Tennessee Top Ed Official Pushed California’s ‘Math Is Racist’ Plan

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A new top official at the Tennessee Department of Education advocated previously in California for “math equity,” the concept that working to answer correctly is an example of racism and white supremacy.

The Tennessee Department of Education hired Rachael Maves in September for Chief of Preparation and Performance. Before taking on this role, Maves served as Deputy Superintendent for Instruction and Measurement for the California Department of Education, the Tennessee Conservative noted Wednesday.

During her time in California, Maves promoted that state’s controversial revision of its mathematics framework, one that seeks to train K-12 math teachers that “white supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in May, Maves supported the California department’s recommendation to push Algebra 1 out of middle school and delay access to that course until high school, which would eliminate the tracking of students into accelerated math programs in middle school.

“We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” the California Math Framework draft asserts.

President of the California Board of Education Linda Darling-Hammond denied the delay would lead to fewer students taking calculus in high school.

“It does present the research that the rush to calculus without the depth of understanding is not beneficial to long-term math (achievement),” she told the Chronicle.

Maves also defended the delay in teaching higher-level math.

“Some of this is based on a misunderstanding and misconception of what we’re trying to accomplish here, which pushes against traditional notions and thinking,” she said. “The importance and outcome of math is providing a depth of understanding around mathematical concepts, not necessarily how quickly can we get to the top.”

As Breitbart News reported in August, a California teachers’ workbook titled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction” states:

In order to embody antiracist math education, teachers must engage in critical praxis that interrogates the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy culture in their own classrooms, and develop a plan toward antiracist math education to address issues of equity for Black, Latinx, and multilingual students.

Ze’ev Wurman, a research fellow at the Independent Institute and a former senior policy advisor at the U.S. Education Department, wrote in August the California Mathematics Framework [CMF] draft “promotes the idea that, in general, students should not be accelerated based on their actual performance in math.”

Wurman elaborated:

The research support for this argument is very weak so to bolster it, the draft of CMF uses the case study of San Francisco Unified District (SFUSD) that implemented an essentially uniform assignment of math courses to all its students since 2015 and claims an improvement in overall math achievement.

Wurman analyzed the data from the SFUSD and ultimately determined that, “since the program change more students take the easier statistics and fewer take the more demanding calculus as their culminating high school math course.”

“SFUSD does not provide a breakdown of student score on the AP [Advanced Placement] exams so it is impossible to judge whether the scores on them have improved or deteriorated since the program change,” he wrote.

After a review of California’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing, which is aligned with the Common Core State Standards, Wurman found the claims of success of delaying Algebra I until high school “do not survive scrutiny and are the result of changing passing criteria, likely driven by the wish for the new program to look successful, rather than on any actual student success.”

He noted further:

Yet even if such a miraculous improvement were true, it would mean little since it certainly did not translate into actual performance improvement in higher level mathematics. All SFUSD reported as “success” was prior to the first students under the new program reaching their senior year, and did not include their actual performance on objective/external assessment beyond reporting enrollment.

Richard Bernstein also wrote at RealClear Investigations in July, the research cited in the California Math Framework draft claiming math is “racist” revealed results that have actually been misrepresented by the woke activists behind the framework.

The framework, which could be adopted in 2022, makes the claim its assertions are based on “the latest, seemingly unimpeachable findings of advanced social science research,” Bernstein observed, elaborating:

Phrases such as “researchers found,” “the research shows” and the “research is clear” are sprinkled through the Framework, which states unequivocally: “The research is clear that all students are capable of becoming powerful mathematics learners and users.” If true, this evidence would provide a powerful rationale for adopting the Framework’s proposals, which, given California’s size and prestige, is commonly seen as a model for other states.

Bernstein found, however, much of the research cited is actually not “clear” at all. In fact, he described it as “actually pretty murky, hotly disputed, or contradicted by other research, misleadingly stretched to cover situations for which it was not intended, or, in some instances, just plain wrong.”

Now that Maves has a top post in the Tennessee Department of Education, some parents are concerned, reports the Tennessee Conservative:

One Tennessee parent learned of this fact and sent a letter to Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) stating, “Why did the Tennessee Department of Education hire Rachael Maves from California when she proposed eliminating advanced math due to inequities?  This is anti-American and anti-God.. in that He gave us gifts and talents, and we need to stop Californicating our Tennessee with her and Penny Schwinn who hired her.  Please address this during the Special Session.”

State Sen. Bowling reportedly replied she was shocked by the information about Maves and would forward it to the chairmen of several committees with legislative oversight.

Bowling added she would also forward the information to Gov. Bill Lee’s (R) staff who could flag it for Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn.

Lee signed a bill into law in May banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools throughout the state.

“This topic was not included in the call for the Special Session,” Bowling reportedly said. “We can address it administratively immediately. We passed legislation last session prohibiting any of the tenets of CRT. This is unacceptable and will be addressed.”

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