SF Schools Made Kids Wait a Year to Take Algebra; You'll Totally Believe What Happened Next

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

If Washington is where bad ideas go to achieve eternal life, then California is where they’re conceived — as today’s story about San Francisco’s Unified School District shows.

In 2014, the district decided to force students to wait until 9th grade to take basic Algebra 1. Typically, 8th grade is the standard year, followed by Geometry and then Algebra 2. From there, more hardworking or gifted students can move beyond the required courses and pursue Pre-Calc, Calculus, and even AP Calculus, among other electives.

It takes time, though.

With the required classes ending in 10th grade with Algebra 2, that only gives the best and brightest two years to shoot for the stars and ace those tougher electives.

In San Francisco Unified, they get only one year.

That’s why you’ll see stories like this one:

Joselyn Marroquin, a freshman at Lincoln High in San Francisco, challenged herself by taking two math classes this year.

Because the San Francisco Unified School District requires students to wait until 9th grade to take Algebra 1, Joselyn enrolled in both Algebra 1 and Geometry at the same time so she can make it to AP Calculus by her senior year.

“The stress of taking two classes and having homework for each was difficult to manage,” Joselyn said. “It was hard at first, but I got used to it.”

If San Francisco middle schools still taught Algebra 1 in 8th grade like they’re supposed to, Joselyn wouldn’t be breaking her back with two math classes.

It’s doubly difficult because Geometry builds on concepts taught in Algebra 1.

Rather than Joselyn having to teach herself certain algebra concepts before her algebra teacher gets to them, her grandfather Rex Ridgeway stepped in. He paid $850 of his own money for summer algebra classes. “A lot of Black families don’t have the resources to do what I did,” Ridgeway told CalMatters.

They’re doing all this in order to help Joselyn get into UCLA, her “dream school.”

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If that seems unfair to Joselyn and her family, wait until you read what it does to less gifted or privileged kids.

While families with means hire tutors or pay for summer classes, others are stuck with San Francisco Unified’s bad policy.

Districtwide, the percentage of students meeting what the state considers an appropriate level of math knowledge increased by 2.6 percentage points between the 2014-15 and the 2018-19 school years. The percentage of Black and Latino students meeting standards also increased by 2.6 points. But the gap between the percentage of low-income students and the percentage of students district-wide meeting standards has grown by 2 points.

Schools with high proportions of Black and Latino students have fared far worse on standardized tests.

The irony? San Francisco pushed back Algebra 1 ostensibly to help minority students.

The solution? Rather than move Algebra 1 back to middle school, and maybe focus on giving black and Latino students extra help preparing for high school, San Francisco may declare that math itself is racist.

PJ’s own Matt Margolis reported two weeks ago:

California is on the verge of adopting a new math framework rooted in critical race theory.

According to The San Francisco Standard, the new standards pull programs for gifted students, “de-emphasizes calculus, and applies social justice principles to math lessons.”

Typical leftism: Use government policy to make it harder for the gifted to succeed, make it impossible for the less-gifted to succeed, and then blame the whole government-made mess on racism.


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