In California, ‘Social Justice’ Comes to Math Class

california social justice math Images, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

California likes to boast that they are the tip of the spear regarding policy and societal change. Their latest move in the world of education will no doubt find its way seeping into other state boards of education as the blue states tend to fall in line after their west coast leader.

The Golden State approved a new math curriculum focusing on equity and social justice and a little less on, you know…numbers. The new math framework for California students is sold to improve the dismal math scores in the state and help elevate minority students.

Like most left-wing plans sold to help minorities, this one will do nothing but continue to hurt them and every other student that this curriculum will touch. Let’s look at what will soon be coming to a school board near you.

1 + 1 = racist

The California State Board of Education has adopted a new K-12 math curriculum. This highly contested framework will be in place for eight years, as the curriculum isn’t up for adjustment until then.

The curriculum pushes math teachers in the state to hold the opinion that math has a role in:

“…the power structures and privileges in America.”

It further recommends that math teachers take a “trauma-informed pedagogy” within the curriculum. This concept assumes that all students are crippled on an emotional level by our society, which according to this ideology is racist, sexist, and violent due to its capitalistic nature.

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Because nothing is more racist and American than the universal concept of arithmetic. The framework includes what is dubbed:

“five important components of classroom instruction that can meet the needs of students who are diverse.”

These five components are:

  1. plan teaching around big ideas
  2. use open, engaging tasks
  3. teach toward social justice
  4. invite student questions and conjectures
  5. prioritize reasoning and justification

If you weren’t paying close attention, the garbage they sandwiched between generally good concepts would slip right by you.

Less teaching, more training

Within this heap of junk brought to you by overpaid and overeducated education bureaucrats are examples of good math projects, including my favorite: Math Identity Rainbows. According to the curriculum, a math identity rainbow is created by having students weave together six different colored strings to show they are part of a “classroom community.”

It’s fair to say California won’t be producing the next rocket scientists anytime soon. The curriculum drones on about the need to teach around “big ideas” through “student-led inquiry.” 

That doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. I had a fantastic AP Statistics teacher who let us use sports information to prove that we understood the course material.

But that’s different from what this curriculum is referring to.

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The “big ideas” they refer to are the social justice causes that the left loves to champion. The curriculum argues:

“Teaching toward social justice can play an important role in shifting students’ perspectives on mathematics as well as their sense of belonging as mathematics thinkers.”

I was pretty good at math back in the day, but I don’t know what a ‘mathematics thinker’ is. What happened to showing how math plays a vital role in daily life, such as with money, engineering, design, medicine, art, and quite literally everything?

The authors of this curriculum go on to say that it empowers:

“…learners with tools to examine inequities and address important issues in their lives and communities through mathematics.”

Ah, I see now; when solving for x: 2x – 4 = x – 10, then x = I’m a racist. 

No more Derivatives 

Besides the ridiculous social justice jargon woven throughout the new math curriculum, the other and arguably more dangerous aspect is the push to lower the bar for all California students. Not only does the framework encourage teachers to instruct algebra “visually and through words” versus through, you know, actual algebraic equations – it flat-out discourages algebra as a class altogether.

That’s right, the California State Board of Education doesn’t think algebra should be taught before High School and also believes students should have the option to take what is called “math-lite data science” courses. Now I get it; when was the last time you’ve had to solve for x?

Literally, every day of your life, you solve for x; you do it most of the time effortlessly in your head. Why? Because you were taught algebra. 

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But let’s say this isn’t a big deal; after all, these kids can get algebra in their first year of High School. The problem behind that thinking is that to take pre-calculus or even AP calculus in high school; you need to take algebra in middle school.

At a minimum, most colleges require pre-calculus for specific degree programs—bye-bye opportunities for higher education and hello continued cycle of poverty. Talk about systemic racism!

Everyone is equally below average

Thanks to educational dumpster fires like this one in California, America’s youth continue to be forced into mediocrity. In California, only a third of all students and 23% of all 8th graders are considered “proficient” in math.

Nobody honestly believes that any of the practices mentioned above will help any student, especially with the discouragement of memorizing multiplication tables and good old-fashioned math drills. One of the best math teachers I ever had was Mr. Gimple, who would run math drill after math drill with me repeatedly on an overhead projector until I finally understood the problem and, most importantly, how to find the answer.

California also wants to get rid of “student tracking” – which is allowing those with an aptitude for mathematics to take accelerated courses – to eliminate differences in “school experiences” to “support equitable student mathematics success.” I hate to break it to you, liberals, but some people just aren’t good at math. 

Sometimes it’s because they don’t try hard enough; sometimes, it’s just a lack of natural ability. While I was good at math, there is a reason I write political commentary versus working for Elon Musk at SpaceX.

Lowering the bar doesn’t create more opportunities; all that does is create a foundation of helplessness. Raising the bar is how you elevate those who wish to be elevated. 

Just like reading is a universal equalizer; math is a universal concept. Math isn’t racist, it isn’t sexist, it isn’t violent, and it isn’t even American.

Math is math – and you need it to function in the real world. 1 + 1 = 2, whether you are white, black, brown, green, purple, or any other abstract concept you identify as today.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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