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Math training that calls showing work ‘white supremacy culture’ may be added to Calif. curriculum framework

A training manual that argues “white supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms” when students are required to “show their work,” among many other controversial lessons, may be added to the official mathematics framework for California’s K-12 schools.

The curriculum frameworks provides guidance to teachers on how to implement the state’s content standards.

The mathematics framework is currently up for a revise and among its proposed changes is the addition of a “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction” resource that advises educators that a focus on getting the “right” answer is a “toxic characteristic” of math instruction.

It is included on California’s proposed “Teaching for Equity and Engagement” curriculum framework update.

The controversial resource, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made national headlines after it was distributed earlier this year to Oregon teachers.

One main section of “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction” is an 82-page section called “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.”

Its inclusion has prompted concern with at least one education watchdog group.

“The CA Mathematics Framework is the definitive guide for K-12 math teachers. At a time when our students are consistently scoring lower in math than the national average, it’s crucial that the State Board of Education provide resources with research-based best practices for improving outcomes, and reject resources that demean teachers and single out one race for blame,” stated the group Educators for Quality and Equality in a news release.

The “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction” section — the lengthiest of the five sections that make up the overall “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction”  — argues that “white supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms” when students are required to “show their work.”

“Math teachers ask students to show work so that teachers know what students are thinking, but that centers the teacher’s need to understand rather than student learning. It becomes a crutch for teachers seeking to understand what students are thinking and less of a tool for students in learning how to process,” the training manual states.

“Thus, requiring students to show their work reinforces worship of the written word as well as paternalism,” it adds.

Instead, teachers are instructed to offer different ways for students to show their math knowledge. Among them?

“Have students create TikTok videos, silent films, or cartoons about mathematical concepts or procedures,” the manual states.

Other ideas include asking students to show their math competency via pictures or symbols.

In another section of the “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” it gives educators suggestions on how to “build knowledge of antiracism in math.”

Among the advice, it advises teachers to read “‘Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations’ And Its Role in Maintaining White Supremacy through Mathematics Education.” It also suggests, among other readings, “Social Justice Mathematics and Science Curricular Resources for K-12 Teachers.”

Educators for Quality and Equality urges those with concerns to write in, noting in its news release that the public comment period ends April 8.

“This is our opportunity to tell the Instructional Quality Commission to prioritize student math achievement and to not support dividing teachers by race,” the group states.

California is no stranger to approving controversial curriculums.

Last month, the California Department of Education approved what was billed as the nation’s first statewide ethnic studies curriculum, a whopping 900-page document that aims to teach California’s public high school students about the oppression of people of color.

Apparently a section that calls for students chanting to Aztec gods was not enough to dissuade the board from approving the highly contested framework.

MORE: To fight racism, math teachers urged to accept Tik Tok videos instead of asking students to ‘show their work’

IMAGE: wk1003mike / Shutterstock

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.