July 13, 2021
Open Letter from STEM leaders urges rejection of proposed plan to hobble talented students
Oakland, CA An Open Letter from academics, teachers, and business leaders to Californias education and political leaders says inserting politics and social justice into mathematics curriculum will be damaging to students and society.
And it appears the California State Board of Education has received the message. The board is scheduled at its July 14 meeting to back off from its original schedule to adopt the math curriculum framework in December and postponed that action until May of 2022.
California is on the verge of politicizing K-12 math in a potentially disastrous way. This postponement means the State Board of Education has heard the message loud and clear. STEM leaders dont want California students left behind by introducing politics into the math curriculum, says Independent Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Williamson M. Evers, one of the drafters of the Open Letter.
Californias proposed Mathematics Curriculum Framework is presented, the letter says, as a step toward social justice and racial equity, but its effect would be quite the oppositeto destroy opportunities for all California schoolchildren, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, who always suffer most when schools fail in their teaching mission.
This proposed framework will discourage districts from having advanced classes for gifted students. Its going to block the rise of talented kids to important roles in society, serving us as engineers, getting rockets in the air and getting bridges built properly, says Evers.
The Open Letter urges educators to reject the proposed framework which distracts from actual mathematics by having teachers insert environmental and social justice into the math curriculum and asks teachers to assign studentsas schoolworktasks it says will solve problems that result in social inequalities. The framework is overtly hostile toward Californias previous goal that students receive Algebra I instruction in the eighth grade or earlierdespite the fact that low-income, Black, and Latino students were the greatest beneficiaries of the states pursuit of that goal.
Signatories of the letter include over 460 current and former California professionals in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering and technology, along with venture capitalists, education experts, business executives and educators involved in STEM fields.
I consider myself a social justice warrior. Limiting access to advanced mathematics is not the way to address social inequity, wrote one signee of the Open Letter.
California law requires that all state-funded professional development, all training of teachers in accredited schools of education, and all state-adopted textbooks and teaching materials in K-8 be in line with the official frameworks.
Read the Open Letter and the current list of signatories here.
Credentials: Williamson M. Evers is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Educational Excellence at the Independent Institute. Dr. Evers was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development from 2007 to 2009; and Senior Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings during 2007. He was a Commissioner on the 199698 California State Academic Standards Commission and a member of that Commissions Mathematics and Science Subject Matter Committees. He was also a Commissioner on the 2010 California State Academic Standards Commission.
To interview Williamson Evers contact Robert Ade, [email protected], or (510) 635-3690.
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit Independent.org.