Here’s a bit of Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary that I highlighted on Saturday.

→ Make algebra illegal!Progressives have been waging a long battle against accelerated math courses in middle and high school, and they are winning. A lot. First they won San Francisco, where Algebra I was banned in public middle schools. Now this week, they basically got that to be the new California math policy. And it’s been spreading: Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other school districts have followed suit. Basically, white parents are 1) convinced that black kids simply can’t learn algebra and the only possible solution is to ban the class, and 2) alarmed how much better the Asian kids are at this class and worried it might hurt little Miffy’s prospects. For now, just read this great takedown by economics writer Noah Smith: “Refusing to teach kids math will not improve equity.”

Well, of course you have to check the references for yourself, but by and large they do check out. Remember that in America “middle school” is all secondary school from grade 6 up to the beginning of high school, which is grade 9—students from about twelve to fifteen years old. Nellie’s *explanation* for the banning of algebra, however, is undoubtedly correct.

First, let’s check out her three claims, which I’ve put in bold below. Two of them are accurate, and one is semi-accurate:

**1.) San Francisco bans algebra in public middle schools:** This appears to be true: go here or here.

**2.) New California math policy bans algebra in middle schools**: This appears to be questionable. The source above says this (my emphasis):

Critics, including many parents of high-achieving students, worried that students would be prohibited from taking appropriately challenging courses—and that delaying Algebra until 9th grade wouldn’t leave students enough time to take calculus, generally viewed as a prerequisite for competitive colleges, by their final year in high school.

That language has since been revised.

The approved framework still suggests that most students take Algebra I or equivalent courses in 9th grade, through either a traditional pathway or an “integrated” pathway that blends different math topics throughout each year of high school.

But the framework notes that “some students” will be ready to accelerate in 8th grade. It cautions that schools offering Algebra in middle school assess students for readiness and provide options for summer enrichment support that can prepare them to be successful.

This implies that algebra will be *optional* (as other sources say) in the 8th grade, the last year of “middle school” (“junior high school” as mine was called). It’s possible that some schools won’t offer it, though.

HOWEVER, the new California standards don’t appear to *ban* algebra, though I haven’t read them carefully. What they seem to offer up to grade 8 is a form of optional algebra: “algebra lite”. Perhaps that’s why Nellis said “basically” that is the new California math policy. From a FAQ on the state’s website:

Chapter 8 of the draft

Mathematics Frameworknotes that: “Some students will be ready to accelerate into Algebra I or Mathematics I in eighth grade, and, where they are ready to do so successfully, this can support greater access to a broader range of advanced courses for them.”The framework also notes that successful acceleration requires a strong mathematical foundation, and that earlier state requirements that all students take eighth grade Algebra I were not implemented in a manner that proved optimal for all students. It cites research about successful middle school acceleration leading to positive outcomes for achievement and mathematics coursetaking, built on an overhaul of the middle school curriculum to prepare students for Mathematics I in eighth grade, teacher professional development and collaborative planning time, and an extra lab class for any students wanting more help.

To support successful acceleration, the framework also urges, in chapter 8: “For schools that offer an eighth grade Algebra course or a Mathematics I course as an option in lieu of Common Core Math 8, both careful plans for instruction that links to students’ prior course taking and an assessment of readiness should be considered. Such an assessment might be coupled with supplementary or summer courses that provide the kind of support for readiness that Bob Moses’ Algebra project has provided for many years for underrepresented students tackling Algebra.”

**3.) Cambridge, Massachusetts bans algebra in middle schools**. The link above, via the* Boston Globe*, appears to give an accurate account: algebra is banned until high school:

Cambridge Public Schools no longer offers advanced math in middle school, something that could hinder his son Isaac from reaching more advanced classes, like calculus, in high school. So Udengaard is pulling his child, a rising sixth grader, out of the district, weighing whether to homeschool or send him to private school, where he can take algebra 1 in middle school.

Udengaard is one of dozens of parents who recently have publicly voiced frustration with a years-old decision made by Cambridge to remove advanced math classes in grades six to eight. The district’s aim was to reduce disparities between low-income children of color, who weren’t often represented in such courses, and their more affluent peers. But some families and educators argue the decision has had the opposite effect, limiting advanced math to students whose parents can afford to pay for private lessons, like the popular after-school program Russian Math, or find other options for their kids, like Udengaard is doing.

