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SFSU seeks math professor who uses ‘anti-racist teaching strategies’

San Francisco State University recently put out a help wanted ad for a new math professor.

The 1,447-word description includes no information about the specific math skills the scholar will need to do the job.

Nearly the entire post is essentially dedicated to explaining that the position is for someone who knows how to teach math to black and Latino students using equitable and anti-racist methods.

The job is “part of a cohort hire focused on Black and Latinx/e student success,” the ad states.

“We are looking for teacher/scholars who have an established commitment to teaching, research and/or service in and with the Black and Latinx/e community. Candidates for this position are expected to satisfy two or more of the eight Black and Latinx/e Student Success Cohort Hire criteria.”

The criteria are:

1. Training in and knowledge of historical and present-day structural racism, and practice that engages that knowledge (practice may include teaching, research, and/or service).

2. Demonstrated knowledge of challenges and barriers for Black and Latinx/e students, and evidence of strategies employed to help students overcome such barriers.

3. Evidence of employing anti-racist teaching strategies that support the learning and success of Black and Latinx students.

4. Mentors and engages Black and Latinx/e students in research, scholarship, and creative activities.

5. Evidence of research that contributes to equity, opportunities, and inclusion in higher education.

6. Evidence of research that integrates understanding of and/or engages Black and Latinx/e communities’ challenges and structural realities.

7. Evidence of engaging in service to Black and Latinx/e populations within the discipline.

8. Evidence of service and contributions to Black and Latinx/e communities.

San Francisco State University’s job opening illustrates a troubling trend in higher education — the argument that math is racist. Or teaching math is racist. Or teaching math objectively is racist.

Earlier this year, for example, an education professor at a major mathematician meeting described college math as “white” and “cisheteropatriarchal.”

Apparently the only way to tackle this “math is racist” problem is by hiring professors of color who know how to teach math equitably, as SFSU is trying to do.

What does teaching math equitably look like? As this infamous video from 2013 showcasing the principles behind Common Core shows, 4 X 3 can equal 11.

The problem runs deep. More recently, asking students to “show their work,” for example, is “white supremacy,” according to progressive scholars. Additional “toxic characteristics” in math, according to the “math is racist” crowd, 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).

In California, where SFSU is located, things are getting much worse, as college students who have taken dumbed-down classes cannot keep up with their peers who were actually taught real math along the way.

Nearly 1,800 California STEM professors recently signed on to an “Open Letter on K-12 Mathematics” calling for more rigor. They are alarmed at the current proposal to dumb down math in the name of equity, a plan that would also disavow the concept of student giftedness because it allegedly creates “inequities in mathematics education.”

With meritocracy thrown out, advances in science, technology  and medicine will suffer, perhaps irreparably. All in the name of equity.

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

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