Educators around the country have come out to condemn a ‘Dismantling Racism in Mathematics’ program which tells teachers not to push students to find the correct answers to math problems because doing so promotes white supremacy.
The program is centered around a workbook for teachers entitled ‘A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction’ which asserts that America’s education system – even mathematics instruction – reinforces the dominant power structures of white colonizers.
Grading students, asking them to show their work, requiring participation and even pushing them to get the right answer are depicted in the workbook as harmful to minorities.
The workbook was created by Oakland, California-based advocacy group The Education Trust-West under its ‘Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction’ initiative, which is funded through a $1million grant from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
So far, the workbook is being used by school districts in Georgia, Ohio, California and Oregon, according to education news site The 74 Million.
It’s part of a larger push nationwide to have students learn about critical race theory, which teaches that racism against minorities is embedded in every aspect of life – even in something as seemingly cut-and-dry as math.
But many critics of the workbook say it actually reinforces negative stereotypes and drives wedges between students according to their race.
‘The workbook’s ultimate message is clear: Black kids are bad at math, so why don’t we just excuse them from really learning it,’ Erec Smith, a professor of rhetoric and composition at York College of Pennsylvania and co-founder of Free Black Thought, told The 74 Million.
Despite its use by districts in California, state board members recently voted against using it in the redesign of the state’s math curriculum.
And while The 74 Million reported that Georgia schools have used it in, the state’s board of education recently passed a resolution banning critical race theory from being taught in its schools.
Supporters of critical race theory say it helps illuminate the obstacles faced by BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) individuals in every aspect of life, including the classroom, which their white counterparts do not have to worry about.
But critics claim it is unnecessarily divisive, and teaches children that they are either victims or oppressors from an early age.
Georgia joined Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Montana and Idaho in banning the teaching of the theory. There are 10 other states discussing a ban, including Texas, Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, West Virginia, San Dakota, North Carolina and Louisiana.
Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Education hosted a seminar on antiracism in education in February, which featured the controversial math workbook.
‘The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false,’ reads the manual. ‘Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates “objectivity.” ‘