Now getting rid of the algebra option in middle school, which is where I took it, is about the dumbest thing I can imagine, even if you buy the rationale: to “level the playing field of knowledge” so that the variation in math knowledge is reduced among all students, providing a kind of “knowledge equity”. Because minority students don’t do as well in algebra as white students or especially Asian students, by eliminating algebra you reduce the disparity in achievement among groups. But preventing advanced students from taking algebra before high school only punishes those students, including minority students, who have *the ability and desire to handle algebra*. It prevents those students from going on to calculus, and perhaps other advanced math classes, early in high school. The result: a impediment in the way of students who want to and have the ability to go onto STEMM careers. This may be the craziest move I’ve seen done in the name of “equity”: removing the ability of capable students to access classes they want and can handle.

But Noah Smith’s column, cited by Nellie above, gives a much better summary, underlining the sheer lunacy of this policy. Click to read:

An excerpt:

A few days after Armand’s post, the new California Math Framework was adopted. Some of the worst provisions had been thankfully watered down, but the basic strategy of trying to delay the teaching of subjects like algebra remained. It’s a sign that the so-called “progressive” approach to math education championed by people like Stanford’s Jo Boaler has not yet engendered a critical mass of pushback.

And meanwhile, the idea that teaching kids less math will create “equity” has spread far beyond the Golden State. The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts recently removed algebra and all advanced math from its junior high schools, on similar “equity” grounds.

It is difficult to find words to describe how bad this idea is without descending into abject rudeness. The idea that offering children fewer educational resources through the public school system will help the poor kids catch up with rich ones, or help the Black kids catch up with the White and Asian ones, is unsupported by any available evidence of which I am aware. More fundamentally, though, it runs counter to

the whole reason that public schools exist in the first place.The idea behind universal public education is that all children — or almost all, making allowance for those with severe learning disabilities — are fundamentally

educable. It is the idea that there is some set of subjects — reading, writing, basic mathematics, etc. — that essentially all children can learn, if sufficient resources are invested in teaching them.. . . When you ban or discourage the teaching of a subject like algebra in junior high schools, what you are doing is

withdrawing state resourcesfrom public education. There is a thing you could be teaching kids how to do, but instead you are refusing to teach it. In what way is refusing to use state resources to teach children an important skill “progressive”? How would this further the goal of equity?. . .Now imagine what will happen if we ban kids from learning algebra in public junior high schools. The kids who have the most family resources — the rich kids, the kids with educated parents, etc. — will be able to use those resources to compensate for the retreat of the state. Either their parents will teach them algebra at home, or hire tutors, or even withdraw them to private schools. Meanwhile, the kids without family resources will be out of luck; since the state was the only actor who could have taught them algebra in junior high, there’s now simply no one to teach them. The rich kids will learn algebra and the poor kids will not.

That will not be an equitable outcome.

In fact, Smith cites a fairly well-known study from Dallas Texas in which students were all put into honors math classes and were forced to opt out instead of opt in. This policy was implemented in 2019-2020, and the result was a dramatic increase in ethnic diversity in honors math classes in the sixth grade (students about 12 years old). The rise is stunning. This is what we could have if we challenge students rather than accept their deficiencies. But no, that’s not the “progressive” way, which is to dumb down everything to the lowest level.

, , , , How did we end up in a world where “progressive” places like California and Cambridge, Massachusetts believe in teaching children less math via the public school system, while a city in Texas believes in and invests in its disadvantaged kids? What combination of performativity, laziness, and tacit disbelief in human potential made the degradation of public education a “progressive” cause célèbre? I cannot answer this question; all I know is that the “teach less math” approach will work against the cause of equity, while also weakening the human capital of the American workforce in the process.

We created public schools for a reason, and that reason still makes sense. Teach the kids math. They can learn.

I’m not even going to get into the debate about those who suggest that math class could be a way (surprise!) of teaching social justice. That’s also part of the revised California standards, and is summarized in this article by the Sacramento Observer (click to read):

A short excerpt:

The state of California is under scrutiny for its release of a math framework that aims to incorporate “social justice” into mathematics, despite calls from parents for improved education. The California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education (SBE) unveiled the instructional guidance for public school teachers last week.

