaged, and unable to catch up, even if they somehow come to see the need, which denied the intellectual development they need, is unlikely.
Learning is not mere data storage and retrieval. It’s building the intellectual capacity to learn more and more difficult material, and to flexibly apply it in the real world. Propaganda, of any kind, necessarily interferes. Regardless of the reality propaganda is generally harmful, even evil, it displaces precious time necessary for learning. As Benjamin Franklin said:
Do not squander time, for that’s what life is made of.
The societal danger of failing to properly educate every student to the highest levels they can achieve, of demanding a minimal level of achievement regardless of race or other considerations, is seen in the burned out businesses of our Blue cities and states, and in the uniformly red blood running in their gutters.
On a professional note, what’s also happening here is laziness. Because we have to choose teachers exclusively from the human race, some teachers are inevitably going to be lazy, inept, even incompetent. They’re going to avoid teaching math, because math is hard, because they’re not good at it. And because they know they’re not good at it, they know many of their students are going to be much better at math than they—they’re going to recognize the failings of their teachers–and that scares them. That, gentle readers, is why they want to do away with higher level and gifted and talented math classes; they’re intimidated by intelligence and their lack of it.
Our schools of education are clearly turning out such incompetents in greater numbers than ever, and that incompetence is made even worse by their relentless indoctrination, from Kindergarten through college, in racist, Marxist propaganda. Those advocating for this kind of child abuse are not teachers, and certainly not teachers of mathematics. They are, however, certainly evil.
UPDATE, 12-06-21, 2015 MT: fortunately, California’s insanity is provoking a potentially powerful backlash. Leslie Eastman at Legal Insurrection reports:
With all of this in mind, it is understandable that many STEM professionals are very concerned about recent educational trends that are focused more on social justice than hard science or even basic math skills. Theoretical computer scientists Boaz Barak of Harvard and Edith Cohen of Google, and other leading quantitative scientists, have prepared an open letter sounding the alarm over the gutting of US math education in K-12.
The group explicitly cites the California Mathematics Framework (CMF) and boasts over 500 signatories.
‘…We are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of recent well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education, particularly the California Mathematics Framework (CMF). Such frameworks aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers. While such reforms superficially seem “successful” at reducing disparities at the high school level, they are merely “kicking the can” to college. While it is possible to succeed in STEM at college without taking advanced courses in high school, it is more challenging. College students who need to spend their early years taking introductory math courses may require more time to graduate. They may need to give up other opportunities and are more likely to struggle academically. Such a reform would disadvantage K-12 public school students in the United States compared with their international and private-school peers. It may lead to a de facto privatization of advanced mathematics K-12 education and disproportionately harm students with fewer resources.’
Take the link and read the whole thing.