Oregon’s Department of Education is training teachers on how to disrupt “systemic inequities” in mathematics.
“Understanding the systemic inequities of schooling, how to disrupt them, and the nature of and strategies to enact ambitious math instruction are central to being successful with this reform,” a document on math teaching reads. “The modules offer a focus on equitable teaching practices and how to ensure success for all students, especially students of color, emergent bilingual students, and students from families of low income, all of whom have been historically underserved by schooling.”
The document is part of the “Oregon Math Project,” which emphasizes “engineering a more equitable math system.”
“Society views mathematics as a valued and high-status subject,” a slide states. “Schools perpetuate this through the gatekeeping structures which control students’ access to mathematics.”
Another slide titled “Opening reflection on ‘Mathematical Discussions: Revealing Biases,’” asks, “What is one potential bias you think about regularly when you select and sequence students’ ideas for a discussion?”
“Participation in mathematical learning builds students’ identities as capable math learners and fosters a positive self-concept. Students’ cultural and linguistic assets are valued in ways that contribute to a sense of belonging to a community of learners,” a slide reads, explaining the principle of “belonging.”
American Faith reported that the state of California recently adopted new math standards that prioritize “meaning-making” and equity over traditional problem-solving.
According to Education Week, the “1,000-page framework aims to put meaning-making at the center of the math classroom, promoting a focus on problem-solving and applying math knowledge to real-world situations.”
“It also encourages teachers to make math culturally relevant and accessible for all students, especially students of color who have been traditionally marginalized in the subject,” Education Week continued.
The president of the California State Board of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond, said, “The United States has not been teaching math effectively or equitably. We are one of the lower-achieving countries … and California is below the national average in its achievement in mathematics.”
“The process has taken a long time, but it has allowed many voices to be heard and has resulted in a deeper, important understanding, better conversations, and provided insight into the complexities that we all must grapple with as we roll this out,” noted the chair of the curricular and improvement support committee Ellen Barger.