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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs


Brian Conrad, a math professor and director of undergraduate math education at Stanford, is guilty of "academic and professional misconduct" for pointing out errors in the California math framework, claims a letter to the university provost. The letter signed by Duane Habecker, a math administrator, charges that Conrad has "ventured into stochastic terrorism" -- encouraging violence -- for criticizing the work of Jo Boaler, a Stanford education professor who was one of the authors of the framework.

"Balderdash," responds Conrad.

Conrad closely read the second draft of California's mathematics framework, which advises schools on how to teach. In the public comments section, he listed many false or misleading claims about supporting research, most of which were corrected in the final draft.

Conrad did not single out Boaler or any other framework author at any time, he writes. He did not author a complaint accusing her of research misconduct, nor did he know of the complaint before it was made public.

He did criticize the framework's approach in The Atlantic, writing,

"The document cited research that hadn’t been peer-reviewed; justified sweeping generalizations by referencing small, tightly focused studies or even unrelated research; and described some papers as reaching nearly the opposite conclusions from what they actually say."

The Habecker letter closely tracks The Truth Behind the Politicized Attacks on the California Math Framework, a recent commentary in Medium by Sunil Singh, a Canadian math educator, and eight others, including Habecker. Singh attacks Conrad for "a relentless and misogynistic tirade of harassment" at Boaler.

The Medium story and the Habecker complaint are "dense with factual inaccuracies," responds Conrad.  

Among other other things, the complaint challenges 11 research citations Conrad criticized as inaccurate in his comments on the second draft. Nine of those were changed in the final draft. The letter charges him with misquoting the citations because theh complainant is looking at the final draft, "after my input had been incorporated!," writes Conrad.

The complaint charges that Conrad targeted "research showing the potential of all students to learn."

He worries that the framework is promoting "math lite" courses, such as "data science," that will create a STEM off-ramp for disadvantaged students.

"Armed with trendy buzzwords and false promises of greater equity, California is promoting an approach to math instruction that’s likely to reduce opportunities for disadvantaged students — in the state and wherever else educators follow the state’s lead," Conrad writes in The Atlantic.

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3 opmerkingen

08 mei

Yeah the "A" in STEAM is pretty silly. Could just as easily be "accounting" for all the sense it makes.

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
10 mei
Reageren op

It's an excuse for districts to continue to employ their established art teachers, instead of hiring more physics instructors.


08 mei

While there is such a thing as Data Science, what most students learn is how to make "good job" graphs of carefully curated data. Or learn "data cleaning," the scut work of the information economy. Neither skill set is on a path to meaningful professional development.

The very acronym "STEM" is a clever fraud, with the "M" slipped in gratuitously, just to make it mellifluous. Of course the more ambitious fraudsters have progressed to "STEAM," in order to co-op the Arts (architecture, auto shop, aviation, apiary, archeology, anthropology, American history, antiquarian?) community.

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