Friday, March 5, 2021
Home Education Math is Racist?: Oregon Dept. of Education Thinks It Is.

Math is Racist?: Oregon Dept. of Education Thinks It Is.

An online document was issued by Oregon Department of Education in an effort to address… you guessed it… racism in mathematics.

The document promotes a series of coursework for educators, called The Pathway, filled with resources to support “black, Latinx, and multilingual students” in grades six through eight.

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Teachers taking the course must go through five “strides,” to include reflection on one’s own biases and coaching other colleagues in the “ongoing centering of equity principles.”

Let’s be real. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that within the context of federally funded programs (like most public schools) discrimination based on race, color, or national origin is prohibited.

But what appears to be happening in Oregon is the manufacturing of issues based on preconceived notions about entire demographics of Americans while failing to address other ethnic groups.

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To say black or Latino students are failing math due to lesson plans being racially biased says nothing about the students “of color” who actually do succeed. If racism is the core of why black and brown students can’t catch up, then how do we explain above average and exceptional math scores among Asian students?

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress by the National Center for Education Statistics, from 1990 to 2019, 4th grade Asian students have consistently scored highest in math compared to peers of other races.

So are Asian students impervious to racism? And could an initiative to address racism in math overlook the needs of these students? Why not address the fact that some kids just don’t like math. It’s not farfetched to come to this conclusion especially if teachers haven’t taken the steps to address boring, outdated curriculums and poor teacher performance (not to mention negative social and cultural attitudes toward math, also known as “learned helplessness”).

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From Mathnasium.com:

…we can learn helplessness from the failure of others. In short, the more the people around the child perceive maths as an unpleasant subject, the more likely the child will inherit the same perceptions. In other words, the behaviour is cultural.”

ntil education boards address the realities of the subjects they teach, they will continue to fail students in flying colors.

https://www.mathnasium.com/children-hate-math-in-early-years

It’s starting to look more like some educators are looking for every reason to explain their failures to teach than addressing the actual factors working against them (to include their own professional incompetence). Parents are seeing lots of finger pointing and less direction. But until the school board solves actual problems, kids of all backgrounds will suffer through subjects like math with flying colors, indeed.

What kids need more than pandering and politics are patient educators who can help them achieve their individual goals. Young people need one-on-one attention instead of being lumped into a group based on race or socio-economic status. Students thrive when they are allowed to do so, and there are no guarantees that progressive ideals in a classroom setting will help them excel and flourish in the future.

Sources:

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cnc.asp

https://disrn.com/news/oregon-promotes-a-pathway-to-equitable-math-instruction-pamphlet-with-section-on-dismantling-racism-in-math

https://www.mathnasium.com/children-hate-math-in-early-years

https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs/TitleVI-Overview

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