[Sent to a member of our UC Davis Senate Committee on Admissions and
Enrollment, July 10.]
I'm writing to you due to your membership on the Senate Admissions
Committee, regarding the latest revision of the California Math
Framework (CMF), which I believe would have tragic consequences for
California children.
I am especially alarmed about the impact on Underrepresented Minorities
(URMs), a lifelong passion of mine. I've been active in such issues
since the late 1960s (yes, long ago; I'm 74), when as a college student
I worked on the congressional campaign of Myrlie Evers, a Black woman of
some historical note. I chaired our UCD Senate Committee on Affirmative
Action for a couple of years, and have been involved in numerous
committees and programs aimed at improving conditions for URMs. It thus
pains me to see that the CMF would harm the very students it claims to
want to help.
Please share this message with your committee. Hopefully they will
express similar concerns to BOARS.
1. The CMF committee was egregiously biased, both in membership and
outlook. They were determined to create a "Black and Latino math track"
from the very outset; other than details, their report was a foregone
conclusion. That bias shows itself in various ways.
2. It is very telling that the revision dismisses critics of the
earlier CMF version as "anti-equity." Given my background, I find that
to be both highly offensive and demonstrably false. Hundreds of STEM
professionals have signed petitions objecting to the CMF; to say that
all, or even most, of them are "anti-equity" is outrageous.
3. The CMF committee's bias is also sadly evident in its failure to
correct numerous instances in the earlier report of incorredctly citing
research, factual errors. This was pointed out to the CMF in meticulous
detail by a number of academics, yet those same errors remain in the
revision. This failure cannot be anything but deliberate bias, I regret
to say.
4. Moreover, the committee's bias was also apparent in that the
research that they did cite was heavily based on that of one person,
Professor Boaler. I counted TWENTY-FIVE citations to her research, plus
a number of others citing her institute at Stanford, YouCubed. Again
this is egregious lack of balance, especially since Professor Boaler
stands to gain as her institute sells teacher professional education
courses based on the CMF.
5. The reformers' public relations strategy is well-honed, likely due
to YouCubed or others hiring professional PR firms. Two of the lines
they seem to have found most effective are "Our math curricula are
outdated" and "Not all students need to take calculus." I disagree with
the first claim and find the second highly misleading, but will focus on
the latter. Yes, of course not all children should take calculus, but
it's a Straw Man issue, as the reformers don't stop there; they also say
not all students "need" Algebra 2, and even that they don't "need" to
learn the multiplication tables (a Boaler favorite line).
6. Learning basic number facts, e.g. the multiplication tables, is
where students gain an intuitive feeling for numbers, their sizes and so
on. This intuition is clearly crucial for the study of the reformers'
favorite "alternative math course," data science. How can one study
data science without a feeling for numbers???? At a more basic level,
the CMF would produce graduates who would be tragically prey to being
cheated financially as adults. Say one gets a $529 loan and is paying
$82 in interest each year; the consumer's suspicions should be piqued
without having to use a calculator.
7. Regarding Algebra 2, no, most people don't solve quadratic equations
in their daily lives. But again, that's just a smokescreen. Informed
citizens, for instance, need to understand the slope of a line, which
comes up quite often in charts in our daily lives. This was especially
true during the pandemic, but we see it all the time in e.g. economic
graphs in TV newscasts and so on. And again, learning data science
requires a firm grasp of line slope and related concepts.
8. Yes, line slope is briefly mentioned in Algebra 1, but students don't
internalize a concept from just one or two lectures. Algebra 2 gives
them a full year of dealing with functions. Similarly, development of a
data science course that incorporates a bit of algebra--or as even
proponent R. Gould, author of the LAUSD data science currulum, put it,
"a dash of math"--would be shortchanging our kids.
9. The data science issue seems to be still somewhat on hold, but it's
clear that the reformers will keep pushing for this, and will eventually
succeed if other parties do not intervene. Let me be clear: As a
former statistics professor, I strongly believe that ALL students should
get a firm grounding in data science, but just passive viewing of some
pretty pictures is NOT data science. See above.
10. I am most concerned that the reform would exacerbate the already
existing second-class citizen status of Black and Latino kids. Even the
proponents concede that the so-called alternative math sequences would
be heavily populated by African-American and Latino students. Isn't
this what we as a society have been trying to get away from for the last
say 60 years? The reforms will hurt the very children that they claim to
want to help. I find this amazingly appalling.
As a lifelong Californian, born and raised, I believe this issue to be
extremely important. I hope we UC faculty do not simply stand by and
let it happen.
Norm