In California the Department of Education is reevaluating how math is being taught in the classroom and looking to change the current modality due to concerns that the current way of teaching is racist and a form of white supremacy.

The new format being created to implement in the classroom is called, “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction.”  The manual will be a guide for teachers to use to evaluate their own biases and how they can transform the ways they instruct students.

The manual for “Equitable Math” is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions. Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.” – excerpt from manual

The proposed new guidance from California provides insight on how teaching math could be construed as white supremacy or racist.

  • The focus is on getting the “right” answer.
  • Independent practice is valued over teamwork or collaboration.
  • “Real-world math” is valued over math in the real world.
  • Students are tracked (into courses/pathways and within the classroom).
  • Participation structures reinforce dominant ways of being.

“These common practices that perpetuate white supremacy culture create and sustain institutional and systemic barriers to equity for Black, Latinx, and Multilingual students. In order to dismantle these barriers, we must identify what it means to be an antiracist math educator. In order to embody antiracist math education, teachers must engage in critical praxis that interrogates the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy culture in their own classrooms, and develop a plan toward antiracist math education to address issues of equity for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students.” – excerpt from manual

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Educators have concerns over the guidance described in the manual that it will limit their ability to teach math effectively to their students.

“Members are deeply concerned about the draft 2021 CA Mathematics Framework, which contains discriminatory and divisive content that will impede us from accomplishing important goals in math instruction. We ask that the state provide us with a mathematics framework that reflects sound, research-based practices over political ideology,” – Lori Meyers, co-founder of Educators for Quality and Equality