Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Hundreds of mathematicians, scientists sign open letter against social justice-based curriculum

Hundreds of mathematicians, scientists sign open letter against social justice-based curriculum

More than 700 mathematicians and academics have signed an open letter denouncing the latest “trends” in mathematics education under 12 that proponents believe will close the learning gap and hurt America’s global competitiveness.

“We are writing to express our dismay at the latest trends in mathematics education in schools under 12 in the United States,” reads the Open Letter on Mathematics in Schools to Grade 12, signed by 746 people as of December 6. …

The signatories include several California public school math teachers, numerous professors from UCLA schools, including UC Davis and UC Berkeley, and staff from leading US exact science universities including Stanford, Berkeley, California Institute of Technology Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This comes after the California Department of Education postponed the introduction of a new math system this year, which aims to keep students at the same level, citing equality, following widespread opposition to the curriculum. Opponents say the reforms will scare away students who speak English as a second language.

The letter cites the California Mathematics Framework as of particular concern, describing recent reforms as “well-meaning approaches to reforming math education,” but warns that they could have “unintended consequences.”

While the California Math System may appear to reduce inequality at the high school level, these efforts simply knock out the door to college and ultimately place K-12 public school students at a disadvantage compared to their international peers. and private schools, the letter says.

“This framework aims to narrow the achievement gap by limiting access to advanced math courses for high school students and aspiring high school students,” the open letter said. “Such a reform … could lead to the de facto privatization of the advanced math education system under 12 and disproportionately harm students with fewer resources.”

The letter calls on national, state, and local governments to engage college-level STEM educators and STEM professionals in developing a math and science curriculum for K-12 with three key objectives.

The first goal is that all students, regardless of their background, should have access to the math curriculum “with precision and rigor,” allowing them to earn STEM degrees and pursue careers if they wish.

“All students should not be deliberately held back, they should be able to nurture and be challenged to fulfill their potential,” says the second goal. “This is done not only for their own benefit, but also for society and the country’s economic competitiveness.”

The third goal states that there cannot be a universal approach to mathematics education for schoolchildren under 12 years of age. “Students should be offered several ways and schedules for learning mathematics,” it says.

“Limiting access to advanced math and raising trendy but shallow courses relative to basic skills can cause long-term damage to STEM education in a country and exacerbate inequalities by reducing access to the skills needed for social mobility,” the letter said.

To follow

Isabelle van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter for The Epoch Times. She holds an MA in newspaper journalism from the City University of London.

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