Woke Math Returns to California

Woke Math Returns to California. By Lance Izumi.

Like the return of the undead, woke math has come back to haunt California’s classrooms …

Last year, the California Department of Education released the first draft of a new curriculum framework for K-12 mathematics …

The first draft was widely criticized for politicizing math instruction by inserting “environmental and social justice” into the math curriculum, having students solve “problems that result in social inequalities,” and rejecting the notion that math is a “neutral discipline.”

Because of intense backlash, including an open letter signed by more than 1,200 mathematicians, scientists, and education leaders, the first draft was pulled back. But now, a second draft has been released and it is still filled with woke concepts and prescriptions.

The second draft says that the goal of teaching math will be to “promote racial justice.” Indeed, five of the 14 chapters of the framework are focused on equity, with the CDE saying that “equity influences all aspects of this document.”

As University of Chicago Professor Charles Lipson has pointed out: “Equality means equal treatment, unbiased competition and impartially judged outcomes. Equity means equal outcomes, achieved if necessary by unequal treatment, biased competition and preferential judging.” …

Trauma-induced pedagogy:

One troubling teaching method recommended by the framework is trauma-induced pedagogy.

Trauma-induced pedagogy “is the idea that students are disabled emotionally by a racist, sexist, violent society ruled by a capitalist class and that therefore teaching should be therapeutic.”

“Such teacher-therapists often conclude that their teaching should encourage resistance to society’s institutions,” observe Evers and Wurman, who both worked in the George W. Bush administration.

Further, despite the CDE tweaking a few things from the first draft, Evers and Wurman say that the second draft of the framework “is still highly politicized,” with teachers still asked to promote “sociopolitical consciousness” among students and push a “justice-oriented perspective” at all grade levels.

Infusing math instruction with a highly politicized ideology will only worsen California’s poor student math performance.

By focusing on politics and ideology, rather than on mathematical computational excellence, the framework deprives students of the tools and learning they will need to succeed in math and, subsequently, in the workplace.

A technological powerhouse country that dumbs down its maths education to cater for ideology and people who can’t do maths will not remain a technological powerhouse for long, even if it tries to import all its technologists.

Mathematics is confronting, because it shatters the illusion that we are all the same. It is also different from other subjects because the answers are demonstrably right or wrong. Everyone has a level at which maths becomes dauntingly difficult, and that level differs dramatically between people and with age. For some, that level is maybe somewhere around basic arithmetic, and asking such people to do more advanced maths is a waste of everyone’s time. Top end maths skills are rare — it’s just not something most people can or want to do.

If you represented a large sub-population with noncompetitive math skills, wouldn’t you be trying to replace actual math with ideology and other distractions? Got to get out of that difficult maths homework, and besides, the wrong people do well at it…

I predict that what will happen is that there will emerge two streams in education. One will be the woke ideological stream with only rudimentary mathematics, suitable for people with lower maths abilities. The other will be traditional western maths — non-ideological and challenging. Good schools will give you a choice of which program you want your kid to be taught.