This article was originally published by Kerry McDonald at The Foundation for Economic Education.
Mandatory teaching standards that focus on critical theory and identity politics to the detriment of liberalism and individualism are already working their way through state legislatures.
Now, math education itself has been deemed “racist.” A group of educators just released a document calling for a transformation of math education that focuses on “dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by visibilizing the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”
Among the educators’ recommendations, which officials in some states are promoting, are calls to “identify and challenge the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views,” “provide learning opportunities that use math as resistance,” and “encourage them to disrupt the disproportionate push-out of people of color in [STEM] fields.”
Beyond activism, these recommendations also argue that traditional approaches to math education promote racism and white supremacy, such as requiring students to show their work or prioritizing correct answers to math problems. The document claims that current math teaching is problematic because it focuses on “reinforcing objectivity and the idea that there is only one right way” while it “also reinforces paternalism.”
Prominent Professors Push Back
This week, some prominent university professors spoke out against these new woke math education recommendations. Princeton mathematics professor Sergiu Klainerman wrote a guest post on the topic on journalist Bari Weiss’s website. He says: “Attempts to ‘deconstruct’ mathematics, deny its objectivity, accuse it of racial bias, and infuse it with political ideology have become more and more common — perhaps, even, at your child’s elementary school.”
Klainerman, who grew up in communist Romania, warns that this current classroom dogma is dangerous. He writes: “When it comes to education, I believe the woke ideology is even more harmful than old-fashioned communism.”
Columbia University English professor John McWhorter also chimed in against this math education document and its recommendations.
“This lovely pamphlet is teaching us that it is racist to expect black kids to master the precision of math,” he writes in a blog post. “To wit – its message, penned by people who consider themselves some of the most morally advanced souls in the history of the human species, is one that Strom Thurmond would have happily taken a swig of whiskey to.”
“This, folks, is the ‘Critical Race Theory’ that so many of us are resisting, not a simple program for ‘social justice,’” McWhorter later adds. “To distrust this document is not to be against social justice, but against racism.”
While the growing emphasis on critical theory in American classrooms has broader societal implications, including the devaluation of objectivity and individualism, the real victims of this educational approach are the students themselves. In one of his final articles, before he died last December, economist Walter Williams decried the poor academic performance of students in large urban school districts.
“In two city high schools,” Williams wrote of Detroit, “only one student tested proficient in math and none are proficient in English. Yet, the schools spent a full week learning about ‘systemic racism’ and ‘Black Lives Matter activism.’”
Public School Exodus
As this “woke” worldview continues to penetrate classrooms with mandatory curriculum standards, families who don’t agree with this ideology—or who simply want their children to learn basic academics—should have the opportunity to pursue alternatives to their assigned district school. Currently, 26 states have active school choice legislation that would enable funding to follow students, including adopting education savings accounts or tax-credit scholarship programs. Meanwhile, overall support for school choice policies has grown since last spring.
The COVID-19 school shutdowns have put parents back in charge of their children’s learning in ways that were unimaginable pre-pandemic, with many parents leaving their district schools in droves. Indeed, the Associated Press reported a sharp decline in public school enrollment this academic year across the 33 states for which data were available. Millions of families have pursued private education options such as independent schooling and homeschooling that can offer more consistent, higher-quality in-person instruction than a district’s Zoom schooling or hybrid offerings.
As the New York Times reported on Monday, fewer than half of K-12 students are currently attending full-time, in-person schooling and families are increasingly seeking other options.
“Now many parents are beginning to rebel, frustrated with the pace of reopening and determined to take matters into their own hands,” the Times reports. “Some are making contingency plans to relocate, home-school or retreat to private education if their children’s routines continue to be disrupted this fall — a real possibility as some local school officials and teachers’ unions argue for aggressive virus mitigation measures to continue, potentially even after educators are vaccinated.”
The amplification of “woke” ideology in classrooms is likely to accelerate the current exodus from district schools. Parents have experienced a renewed sense of responsibility for their children’s education. Now they in many cases have had a front-row seat to what their children are actually learning through Zoom school, and hopefully will feel more empowered to push back against new critical theory curriculum standards—and choose an education that values individualism over collectivism.
“prioritizing correct answers to math problems” Yeah,we wouldn’t want students to get the right answer or show the work that got them to the answer.Of course,that would be wrong/racist. Is it any wonder that too many kids graduate and don’t know shit when they do.Just pass everyone even if they are complete morons because you don’t want to be labeled racist?
Honestly I find the entire idea offensive.It’s almost like they’re saying if you can’t do well in math -you can blame the teacher or the work as being racist.Anyone can do good or bad in math regardless of race.Frankly, the very idea of calling math racist because I couldn’t hack it would be ridiculous.
Contrary to what they are trying to make us believe,not everything in our lives is dictated by our skin color.
Well stated Bits. WOKE and MORON (too lazy to do the homework) are synonymous. In the leftists’ bastardization of the English language words are redefined in an effort to confuse the intent of these subversives.
Between my wife and me, we cover just about every ethnicity in our ancestry. We did NOT seek to be super-CITIZENS (hate crime eligible) nor did we seek preference in hiring. Earning your achievement (like Clarence Thomas, D’nesh Dzouza, Ben Shapiro, et al) is far more preferable.
Math racist? I knew it!!!
Numbers don’t add up!?
“math is used to uphold capitalist,imperialist, and racist views” and here I was thinking that math was just the class with all the numbers that I always hated.
Many science disciplines require math skills to accomplish the work. Vector stresses (within the area of PHYSICS we refer to as Mechanics) on rigging gear & structures were required in my area of expertise to select the correct rigging gear. My wife’s doctorate in chemistry required tremendous math skills. Any statistical analysis requires math skills. And on & on. Don’t listen to the snowflakes – they are lazy thinkers.
Subtracting love from the equation while adding in much division as you multiply the numbers of the sum total of the percentage of those wrongly targeted proves math is racist in the final product?
The teachers think objective math is okay when the taxpayer put their paycheck in their account. Maybe we should change that. Non-objective math tells me with a salary of $15,000 a month for a teacher, after taxes their net pay should be about 50 cents.
Epistemic adequacy (in others words, to retrace one’s steps, logically) was called one of the Master’s tools, which can not be used to dismantle the Master’s house.
Except, you are subsidized by a property tax.
From the church nursery, I was told, every year of my life, that you would mature.
Now, as a recovering libertarian, I refuse to say that literacy at public expense is a universal right.
“And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”
In practice, square one, or the very first point of orientation, of this house, is patriarchy.
No such thing exists, in any formal, “conservative” venue.
But, Audre will say it, if you men won’t.