During an interview with ‘FOX & Friends’, Brian Conrad, a math professor at Stanford University, shared his concerns about the new curriculum and how it could potentially impact students pursuing STEM careers in the future.
On Thursday, a Stanford math professor expressed concern over California’s new math curriculum, cautioning that prioritizing “equity” could have negative academic consequences, particularly in light of the learning loss experienced by students due to the pandemic.
During an appearance on “FOX & Friends,” Brian Conrad emphasized the importance of incorporating conventional math curriculum in preparing children for their future careers and college. Conrad, who took the time to read the entire 1,000-page teaching framework, highlighted the significance of this effort.
“There are these things like advocating these alternative math options which are claimed to be pro-equity, but in fact the experience of San Francisco, for example, shows that when you block eighth-grade Algebra one, which was done in the effort to help to improve the demographics and the high school success rates, in fact, it was a complete failure,” Conrad told Brian Kilmeade. “And yet this has been popping up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s being proposed in Connecticut and other places, and this doesn’t work.
“People should stop thinking that this kind of fantasy is going to actually help,” he continued. “Go back to the earlier grades, give teachers better motivation. The core material still remains the essential foundation.”
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In July, the Board of Education for the state gave its approval for a new mathematics framework that emphasizes “equity” and “social justice” for K-12 schools.
The 2023 Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools has been unanimously passed by the board after undergoing numerous revisions and years of development. The framework aims to uphold the state’s dedication to providing equal opportunities and exceptional math education to all students.
The aim of the document, which underwent three revisions and two public hearings, is to structure the teaching of the state’s math standards around key concepts that integrate various math concepts. The document also seeks to make math instruction culturally relevant, empowering, and enable students to see themselves in math-related careers. Additionally, the document aims to dispel myths about who can and cannot learn math to instill confidence in learners.
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According to Conrad, a major issue with the new framework is that it relies on “empty promises” that the updated coursework will effectively equip students who want to pursue science and math-based careers.
Conrad, along with several other quantitative experts, shares the same primary concerns regarding the access to Algebra One in eighth grade. This is because Algebra One is the standard path for students who want to pursue future STEM careers, economics, college degrees, and more.
He continued to highlight the issue of false promises made about certain alternative math options in the later part of high school. Many students are led to believe that these options will pave the way for great careers. However, as designed, many of the most popular courses in this category turn out to be dead ends and do not prepare students for their desired careers.
This week, The Atlantic published an op-ed by a math professor who raised concerns about the potential watering-down of the critical STEM-based curriculum. The professor warned that this could happen in classrooms around the country, even as students continue to face the challenges of virtual learning.
The Nation’s Report Card revealed that a mere 23% of eighth graders in the state demonstrate proficiency in math. However, Conrad believes that providing teachers with “better materials” could play a significant role in improving motivation and driving academic achievement to new heights.
Conrad emphasized that allocating more resources into the elementary grades is crucial to address the disparities that arise later on. He criticized what he calls “fake-equity promises” made by certain high school courses that claim to provide access to data science and computer science. “That’s where the disparities open up,” he said.
He continued by emphasizing the need for greater awareness of the importance of traditional math curriculum as a foundation for college degrees in related fields. He suggested that improving the motivation and context of materials given to teachers could help students see the continued relevance of this curriculum. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of misrepresenting the value of conventional math in many places.
Upon the announcement of the framework, State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond emphasized that it would offer teachers and schools a way to achieve greater excellence with equity. Additionally, the framework highlights the integration of “social justice” into lessons, with the aim of empowering students.