While this framework has yet to be agreed to, there is a long draft that explains the new direction that California public schools could soon be taking. According to Reason’s Robby Soave, the reasoning for the new framework is “equity”. So how is this going to be working once we have crossed the threshold from theory to execution?
The big plan is a simple one to understand but that does not make it any less stupid. Gifted students will no longer be able to take advanced classes until they reach high school. Per Soave’s Reason piece:
“The department is worried that too many students are sorted into different math tracks based on their natural abilities, which leads some to take calculus by their senior year of high school while others don’t make it past basic algebra. The department’s solution is to prohibit any sorting until high school, keeping gifted kids in the same classrooms as their less mathematically inclined peers until at least grade nine.
“The inequity of mathematics tracking in California can be undone through a coordinated approach in grades 6–12,” reads a January 2021 draft of the framework. “In summary, middle-school students are best served in heterogeneous classes.”
If there is one thing that we have learned from the remote learning era, it is this: gifted children tend to do well no matter what obstacles are placed in their path. The majority of the students who struggled were already marginal students before the pandemic even took place. We could see why you could make an argument in favor of this framework.
The logic isn’t that hard to follow. The kids can be kept together and the high performers aren’t going to be affected. However, the reasoning behind this particular effort is more focused on social justice concerns. The outcomes might not be as awful as we expect but the reasoning behind them is not really all that defensible.
“The entire second chapter of the framework is about connecting math to social justice concepts like bias and racism: “Teachers can support discussions that center mathematical reasoning rather than issues of status and bias by intentionally defining what it means to do and learn mathematics together in ways that include and highlight the languages, identities, and practices of historically marginalized communities.”
Teachers should also think creatively about what math even entails: “To encourage truly equitable and engaging mathematics classrooms we need to broaden perceptions of mathematics beyond methods and answers so that students come to view mathematics as a connected, multi-dimensional subject that is about sense-making and reasoning, to which they can contribute and belong,” Soave continues.
When we tried to take a closer look at the framework, most of the quotes were tough to understand. All that we have seen is a school system that is looking to dumb things down in the name of social justice. Students who are looking to differentiate themselves will now have to wait until grades 11 and 12 to do so.
If you take a closer look at the first step, which is entitled Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction, you get an idea of how ridiculous this all is. For starters, they believe that there is just too emphasis on getting the right answer. We are not sure how this is being justified but guys….it’s math! Typically, there is only one right answer to a question and there’s not much that can be done.
Teachers are also being asked to identify times that math was used to uphold racism. Students will also learn to “recognize the ways that communities of color engage in mathematics and problem-solving in their everyday lives”. If all of this sounds like nonsense to you, that’s because it is. Now that students are being led away from math and told that they need to embrace far-left philosophies, we are hoping that common sense can prevail before it is too late.