One crucial section of the framework [

JAC: go to chapter 2 of the link] emphasizes teaching “for equity and engagement” and encourages math educators to adopt a perspective of “teaching toward social justice.” The CDE and SBE suggest that cultivating “culturally responsive” lessons, which highlight the contributions of historically marginalized individuals to mathematics, can help accomplish this goal. The guidance further advocates for avoiding a single-minded focus on one way of thinking or one correct answer.

It’s clear from reading the California standards (especially Chapter 2 above) that “equity” means not just equal opportunity, but *equal outcomes*. I want to take a second to address that because a few readers have maintained that “equity” simply means “equal opportunity”. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need the word “equity,” would we? No, equity is understood, in all the discussions above, to mean *equal outcomes*: children of all ethnic groups should be on par in their math learning.

That this is the standard meaning of equity (i.e., “groups should be represented in a discipline exactly in proportion to their presence in a population”) is instantiated in this well known cartoon:

Now this cartoon has a valid point: “equality” means little if groups start out with two strikes against them. But it’s also clear that “equity” means “equal outcomes” (more boxes) not equal opportunity (everybody gets a box). I’m completely in favor of equality of opportunity for all groups, recognizing at the same time that this is the “hard problem” of society, one that won’t be solved easily. But it has to be solved if you believe in fairness.

I’m not a huge fan of equity, simply because it’s often used as proof of ongoing “systemic racism”, when in fact there are many other causes for unequal representation. Further, it’s the single-minded drive for “equity” that has led to to ridiculous actions like removing algebra from middle school.

Makes what is going on in new Zealand look mild and harmless by comparison!

Unfortunately, that’s not true. New Zealand is way ahead, with its now degraded universities creating equity “quantum physicists”

https://waateanews.com/2023/07/20/matauranga-maori-could-compliment-quantum-physics/

This stuff is not harmless…

I am slowly becoming a hugely fan of equity. Equality of opportunity for all groups is not the “hard problem” of society. Equity is a much more difficult problem. Unless you believe there are significant differences in racial/ethnic abilities to do mathematics, all groups should have comparable results. Eliminating algebra and the other proposed/implemented changes aren’t even window dessings and do nothing to address the underlying causes (whatever they may be) of mathematical disparities.

[In college, i remember being laughed at by sociology students for bringing, from my preceding class, “Basic Algebra I”, as they had taken that in HS.]

Sorry, but it’s not abilities that is the alternative theory, but preferences. Why do you think that there are fewer women in STEM fields in societies with greater gender equality, and more where there is inequality? CHOICE. Your default hypothesis is that all groups have exactly equal desires and preferences, which is manifestly untrue.

Is the fact that most elementary schoolteachers are women a reflection of bigotry against men?

I should have left in the sentence i thought superfluous about this only applying to the subject under discussion, High School Algebra. Regardless of subsequent career choices, different groups should be able to master High School Algebra with comparable (not mathematically equal) results.The desire to be an elementary school teacher should not excuse a woman from doing her HS Algebra homework. In this limited sense, equity is a desired outcome – that all different (racial/ethnic) groups of high school students should have comparable outcomes in the classes thay take.

“. . . being laughed at by sociology students for bringing, from my preceding class, “Basic Algebra I”, as they had taken that in HS.”

Well, that was a revealing test of the humaneness and character of that particular group of adolescent human primate louts and Philistines. No doubt they learned that behavior on their grandmothers’ knees. It’s not so much that they took Algebra I but whether they remembered how to do it.

What if one group is encouraged to study more than another? Should the group not encouraging as much be specifically addressed for that while the group doing well bespecifically praised and made the role model (remember that phrase!) to follow?

Equality is about inputs. Equity is about outcomes. Having lived in a communist country, the moment I started hearing about equity several years ago, I knew things like these standards would start happening….along with the dumbing down occurring in med schools and elsewhere. And of course, the dropping of the SAT, etc etc…..

And it’s not just academics, the dumbing down is society wide.

