State Seeks End Of Advanced Math Courses In Name Of Social Justice

The California Department of Education’s 2021 mathematics framework seeks to end accelerated math opportunities for gifted students due to racial disparities in “gifted” math programs.

“In California in 2004-2014, 32% of Asian American students were in gifted programs, compared with 8% of White students, 4% of Black students, and 3% of Latinx students,” reads the text of the new framework.

In response to these apparent inequities, the framework recommends doing away with the accelerated math track the state’s middle school students can currently choose. Under the current system, gifted math students could take both Math 7 and 8 in 7th grade, allowing them to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. This track puts such students on a pathway to take Calculus by 12th grade, setting the stage for them to take more advanced math courses in college.

The framework argues California’s public schools should do away with grouping students by ability, instead “districts and schools must confront the structural inequities of tracking and ability grouping, and to strengthen their efforts to support all students learning along a common pathway.”

But not everyone believes doing away with accelerated math in the name of “equity” is a good idea, with Mike Malione of Piedmont Advanced Learners Program saying the changes could cause “irreparable harm.”

“I predict it will cause irreparable harm to our public’s ongoing preparedness for STEM careers, resulting in unfathomable costs to all when our nation finds itself unable to advance or even properly maintain its highly technological, life-sustaining infrastructure,” Malione wrote in response to the framework.

“My biggest issue with the new framework is that, in its determination to bestow social justice and equity, it denounces existing exclusionary practices as ‘arbitrary or irrelevant,’ without ever honestly examining their necessity in the context of educating a workforce that will be tasked with the technological realities of the mid-21st Century,” Malione continued.

Malione also argued that the framework would do little to provide its stated goal of equitable outcomes, noting that parents with the means to send their children to pricey private schools would begin to have a leg up on some of the traditionally underserved students that attend public schools.

“Furthermore, by removing all the opportunities for our highest achieving students to prepare their way into suitable STEM pre-career pathways, those careers would remain available only to students coming from families wealthy enough to afford private enrichment,” Malione wrote. “Such a move is all the more foolhardy in California, a state that is both economically and symbolically anchored by its technological innovation and leadership. Achieving equity in the STEM fields requires raising the reach of all who might rise to the challenge, not lowering the bar so far that few will be prepared for its stretches anymore.”

The new framework has yet to be adopted by the state, with revisions and a second public comment period to take place in June and July.

Author: Michael Lee

Source: Washington Examiner: California seeks end of advanced math courses in name of social justice

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