Sixth-grade math scores are declining steadily in Newton, Massachusetts. The district can’t explain why. A commentator, Tom Mountain, suggests the new curriculum, known as anti-racist multicultural math, isn’t teaching math.
Between 1999 and 2001, under the direction of Superintendent Young and Assistant Superintendent Wyatt, the math curriculum was redesigned to emphasize “Newton’s commitment to active anti-racist education” for the elementary and middle schools. This meant that no longer were division, multiplication, fractions and decimals the first priority for teaching math.
. . . In 2001 Mr. Young, Mrs. Wyatt and an assortment of other well-paid school administrators, defined the new number-one priority for teaching mathematics, as documented in the curriculum benchmarks, “Respect for Human Differences – students will live out the system wide core of ‘Respect for Human Differences’ by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.” It continues, “Students will: Consistently analyze their experiences and the curriculum for bias and discrimination; Take effective anti-bias action when bias or discrimination is identified; Work with people of different backgrounds and tell how the experience affected them; Demonstrate how their membership in different groups has advantages and disadvantages that affect how they see the world and the way they are perceived by others…”
If I wanted to keep poor, minority kids at the bottom of the social and educational ladder, I could find no better way than to devote class time to teaching them to see prejudice everywhere, rather than teaching them to add, multiply and find the common denominator.