Equity requires belief in the blank slate, no? Everyone could do equally well, given the same environment and opportunities. A smattering of life experience shows us this isn’t so. In a colour-blind world where we consider only individuals, there would be no surprise that equity is unachievable. The difficulty comes when we introduce the hot potato of race. We know, although we are reluctant to say it out loud, that there are racial differences in IQ. We don’t want to understand why that is, because we are afraid it might not be racism, but genetics. So we pretend it isn’t true.

I think we need to get our order of operations correct. Equality of opportunity is a plenty hard problem for society, and when/if we ever get there, we can address outcomes. I’ll tell you now, though, that even with complete equality of opportunity, we will still see unequal outcomes,

because people have differing abilities! I know, as for all my smarts I struggle with mathematics!Of course I reject the idea of teaching less math as a way to help black kids.

But the real crime here is that pie chart from the DISD. That’s got to be the worst way I’ve ever seen to show how groups differ in their change over time. Lines on a chart, time on the horizontal axis…

Stupid. Some kids are less prepared than others to tackle advanced math in middle school. So let’s eliminate advanced math so that the unprepared students don’t feel bad and so that they can continue to believe (falsely) that they are keeping up. Less math will become less science, less reading and writing—a slippery slope to a lesser country, less able to respond to the challenges of the modern world. Parents who can afford it, of course, will send their kids to private schools, leaving public schools with fewer talented students.

Did I say “stupid?”

Math helps you learn to think, and one thing America needs more of is critical thinkers.

I swear we’re looking at a Harrison Bergeron future, where strong people are shackled to weights and smart people wear thought-disrupting headsets.

“Knowledge equity” –> “Ignorance equity”.

Once you start using words properly the ultra progressive line is not so appealing.

In the cartoon, what I would do as the owner of the ball park is build the fence higher so the freeloaders all have to buy tickets instead. This would also reduce the incentive for freeloaders to steal “boxes”, which in real life are those heavy plastic steel-reinforced crates that wholesalers deliver milk and orange juice to grocery stores in. The store has to pay for any crates that go missing and are not sent back to the warehouse. I mention this because measures to improve equity are not cost-free. Someone has to pay for the boxes and police their distribution. What ifvthe tall guy won’t give up his box because he wants the best possible view?

I’ve seen that cartoon several times. My eyes are drawn much more to the shortest kid who gets some crates so he can see (the right thing to do) than to the tallest kid. I take it that all being at essentially the same head level can be reasonably construed as Algebra I. In my view, the cartoon analogy fails with the tallest kid. Watching baseball is not analogous to learning math beyond Algebra I. Why shouldn’t s/he go on to Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus?

That equality/equity cartoon has always bothered me. The equality side of the cartoon does

notrepresent “equal opportunity”. For it to be equal opportunity there would be a huge pile of boxes that everyone has access to; one then can take what they need to see the game, or they could walk on by and not take any, if they don’t want to watch. IOW, theopportunitypart is missing from that equality cartoon. It is a strawman through and through.Great point. Now I know why that cartoon has bothered me, so thanks for that.

I’m in total agreement that politics (and especially politicians) should stay out of curriculum design. Having said that, there is another area to consider, one with which I am personally familiar, and that is the challenges of small public schools. I went to one (HS graduating class of 83), and the math curriculum was pretty much locked in – general math through eighth grade, followed by Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and (optionally) Trigonometry and Advance Math (essentially pre-Calculus). There simply weren’t the resources to offer Algebra as an option in middle school. That means that are likely large numbers of small town students (in both red and blue states) who really don’t have an option to get to calculus in high school. So, to the extent that math preparation is a factor in college admissions and success, that is a problem that needs to be exist. BTW, the math education I received in Portland, Connecticut, was excellent. In retrospect, it’s biggest weakness was not lack of calculus, but rather the complete absence of statistics.

I agree with most of what’s been posted here, but this commentary is a little out of date, at least for San Francisco. The SF School District now admits that the experiment, delaying all algebra until high school, has failed. The schools superintendent Matt Wayne told the SF Chronicle last month that “… delaying Algebra I hasn’t really achieved greater participation in higher math courses by students of color or improved outcomes overall. The Stanford University study backs that up.”

It’s fairly likely that algebra will be back in SF middle schools by 2024.

