Math is not racist. Our public garbage school system is

As awakening has seeped into new subjects in the public school curriculum, even math is not spared. With states like California now trying to eliminate merit-based student tracking in the name of minimizing racial inequality, USA today the quiet part finally asked aloud: is math racist?

Although the newspaper article does not comment on the issue itself, the claim by various public schools that eliminating gifted tracking resulted in better student performance remains unchallenged, opposition from parents of color being buried well below the fold.

Ironically, it’s not the math that’s racist. Instead, it’s the very notion that “mathematics is racist” because it logically follows that racial achievement gaps are not the result of our garbage public school system, but because students of color are simply less able to learn as well as their white counterparts.

Even looking at the raw data, without drawing any extrapolations or explanations, belies the myth that math is racist. Overall, Asian Americans outperform white students in math, despite the fact that the demographic suffers from the worst income inequality in the country.

But the real reason this myth is fictional is that the gap begins to disappear as a student moves away from the traditional public school cartel. A study in the journal Education Next
found that over a 12-year period, black students in charter schools made four times greater progress in math than those in district schools. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a project led by the Department of Education, also found that across subjects, the racial gap between white and black students graduating from high school is significantly smaller in private schools than in public schools. And when black parents take matters into their own hands, the results can be even stronger. A 2015 study determined that homeschooled black students performed 23 percentage points higher in math than their publicly educated counterparts.

Moreover, the whole notion that mathematics is racist ignores the very history of the subject. Although the Greeks gave us Euclidean geometry and some trigonometry, it was literally the advances made by medieval Muslims that brought Europe out of the Dark Ages, giving the West the numerical system and algebra. necessary for the creation of the calculation by Newton and Leibniz. Even today, Terry Tao, a Chinese-American Australian, is widely regarded as one, if not the finest living mathematician.

In my own experience, I’ve taught probably a dozen Latino students in downtown South Central LA and Santa Ana and seen how poorly they were served by their teachers as well as how quickly they adapted and excelled when I started working with them. directly. As an admittedly mediocre maths major, I can personally attest to the fact that I was often the only white woman in my very international classes and that my best math friend and one of the brightest peers with whom I have worked (no, I relied on passing exams) is a black woman.

The only racist thing here is keeping black and brown students stuck in a failing public school system. The problem is not the students. It’s the system.

Jeremy S. McLain