Posted on December 9, 2021

Hundreds of College Professors Sign Open Letter Blasting ‘Woke’ Math Movement

Matt McNulty, Daily Mail, December 8, 2021

Hundreds of university professors slammed a ‘woke’ math movement that eliminates calculus in favor of social justice principles, saying the curriculum leaves children unprepared for higher education and puts the US at a global disadvantage.

The missive, titled ‘Open Letter on K-12 Mathematics,’ was published December 6 and signed by 746 math teachers and professors, including many from Ivy League schools.

The letter takes specific aim at a proposed curriculum in California, called the California Mathematics Framework, which seeks to shift away from rigorous math courses to help close the achievement gap faced by underprivileged students, specifically those that are black, Hispanic or from low-income families.

‘We are deeply concerned about the unintended consequences of recent well-intentioned approaches to reform mathematics education, particularly the California Mathematics Framework (CMF),’ the professors’ coalition letter continued.

‘Such frameworks aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers. While such reforms superficially seem “successful” at reducing disparities at the high school level, they are merely “kicking the can” to college.’

The CMF would push Algebra 1 back to 9th grade and remove large parts of the calculus curriculum, while applying social justice concepts to math lessons.

The open letter said that taking away advanced math programs will be ‘the height of irresponsibility’ and will ultimately be to the students’ detriment if they choose to pursue higher education.

For those that do enroll in college, the need for more introductory math courses at the university level to compensate for the lack of advanced high school math programs would likely cause students to need more time to graduate.

‘We all share the urgent concern that the benefits of a robust mathematical education, and the career opportunities it opens up, should be shared more widely between students of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, and economic status.’

‘We fully agree that mathematics education “should not be a gatekeeper but a launchpad,”’ the open letter reads.

Rebecca Pariso, one of the team members of educators tasked in late 2019 with creating California’s new mathematics framework, said she expected some controversy to come with the program, however she did not anticipate the national backlash.

Regardless, Parisio was one of the few vocal defenders the controversial math curriculum in replacing traditional STEM education.

‘There’s a huge problem with math instruction right now,’ Pariso told CalMatters.

‘The way things are set up, it’s not giving everybody a chance to learn math at the highest levels.’

‘We were transforming math education, and change is hard and scary,’ the math teacher at Hueneme Elementary School District added.

‘Especially if you don’t understand why that change needs to occur. But I didn’t expect it to go this far.’

Meanwhile, the 746 educators and professors who signed the open letter insist that it is vital to adhere to the standards set by STEM – Science Technology Engineering Mathematics – which provides the critical thinking skills needed to excel in the future.

‘While it is possible to succeed in STEM at college without taking advanced courses in high school, it is more challenging. College students who need to spend their early years taking introductory math courses may require more time to graduate,’ the letter says.

In July, the California Board of Education announced they were going to push back against implementing the ‘woke’ overhaul of its mathematics curriculum, after opponents to the framework’s movement argued the plan needlessly inserts politics and social justice measures into lessons, according to Fox News.

However, many schools have eliminated standardized testing in the wake of the COVID pandemic and have lowered math standards.

Parents across the country have echoed the professors’ coalition in revolting against several Department of Education schools where accelerated math programs have been suspended.

‘They’re changing math to make it math appreciation,’ said Michael Malione, a parent in the Piedmont City Unified School District who also works as a private math tutor.

‘A part of math is learning things that are not authentic to life.’

Administrators at one of those schools, Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies in Manhattan, were pressured to reinstitute honors math classes in June after a number of complaints from parents.

The Robert Wagner Middle School on the Upper East Side has also looked to remove its honors math program despite a fierce backlash from parents.