A Jew, a BIPOC, some AAPIs, and a colonialist walk into a bar. That’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s what California’s students could be seeing on math word problems in the future. The laudable goal of the math recommendations are to close the racial gap in math achievement. But is math really the right class to teach social justice? And at a moment when partisan politics is laser-focused on schools and school boards, is there any way that X will equal something other infinite culture wars? NYT (Gift Article): California Tries to Close the Gap in Math, but Sets Off a Backlash. “The draft rejected the idea of naturally gifted children, recommended against shifting certain students into accelerated courses in middle school and tried to promote high-level math courses that could serve as alternatives to calculus, like data science or statistics. The draft also suggested that math should not be colorblind and that teachers could use lessons to explore social justice — for example, by looking out for gender stereotypes in word problems, or applying math concepts to topics like immigration or inequality … An open letter signed by hundreds of Californians working in science and technology described the draft as ‘an endless river of new pedagogical fads that effectively distort and displace actual math.'” (I’m a humanities major out of UC Berkeley, so displacing actual math with paragraphs about social justice plays right into my strengths. Will it do the same for my home state? I’ll let you do the math.)

+ I’m on the board of 826 Valencia. And our fearless leader Bita Nazarian recently explained why one of the best ways to improve literacy is to focus on writing.