The “Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction” caught attention in February when Fox News reported on Oregon defending the program, which advises, among other things, that the focus on finding the right answer is an example of White supremacy infiltrating classrooms.
“The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so,” a document for the “Equitable Math” toolkit reads. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”
Educators for Quality and Equality co-founder Lori Meyers told Fox News on Tuesday: “With California schools consistently performing below average in math on both the CAASP [California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress] assessment and on our Nation’s Report Card, it’s especially important that the State Board of Education provide us educators with resources that contain research-based best practices for improving outcomes, and reject resources that demean teachers and single out one race for blame.”
“We ask that the state provide us with a mathematics framework that reflects sound, research-based practices over political ideology,” she added.
According to the department’s website, the state will be reviewing the draft framework throughout the year with the school board taking action on it in November. Meyers worries that the framework could last for years if approved. The last one to be implemented by the state was from 2013.
Meyers’ group sent a letter to state leaders last week with a request to reconsider the “Equitable Math” program, which is included multiple times as a reference in the state’s draft framework.
“[W]e are deeply concerned about the draft 2021 CA Mathematics Framework, which contains discriminatory and divisive content that will impede us from accomplishing these important goals in math instruction,” the group’s letter reads.
The California Department of Education did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment. The draft framework references the “Equitable Math” program multiple times and lists it as a resource in the section on “supporting equitable and engaging mathematics instruction.”
That section touts “cultural relevance” as “important for learning and also for expanding a collective sense of what mathematical communities look and sound like to reflect California’s diverse history. A focus on equity recognizes that mathematics, over the years, has developed in a way that has excluded many students.”
It adds that “[b]ecause of these inequities, teachers need to work consciously to counter racialized or gendered ideas about mathematics achievement … It is common for people to claim that avoiding aspects of race, culture, gender or other characteristics as they teach mathematics, means they are being equitable; but the evolution of mathematics in educational settings has resulted in dramatic inequities for students of color, girls and students from low-income homes.”
In the framework’s introduction, it says that “equity influences all aspects of this document.” One of its stated “overarching principles” declares that “[t]he belief that ‘I treat everyone the same’ is insufficient.”
It adds: “Active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities.”
Another document calls for centering “ethnomathematics,” designing a “culturally sustainable math space,” and supporting students “to reclaim their mathematical ancestry.”
California, like other states, has come under intense scrutiny for its promotion of certain race- and ethnic-based instruction. In March, researcher Chris Rufo highlighted the state’s proposed ethnic studies “model curriculum,” which included, among other things, chanting the names of Aztec gods in an attempt to build unity among schoolchildren. That particular deity, Tezkatlipoka, was honored with human sacrifice. According to the World History Encyclopedia, an impersonator of Tezkatlipoka would be sacrificed with his heart removed to honor the deity.
In recent months, a long list of controversial, race-based teachings have emerged from different areas of the country.
When the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) defended the “Equitable Math” program, it argued the curricula “helps educators learn key tools for engagement, develop strategies to improve equitable outcomes for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, and join communities of practice.”