Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The 2018 rankings by the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, places the U.S. 38th out of the 79 countries that participated in the math test, which is given to 15yearolds. The U.S. scored below the international average, trailing many nonworld powers such as Portugal, Latvia, Vietnam, etc.
Here in California, the students can’t even keep up with the sluggish national average. According to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, just 23% of 8^{th} graders are proficient in math. In fact, the state’s 8^{th} graders are ranked 38th in math nationally. On California’s most recent Smarter Balanced test, just one in three students met the standard in math. Scores on that exam showed that a paltry 19% of 11^{th} graders met gradelevel standards in math.
So, the Golden State educrats just had to do something, and as of 2021, the “somethings” were a sight to behold. The gurus of the proposed math framework, which is not mandatory but rather suggested guidelines, decided that teachers should use “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction” as a resource to improve student learning. This radical drivel insists that addressing student errors, focusing on getting the right answer, and requiring students to show their work is a form of white supremacy. Objectivity is racist, you see.
But due to citizen outrage during the “public comments” period, the state walked back some of its new math mandates, notably dropping the overthetop A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction. The commission agreed to remove references to the toolkit from the draft framework, stating it was “inconsistent with teaching to the standards.”
In 2022, another iteration of the framework, also filled with edublather, went by the wayside.
In July 2023, the state finally came to a decision, and it’s not a very pretty one. In brief, the California education pundits have taken tried and true methods and replaced them with newthink gobbledygook. For example, while math proficiency has traditionally depended on memorization, the new framework promotes “studentled” instruction, “active learning,” “active inquiry,” and “collaborative” instruction.
Bill Evers, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Educational Excellence at the Independent Institute, has many issues with the new framework. He writes that there is” a science of math instruction,” which includes, among other things, “having students memorize math facts (like multiplication tables and addition and subtraction facts) and standard algorithms.” Evers also stresses that working out answers to problems and doing so quickly are components of math fluency.
In addition to ignoring certain proven math teaching strategies, there is a touchyfeelie and farleft aspect woven into the framework. The 1,000page document aims to structure the teaching of the state’s math standards around “big ideas” that allow students to “see themselves in the curriculum and in mathrelated careers by making math instruction culturally relevant and empowering…”
The framework also supports socalled TraumaInformed Pedagogy, which is geared toward students’ feelings. “Data related to issues can draw not only from a range of mathematical ideas and student curiosities but also from a range of feelings about relevant, complex issues. A focus on complex feelings aligns with traumainformed pedagogy, which highlights the importance of allowing students to identify and express their feelings as part of mathematics sensemaking, and to allow students to address what they learn about their world by suggesting recommendations and taking action.”
The first objective of the “teaching toward social justice” portion of the framework asks teachers to encourage students to “see themselves and others as mathematically competent” as a way to build positive identities.
The framework explains that one way to do that is through culturally responsive teaching practices, which can be implemented in mathematics by “exploring students’ lives and histories and designing and implementing curricula that center contributions that historically marginalized people have made to mathematics.”
Another social justice objective is to empower students “with tools to examine inequities and address important issues in their lives and communities.” Additionally, teachers are advised to use “mathematics to analyze and discuss issues of fairness and justice and to make mathematics relevant and engaging to students.”
Getting downright Marxist, the framework enters into the “oppressors and oppressed” arena, contending that mathematics should be used to “both understand and impact the world.” It argues that math teachers should hold the political position that “mathematics plays a role in the power structures and privileges that exist within our society and can support action and positive change.”
And just for comic relief, the framework suggests that students in California should employ “math identity rainbows” whereby students weave together “colored cords (pink, orange, yellow, blue, and purple) to show that they are part of a classroom community.” Yellow, for instance, represents communicating, while pink is for perseverance. The exercise allegedly “provides students with the opportunity to notice that together they are part of a mathematical community.”
Some people from other states may be wondering, “Why should I care about what happens in California?”