Well, thanks for the update, but in fact the situation is still going on for at least another year. And, in the end, the REASON for the experiment is accurately described, except the idea of DELAYING algebra for all to help just students of color is ludicrous.

yes

The “Progressive” attack on math teaching and on advanced classes reflects the notion that

there is no such thing as mathematical ability, exemplified in the quote below.Boaler, in particular, has also advanced bits of pop-neurobiology to suggest that a mysterious “growth mindset” can enable every child to become a math genius, through magical gestures like the California Math Framework. California can look forward to “growth mindset” teaching doing for numeracy at even elementary levels what “whole language” reading instruction did for literacy. But I think the “growth mindset” mumbo-jumbo is just a disguise. At root, Progressives want to reject that there exists any population distribution of abilities, because that is, of course, “inequitable”. The attitude Vonnegut satirized in the Bergeron story keeps reappearing in one guise or another.

“Mathematics, more than any other subject, has the power to crush students’ confidence (Boaler 2009). The reasons are related both to the teaching methods that prevail in U.S. math classrooms and the fixed ideas about mathematics held by the majority of the U.S. population and passed on to our children from birth. One of the most damaging mathematics myths propagated in classrooms and homes is that math is a gift, that some people are naturally good at math and some are not (Boaler 2013a, 2013b). “

Plus, if one has a facility with and enthusiasm for math, in this high-minded (Philistine) Amuricun mass pop culture one is all too easily opened up to being labeled a “nerd.” (In the last few years I’m given to understand that the label “nerd” is now allegedly a compliment.)

A lot of Latin- and Greek-based terms are used in math and science. Why not give students the occasional clue about the meanings of roots and prefixes (and suffixes)? I say that one purpose of pedagogy is to speak as plainly and clearly as possible, to make something as easy as possible to understand. E.g., “parabola.” “Para” means “around” or “close to.” (The root of “parent.”) “Bola” refers to a “mass” of something. (I took a nutrition class, where the term “bolus” was used to describe a mass of masticated food en route to digestion.) Re: “ball,” “boll” (as in cotton “boll”). On a graph I can easily enough envision a curve (quadratic equation) surrounding a mass, an area. It’s basically the same with “perimeter” – “measure around.”

From looking at several textbooks during the last 20 years, it has gotten a little better than in “The Ancient Days” (early 70’s). My high school biology teacher (who had his master’s in radiation biology and had been working on his Ph.D. but decided he wanted to do something in biology more people-interactive, hence teaching), was a real stickler for spelling. You might know the correct species (or class? order? family? genus? I forget.) name of an insect was “diptera” (house fly) or “hymenoptera” (buttefly), but if you spelled the name wrong on a quiz the answer was wrong. Let a biology teacher try being a stickler for spelling in high school today and see what the student/parent response is.) I’m a stickler for spelling. At the same time, I would have found it helpful to know, e.g., that “diptera” means “two wing.” As it was, it was brute force mind-numbing memorization of words the meanings of which I had no clue, and a few years later there came a day in college, in a botany class, when I viscerally refused to further memorize binomial nomenclature.

I don’t altogether agree. ‘Growth mindset’ is not about becoming a genius in maths or anything else.

Growth mindset in fact describes a way of viewing challenges and setbacks. People who have a growth mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren’t set in stone. They think that with work, their skills can improve over time.

This approach has been taken in many UK primary schools, including the one of which I am Chair of Governors. We teach our children that everything is a learning opportunity, including initial failures and setbacks. It works.

Jo Boaler needs to meet Paige Harden, then Jo perhaps needs to go contemplate why her whole career has been a mistake.

“[Polygenic score from genome sequencing] predicts whether or not an individual completes college about as well as his/her family income does.”

But environment and resources are important alongside genetics because, “Compared to disadvantaged schools, advantaged schools buffered students with low polygenic scores from dropping out of math.”

This is important because, “Across all schools, even students with exceptional polygenic scores (top 2%) were unlikely to take the most advanced math classes, suggesting substantial room for improvement in the development of potential STEM talent.”

