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New California’s educational guidelines: math is racist, the ‘color-blind’ approach they write ‘allows such systemic inequities to continue.’

New California's educational guidelines: math is racist, the 'color-blind' approach they write 'allows such systemic inequities to continue.'
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New California’s educational guidelines: math is racist, the ‘color-blind’ approach they write ‘allows such systemic inequities to continue.’ California is prepared to implement new critical race theory-based math teaching ideas.

These reforms which include removing programs for academically bright students and deemphasizing calculus, will “bring social justice ideals to math instruction.” These guidelines do not tell teachers how to teach critical race theory; rather they suggest how to use critical race theory to develop teaching principles.

Teachers, not students, are taught critical race theory which they are then expected to apply to their own activities. The new math framework’s purpose is to “maintain rigor while also assisting in the remediation of California’s achievement gaps” for black, Latino, and low-income children.

The modifications are being implemented because California children are falling behind in math. “We were redefining math instruction,” Rebecca Pariso, a math teacher at Hueneme Elementary School District told the San Francisco Standard.

“Especially if you’re not sure why the adjustment is required. But I didn’t anticipate it progressing so fast.” San Francisco educational standards provided the inspiration for these new guidelines. “Cultural relevance is important for learning and also for expanding a collective sense of what mathematical communities look and sound like to reflect California’s diverse history,” according to Chapter 2, “Teaching for Equity and Engagement.”

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The new guidelines will be up for consideration prior to their possible adoption in July. It then goes on to criticize mathematics for “developing in a way that has alienated many students” throughout the years.”Right now, there is a tremendous problem with math instruction,” Pariso added. Because of the way things are set up, not everyone has the opportunity to learn math at the highest levels.

Memory Matrix Development and Application

“Teachers must act consciously to oppose racially or gendered conceptions about mathematical accomplishment because of these disparities,” they argue. The guidelines state that “the evolution of mathematics in educational settings has resulted in dramatic inequities for students of color, girls, and students from low-income homes,” in response to the claim that “avoiding aspects of race, culture, gender, or other characteristics as they teach mathematics” is actually equitable.

They believe it is inequitable in part because the training that those kids have previously received does not “appropriately leverage students’ different knowledge bases, identities and experiences for both learning and establishing a sense of belonging to mathematics.”

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The “color-blind” approach they write, “allows such systemic inequities to continue.” Consequently, examples “to help educators use and value students’ identities, assets, and cultural resources to support learning and ensure access to high achievement for all students in California—particularly English learners, who are linguistically and culturally diverse and those who have been disenfranchised by systemic inequities” are included in the guidance on how to teach for “equity and engagement.”

The “Math Language Routines,” developed by Understanding Language at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity,” are presented in Chapter 4 of the guidelines as part of the foundation for this new endeavor.

This “framework” was created by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education with the goal of assisting “teachers in planning and delivering lessons that address the specialized academic language demands in mathematics, including the demands of reading, writing, speaking, listening, conversing, and representing in mathematics.”

The new guidelines also suggest that grading isn’t the best approach to determine mastery in math.They define mastery based grading as “a type of grading that focuses on mastery of ideas, rather than points.” It communicates the mathematics that students are learning, and instead of a grade, students receive feedback on the mathematics that they have learned or are learning.

This encourages students to think of learning as a process that they can develop over time, rather than a score or grade that they often regard as a reflection of their worth.

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Read More: Authentic Assessment – Issues and Implications 


The new guidelines have been met with opposition, particularly from STEM workers. Svetlana Jitomirskaya, a UC Irvine mathematics professor, claims that the guidelines authors failed to contact STEM experts who are more familiar with the development of mathematics education and how concepts build on previous courses.

“The process should have clearly included STEM academics from top CA colleges with firsthand understanding of what is needed for success as STEM majors.” “It is absurd that this was not done,” she told the San Francisco Standard.

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