California Approves New Math Guidelines That Emphasize 'Social Justice'

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

For nearly two years, California has been fiddling with new guidelines for teaching math that “de-emphasizes calculus, and applies social justice principles to math lessons.” Now those guidelines have been finalized, and the state board of education is thrilled to announce that math is no longer “racist.”

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“This framework provides strategies to challenge, engage, and support all students in deep and relevant math learning by building on successful approaches used in nations that produce high and equitable achievement in math,” State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond said in a statement.

“High standards” are desirable. But “equitable achievement”? Which nations produce both?

Darling-Hammond added, “It also draws on the experiences of educators who have worked for a decade to develop successful strategies for teaching California’s rigorous standards, carrying those lessons to others across the state. This framework provides teachers and schools with a path to greater excellence with greater equity.”

The 1,000-page document is a triumph of idiocy. The idea is to make math instruction “culturally relevant” and “empowering” and to “instill confidence in learners by dispelling myths about who can and cannot learn math.”

“Cultural and personal relevance is important for learning and also for creating mathematical communities that reflect California’s diversity. Educators can learn to notice, utilize, and value students’ identities, assets, and cultural resources to support learning for all students. Additionally, because culture and language can be intertwined, attending to cultural relevance may also enable teachers to attend to linguistic diversity – a key feature of California and relevant to the teaching and learning of mathematics,” the document reads.

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PJ Media’s Matt Margolis covered the initial efforts at developing these new guidelines in 2021. At the time, more than 1,000 STEM experts signed an open letter condemning the new criteria, writing that “the proposed framework “de-mathematizes math,” and that “a real champion of equity and justice would want all California’s children to learn actual math—as in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus—not an endless river of new pedagogical fads that effectively distort and displace actual math.”

The new guidelines are based on a concept known as “equitable math” that seeks “to dismantle objectivity in the concept.” That means there are no “right” or “wrong answers” — a curious basis for any level of mathematics.

“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 read. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates objectivity as well as fear of open conflict.”

Related: Apocalypse Now: The Decline of Reading and Math Skills in American 13-Year-Olds

In 2021, a document used to develop the new guidelines, titled “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction,” explained the concept of no “right” answers:

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Wall Street Journal:

This manual claims that teachers addressing students’ mistakes forthrightly is a form of white supremacy. It sets forth indicators of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom,” including a focus on “getting the right answer,” teaching math in a “linear fashion,” requiring students to “show their work” and grading them on demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter. “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,” the manual explains. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates ‘objectivity.’ ” Apparently, that’s also racist.

Those poor kids. They’ve become “warriors for social justice” without being asked. And the price they pay will prove to be far more damaging to their futures than anything any white person will ever do to them.

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