Takeaway from the article: there is lots of genetic variation among students in math ability; both students with low polygenic scores and high polygenic scores for education ability can benefit from high-quality teaching and resources; but students with high PGS will benefit more and achieve more; assuming this genetic variation does not exist is destructive to both groups of students.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41539-020-0060-2

The Boaler article from which I quoted explains as follows: “New scientific evidence showing the incredible capacity of the brain to change, rewire, and grow in a really short time (Maguire et al. 2006) suggests that

all students can learn mathematics to high levels with good teaching experiences.”(my italics). Later on, it tells us: “Research has recently shown something stunning—when students make a mistake in math, their brain grows, synapses fire, and connections are made; when they do the work correctly, there is no brain growth (Moser et al. 2011).” The article concludes with this modest proclamation: “When our classrooms change—when students are encouraged to believe they can be successful in mathematics and are taught using the high-quality teaching methods they deserve—the landscape of mathematics teaching and learning in the United States will change forever (Boaler & Foster 2014). We will have many more confident and capable mathematics learners, and they will go on to become teachers of mathematics who inspire future generations to further success in science, technology, and mathematics.”I’ve often felt that I never

reallylearn a bit of foreign language until I make a mistake, get corrected, and feel embarrassment. I don’t make that mistake again! And I’ve seen with my daughters that telling them they’re wrong when they’re wrong has led them trying harder – usually successfully – not to be wrong next time. The parenting advice I keep hearing about never criticizing children for their mistakes, because it might hurt their self-esteem, seems harmful to me.In case you’re interested, here’s a cognitive neuroscientist’s critique of Boaler’s interpretation of neuroscience research:

http://www.danielwillingham.com/daniel-willingham-science-and-education-blog/march-13th-2019

That post starts with:

“On February 28th Stanford Professor Jo Boaler and one of her students, Tanya Lamar, published an article that we think is a fine example of how not to draw educational conclusions from neuroscientific data.”

If one of the goals of social justice is to eliminate racism among students so that nobody thinks better or less of someone simply because of the color of their skin or where they were born, then eliminating challenging classes because “there’s a group that might feel bad that you’re going to do better than them “ is counterproductive — because that’s exactly how the kids are going to perceive it. “Black kids are the reason we can’t have nice things.” Getting rid of advanced math courses to advance “equity” entrenches stereotypes and fosters resentment among the students — especially if complaining will be condemned as racist or insufficiently kind.

If one of the goals of Critical Social Justice is to make students focus on race and couple the idea of race with particular aptitudes and abilities, then well played.

I recall from my time at school that the vast majority of my peers would have been delighted to do less maths. It was only weirdos like me that actually liked algebra.

In this domain, unlike most areas and metrics, I think our country/culture is going down the tubes. The DEI cult is so damn destructive, damaging minorities the MOST. (see BLM ethical horrors and statistics grifts). Similarly, gay rights are damaged by trans-maximalism and what Jonathan Kay (Quilette) calls “genderwang”. General approval of same sex marriage has gone from 75% to 65% in the last two years. Maybe FGM on confused teenagers and “trans toddler affirmation” (UNC hospital) have s/t to do with this?

What perplexes me is why older people who aren’t in what I call the “human reproduction business” (i.e. parents) like, say, Pinker, our host PCC(E), myself, actually care about a trajectory we’ll never see the nadir of. But we do. How about that?

Our outrage may come from the fact we are (broadly) lefties who have been betrayed by fanaticism on our own side. Betrayal is an anger inducing thing. Sane conservatives must have felt like this a few years ago when the MAGA train rolled over their town.

Here at WEIT comments, we’re interested in evolution, right? I see the MAGA v. left madness as a *co-evolving* phenomenon, each side impacting and changing the contours of the other side. It has been happening (in our modern era) since that swine Gingritch and proceeded apace with a black president, I am Jazz, Tea Party, etc.

D.A.

NYC

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2020/06/10/photos-of-readers-93/

“Our outrage may come from the fact we are (broadly) lefties who have been betrayed by fanaticism on our own side.”

How do you understand the Biden administration’s embrace of the equity agenda?

Utterly ludicrous!!

Why stop with maths I am sure there are other fields they could have a crack at too? For instance sport, after all fat people deserve to be equitable in all fields and they could call it body positivity improvements. Now they just limit the associated activities and resources. I am certain this principle can apply to all educational units with their usual contorted creative thought processes.

Sadly this type of insanity seems to be an exponential curse for everyone.

