California’s Mathematics Frameworks

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On May 19, 2021, the Instructional Quality Commission of the California Department of Education will review comments and discuss the Draft Mathematics Frameworks document. Prior to the meeting, the public has an opportunity to submit comments. Comments should be submitted to the IQC mailbox at: iqc@cde.ca.gov with the following information:

Commenter’s first and last name
Organization affiliation
Agenda item number or general public comment

as well as your recommendations. Comments should be received by Thursday May 13, 2021.

            The agenda is available at https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/cc/cd/may2021iqcagenda.asp

The First Draft

            The introductory chapter of the first draft indicates a major shift in mathematics education in the K-12 system. Mathematics is being redefined as a social empowerment tool. The traditional focus of mathematics as a tool for science and engineering is being removed. I’ll explain.

            The following paragraph is taken from the section titled Mathematics as a Gatekeeper or a Launchpad?

            Mathematics provides a set of lenses that provide important ways to understand many situations and ideas. The ability to use these mathematical lenses flexibly and accurately enables the people of California to apply mathematical understandings to influence their communities and the larger world in important ways. Mathematics continues to play a role in how we conceive of our careers, evidence-based civic discourse and policy-making, and the examination of assumptions and principles underlying action.

            Having responded to the state’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, I am familiar with this social action language. Objectives like “influence their community” and “evidence-based civil discourse and policy-making” are primary classroom outcomes for student activist training in ethnic studies. It’s unfortunate the California Department of Education endorsed that ethnic studies curriculum package. The most radical versions of ethnic studies are now legally protected by the state’s endorsement. The Mathematics Framework appears to be designed to provide data and statistical analysis capabilities for any social data collected by students.

            Compare that paragraph with these from 2013 Mathematics Framework (Dated Nov-2015).

            Mathematics impacts everyday life, future careers, and good citizenship. A solid foundation in mathematics prepares students for future occupations in fields such as business, medicine, science, engineering, and technology. Students’ understanding of probability and the ability to quantify and analyze information enable them to interpret economic data, participate in political discussions, and make wise personal financial decisions. Mathematical modeling is a tool for solving everyday problems, making informed decisions, improving life skills (e.g., logical thinking, reasoning, and problem solving), planning, designing, predicting, and developing financial literacy.

            Success in mathematics education provides students with college and career options and increases prospects for future income. Knowledge and understanding of high school mathematics correlates to access to college, graduation from college, and earnings in the top quartile of income from employment. The value of such preparation promises to be even greater in the future. The National Science Board indicates that the growth of jobs in the mathematics-intensive science and engineering workforce is outpacing overall job growth by a 3-to-1 ratio (National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008).

            Wow! These paragraphs capture the essence of the traditional view of mathematics and, they were written less than ten years ago. It’s amazing how the woke social engineers continue to try to eliminate anything that reminds them of that white culture which has ruined their lives. (I recommend the woke generation step away from all technology since, in truth, that technology is founded on white mathematics. I’m sure the woke social engineers can start from scratch and build better technology.)

            If you’re not convinced of this cultural cleansing in mathematics, let me offer another thought.

            Everyone is familiar with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). This acronym became popular when I was still teaching mathematics at a community college. Of course, not everyone wants to become a scientist, technologist,  engineer, or mathematician. So, the acronym was extended to STEAM, the A standing for Arts. The idea was to open the traditional mathematics curriculum to wider audiences. The mathematics community developed many courses that demand rigor but do not require a calculus prerequisite.

            A review of Chapter One of the new Frameworks identifies STEAM 11 times while STEM is mentioned 0 times. One might think this is a positive move to include more students in mathematics. Unfortunately, even the broader mathematics curriculum is too demanding for California’s diverse student body (i.e., the mathematics is still too white) As a result it is necessary to ensure that STEAM will not be an option for anyone. How?

            First, eliminate education for the gifted students who might be interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Of course, any mathematics in the arts that requires algebra will also be eliminated if the Algebra 1 course is removed from the 8th grade curriculum.

            Second, be sure that the mathematics curriculum is well-controlled by educational psychologists. The variety of mathematics learning disabilities the education community created to expand Accommodations Programs is mind-boggling. For instance, dyscalculia, “a mathematics learning disability that impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate mathematics calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills” [ADDitude Magazine], is officially listed in the DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association).

            Students with learning disabilities have many support programs outside the classroom. Transforming the classroom into a therapy center is a disservice to the students with disabilities and those without disabilities. Maintaining an active, challenging learning environment for all students is more therapeutic, and more socially empowering, than revising the curriculum (by controlling pedagogy) to ensure the pace is “comfortable” for those with disabilities. A controlled environment actually shines a light on the disability students. Stop doing that!

Mathematics Frameworks: Re-write It

Since I’ve waited for the second version of this document before I reviewed the entire thing, I know there will be revisions. I will compare the new version with the current document, as well as the 2013 Frameworks, during my review.

            However, if the other chapters reflect the same bias that this introductory chapter contains, I strongly recommend a complete re-write.

            I am currently reviewing the comments from the First 60-Day Public Review and Comment Period, Attachment 1: Summary Table of Public Input on the Draft Mathematics Framework (DOCX). The comments on Chapter 1: Introduction reveal the mindset of the editors. In that chapter, Most of the recommendations by the public received the following

Not Recommended = CDE recommends that the Math SMC does not include the additions, edits, and/or changes as stated in the public comment
No Motion Recommended = CDE does not have a recommendation
Writers’ Discretion = CDE recommends that the Math SMC permit the Mathematics Framework writers and CDE staff to determine how to include the additions, edits, and/or changes as stated in the public comment

            I do hope the SMC (Mathematics Subject Matter Committee) will review everything in light of all public comments and recommendations before they submit the next Draft of this document. “[T]he IQC is expected to recommend a revised draft for a second public review to take place in June and July, 2021”  [see the agenda at https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/cc/cd/may2021iqcagenda.asp]

A Final Note

            As stated in the document and in the CCSSM document, no-one is required to follow the guidelines or the standards. Just remember, if the CDE approves this Framework, it protects anyone who does implement these guidelines from legal action. Actions by the LEAs (Local Education Agencies) will depend on who controls the LEA.

            It would be very beneficial to California if the K-12 mathematics programs reflected a balanced mathematics curriculum for the state’s intellectually diverse population.

            As always “Good night and good luck” (Edward R. Murrow).

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