Tom Loveless, a Harvard professor of public policy, has an answer. “With almost six million public school students, the state constitutes the largest textbook market in the United States. Publishers are likely to cater to that market by producing instructional materials in accord with the state’s preferences.”
Hence, if textbooks are vying for the California market, other states could be affected as they may not have an alternative textbook to use.
Darren Miller, a veteran California high school math teacher, sums up the mess in a blog post. “As Instapundit has said many times: If they can’t give you good government, they’ll give you ‘woke’ government. I’ll add to that: If they can’t give you good education, they’ll give you ‘woke’ education. And that’s exactly what California is dishing up here.”
Miller is right, of course. Unless California changes course in a hurry, the state will soon be largely populated by leftwing innumerates who feel very good about themselves. Whoopee.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the nonprofit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a nonpartisan, nonpolitical group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.
Ugly Sid says
Anyone with a time machine who wanted a sound public education for their children would send them to the early twentieth century and avoid the twentyfirst.
Anyone testing themselves with a New York State Reagent’s Exam from 1918 and will realize this immediately. The experience is humbling.
For a time just before the millennium I used to work for a community college, in admissions. My job was to disappoint minority high school graduates with fourth grade level communication and calculation abilities. The experience resembled the one described in The Mau Mauing of the Flack Catcher, for those familiar with the tome. I caught substantial flack.
Pip McGuigin says
What is missing in this missive is any breakdown of scores among blacks, whites, latinos, Indians and the illegal kids from every rat hole country they are from. How many of those taking the test were minorities whose parents frown upon an education? Granted the California statewide math curriculum is slanted more toward equity, equality and concern about cli9mate irregularities….but… Give me the racial breakdown of the scores. Then and only then will I get concerned.
Ugly Sid says
If you’re referring to my missive:
I was there ten months. My qualifications were bilingualism and a pair of undergraduate degrees. I left because of preferences for race, gender and age.
They were black kids from Liberty City, Miami.
There’s your statistical micro analysis.
Take it or leave it.
Luz Maria Rodriguez says
Plus, there is plenty of evidence in the various surveys comparing US public school students to students of first world nations, e.g., Denmark,Singapore, many other top nations demonstrate better education scores than the US,even though the US spends more per capiita than most 1st world nations. Unions here have ruined public education. We are experiencing the dying throes of a former 1st world nation. Thanks to the spoiled leftists here.
Ugly Sid says
Exactly, Lucy.
The last I knew, average class size in South Korean schools exceeded thirtyfive. Their kids trounce ours.
In America,the unions would be screaming to increase the size of the faculties, and further dilute whatever standards remain to do it.
The Koreans have the ganas [ the stiff necked commitment ] to expand their public education that we’ve lost as the Left has coopted our institutions.
The results speak for themselves. They are horrible.
internalexile says
“Two plus two white supremacists equals five white supremacists! Two plus two white supremacists equals five white supremacists! SAY IT, Winston, SAY IT!”
Paul Ashley says
Way back in the mid90s in Mad Town Madison, Wisconsin, the superintendent of schools claimed that if you memorized multiplication tables you didn’t really know them. It’s only gone downhill from there and the upshot is that the kids now know nothing at all.
John says
Conservatives will not work in teaching positions
John Blackman says
you cant fix stupid , you can only medicate it .
Bird of Paradise says
Johnny still cant read but the School allows Johnny to leave the school to protests about the false threat of Global Warming/Climate Change
CowboyUp says
“Culturally responsive teaching,” is stereotyping. This is like that old fax/email funny that had an “inner city math test.” Tyrone questions dealing with cutting dope, how many tricks his hoes had to turn at a certain rate to buy new rims, how many rounds for a drive by, and whatnot. There was one for rednecks (Bubba or little Johnny) and cajuns (Boudreau or Thibodeau) too. Who knew old jokes would become American educational policy?
The more we spend on education, the lower the scores go. And the government always expects the rest of us to change our way of living in a futile attempt to idiotproof the country from the ignorant illogical illiterates they graduate.