” …we are (broadly) lefties who have been betrayed by fanaticism on our own side…” An old story, David. The radical journalist Camille Desmoulins, who publicly opposed Robespierre’s reign of terror, was guillotined for his troubles. TNR under Marty Peretz preserved a humane, center-Left sensibility, long gone. The Euston Manifesto of 2006, asserting a similar point of view in Britain, has rather petered out, although some of its proponents are still proponing. We even have a miniscule Euston-US group, still hanging on.

A June 2023 Gallup Poll says this: “Seventy-one percent of Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal, matching the high Gallup recorded in 2022.” So, at least according to this poll, there has been no diminution in support. Apparently, you are referring to a different poll that reports different results.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/506636/sex-marriage-support-holds-high.aspx

Yet, in a different Gallup Poll, also from June 2023, the percent of people saying that the morality of same sex relations has dropped from 71% to 64% from 2022 to 2023, due mainly to a drop in Republican support.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/507230/fewer-say-sex-relations-morally-acceptable.aspx

So, here we have two polls from the same organization, taken at the same time, with seemingly contradictory results. Perhaps we are to conclude that 7% of the population considers same sex relations as immoral, but still should be legal Or, maybe we should conclude that polls such as these are highly unreliable. My conclusion is that any one poll should not be viewed as necessary reliable. An aggregation of polls asking the same question is more likely to result in accuracy.

Gee, sociologists can’t understand why we should be teaching math when we can be teaching the sociology of math. Defund social sciences and put all of it into math, science, engineering, it, etc. Everything else is just funding far left ideology. Students can pay for their own brainwashing by the authoritarian left, I want no part of it.

Not teaching algebra is, let use not mince our words, profoundly stupid.

As a university student (funded, but a bit underfunded), I gave some private lessons in physics and maths to high school students. In general (9 out of 10) these children doing badly was that they somehow missed the early ‘foundations’. The trick was to find out where they missed out. Most of my students went from below 50% scores to 90+% after four to five lessons, making them understand the basics. Most of my ‘problematic’ students were pretty clever, they just missed the early plot.

It was, of course, not a good ‘business’: as soon as these kids were in the 90+% area my services were not needed anymore. As said, in basically all of my ‘remedial’ teaching of high school students, the trick was was to find out where they lost the thread. I fancy myself I got pretty sharp at that. Which obviously and generally lost me the job (thank you for your service, but now …. etc)

But surely there would no shortage of new students? It sounds as if you could teach the teachers a few useful tricks.

My mother in law was a primary school teacher. She described one pupil saying in reply to a question, “I don’t know, Miss, I’m remedial.” Sounds like he had internalised his status fatally well.

“Because minority students don’t do as well in algebra as white students or especially Asian students.”

In several recent posts, I’ve seen you use language implying that Asians are not minorities or “people of color.”

I think it’s important to use language that acknowledges that they are. DEI cultists hate Asian achievement, because it undermines the narrative that racial achievement gaps in the US are driven by white supremacist systems and structures. We should never pass up the opportunity to remind people that the highest-achieving ethnic groups in our supposedly white-supremacist society are not, in fact, white, and that systemic racism is not the only possible explanation for achievement gaps.

What’s more equitable than universal ignorance? They should create scholarships in the name of Harrison Bergeron.

It seems like a predictable logical procession of Marxist logic. It is virtually impossible to get the kids who do not want to participate or even attend to put in the work to learn algebra or calculus.

So sure, eventually, you get to the point where you have to try to stop the smart or motivated kids from accessing the knowledge that perpetuates the achievement gap.

The obvious result is that the motivated parents will see to it that their kids learn what is needed regardless. The losers will be the (lower or middle class) kids who might have otherwise found inspiration in school and gone on to success.

It seems like a strange class war, with people who fancy themselves aristocrats working with the poor to eliminate the middle class. None of this will adversely affect people who send their kids to private schools or those who would never learn math anyway. Perhaps the middle class are the Kulaks now.

When the educational achievement gap persists or widens, they will try the next thing.

