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Oregon Department of Education promotes ‘dismantling racism’ in math classes

The Oregon Department of Education is promoting a so-called micro-course in “math equity” which begins later this month and will offer “key tools for engagement [and] strategies to improve equitable outcomes for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students.”

As noted in the Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction‘s “Stride 1” toolkit, one of the ways to do this is by “visibilizing the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”

These “toxic characteristics” include:

• 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.

Examples of white supremacy in mathematics assessment would be requiring students to show their work and grading policies “focusing on lack of knowledge.”

Fox News notes the toolkit 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 as well as fear of open conflict.”

From the story:

The ODE, led by Colt Gill, confirmed the [news]letter to Fox News. ODE Communications Director Marc Siegel also defended the “Equitable Math” educational program, saying it “helps educators learn key tools for engagement, develop strategies to improve equitable outcomes for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, and join communities of practice.” …

It also encourages teachers to “center ethnomathematics,” which includes a variety of guidelines. One of them instructs educators to “identify and challenge the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views.” …

In one section of the “Dismantling Racism” workbook, the argument is made that “only white people can be racist in our society, because only white people as a group have that power.” Another section seems to justify anti-cop sentiments.

“In some cases, the prejudices of oppressed people (‘you can’t trust the police’) are necessary for survival,” it reads.

That particular workbook seems to take a decidedly anti-capitalist tone as well.

The micro-course contains five sessions, beginning on February 25 and continuing through March. It features “professional trainer” Martin Cisneros who is an “original Google Certified Innovator, Google Certified Trainer, Adobe Educational Leader, Apple Teacher and CUE Professional Lead Learner/Rockstar Faculty.”

Most of the associated “math content consultants,” “expert instructional designers” and “expert advisors” have terms like “social justice” and “equity” in their professional bios.

Read the article.

MORE: Wake Forest University offers new ‘antiracist use of math’ class

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.