So does this mean there will be no more AP (advanced placement) math classes for Highschoolers in their senior year? I was OK at math, never got below a “B” but it didn’t excite me much. I had two friends, however, who excelled at math; one loved math, the other didn’t love it, but was just naturally brilliant at it. Anyway, both these friends were able to take Algebra in middle school which allowed them to advance to AP pre-calculus as Seniors and thus were eligible to take the AP test and get college credit for pre-calculus. Both of my friends did just that. This is an excellent advantage to take if you have the smarts and dedication to pursue it. Because of AP classes, one of these friends entered college as a sophomore. Why deny this opportunity to young people? What a travesty.

As an aside, I don’t know if AP classes are even offered in HS anymore. I graduated in 1987 and at that time we had AP classes in math, biology, chemistry, foreign language (Spanish, French or German) and English. Colleges probably lost a lot of money because of it!

Yes, AP classes still exist – my niece did them and has just completed her first year of undergraduate studies. She was allowed to skip classes that she already had AP credits for.

Plus one for the UK. We’ll see if an American will chime in with an anecdote. I hope the same holds here. It’s probably a mixed bag. American education is like American healthcare…nice job if you can get it.

Canadian here. Yes AP calculus exists and serves a wide variety of kids from different cultures and ethnicities. My daughter crushed it (5 out of 5 on the

AP exam). She won’t be studying math at university, but got a lot of satisfaction from doing well at it.

Thanks for your story and congratulations to your daughter! That’s a great feat. I’m glad to hear from you and darrelle below that AP classes are still a thing both in Canada and the US.

My kids just graduated from high school a year ago. AP classes were still a big thing and the schools they attended really pushed them. Of course, COVID completely disrupted schooling for 2 of their 3 years of high school.

There was another program that in my opinion was much better than AP classes. Can’t remember the name of it, but it allowed high school kids to go take actual college classes at a state university, for free, instead of high school classes. There was even a program to provide transportation for kids that might need it. If they entered the program as soon as they were eligible it was possible to earn their 2 year degree by the time they graduated high school, for free. These were normal college classes, normal degree programs, normal degrees. Students could take any mix of high school / college classes they wanted, from just one college class and all the rest high school classes to all college classes.

My son participated in that program, though he started one semester later than he could have. Still, he completed 3 semesters on an electrical engineering degree track while he was in high school, about 1/3 of a BS degree. A significantly bigger boost than AP courses and no worries about whether or not a given university will accept the credits.

Wow, that sounds like a great program. I don’t have kids, and all my friends’ kids are adults now, so it’s really hard to judge what American schools are up to. I hear all this doom and gloom, trans issues, book banning, the subject of this post, but then there’s your story which is fantastic- and you live in Florida, which is supposedly ground zero for school shenanigans. I’m confused, but a bit more optimistic. Thanks for the anecdote.

Yeah, definitely a mixed bag. In general schooling in Florida, both public and private, is pretty poor. Plenty of shenanigans, plenty of stupidity. You can still get a good education in the Public school system but you have to be more proactive about it than was necessary when I was growing up.

I struggled with the cartoon showing three figures — infant-child-adult — at a ballgame fence, with “seeing the ballgame” over the fence presumably representing “access to education or income” above an agreed standard or minimum. It seems the graphic would be more clear if differing “ability” and/or “privilege” were represented in the three individuals by something other than age. (As an amateur graphic artist, I understand that finding good representations can sometimes be challenging). However, I agree that lowering standards is not a good path to either equity or equality. That path would seem to encourage a downward spiral of both quality and achievement in society.

The dominant elite ideology was nicely expressed by the California DOE. Quote “We Reject Ideas of Natural Gifts and Talents”. For a (much) longer version of the dominant ideology, see “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction – Resources and guidance to support Black, LatinX, and Multilingual students to thrive in grades 6-8”. The first section is “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction”

Ditching curricula which teach essential skills helps no one, least of all Black kids who don’t have alternative education which their parents can send them to. It just makes education just one more privilege for the wealthy and exacerbates the increasingly critical problem of extreme wealth inequality.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10227727569719625&set=pcb.10227727570719650

Why are we wasting our students’ brains and time on learning algebra? They’ll never use it. We should instead be teaching them how to think about probabilities, very large and very small numbers, and exponential growth and decay.

Don’t they need algebra to understand exponential growth?

One needs calculus to really understand it: dy/dx=y.

We cannot make everyone equally smart, so let’s make everyone equally stupid?! What a crazy idea.