Dumbing Down California’s Education System

Dumbing Down California’s Education System

Jeffrey R. Smith

Williamson Evers correctly warns in the Wall Street Journal — “California Leftists Try to Cancel Math Class” — that the proposed math curriculum framework aims low. When California aims to lower the bar, the students mistakenly see it as a limbo stick and try to go even lower.

As a high school math teacher with 30 years in the public-school charade, I am certain the new framework is not for the sake of some ‘social justice’ abstraction. It is a cover-up to dupe a fatuous public.

California has targeted, but never closed, its yawning achievement gap. Charter schools and private schools, to the embarrassment of public schools, have done much better at narrowing the gap. To make the problem appear to go away, California has retreated from competency tests, standardized tests, and its own high school exit exam.

The California University system is dropping the SAT and the ACT from its admissions criteria. There is only one thing worse than a lack of accountability in education: accountability. Now California is desperate to take the starch out of math.

The objectivity of math is equated with a “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom.” The focus on “getting the right answer,” and teaching math in a “linear fashion,” are deemed oppressive. Even the expectation of participation in math class is deemed oppressive.

Presently I have classes of 26 students each. In any Zoom session only three or four students respond to questions; even simple, non-math questions like, “Are you there?” or “Can you hear me?” or “What color is the red triangle?” If students respond to my questions — correctly or incorrectly — I acknowledge their active participation in an email sent to all my students and their parents. Twice now, the administration has asked that I not give participation “shout-outs” to engaged, cooperative students. Apparently, it is a micro-aggression directed at non-participating students.

If California succeeds in dumbing down its math curriculum, from where will it recruit for Silicon Valley? Virginia? Taking the rigor out of math and removing all the metrics and indices, under the rubric of fighting racism, is just a ruse to hoodwink the public in to believing it is money is well spent.

Perhaps if we stop measuring rain fall, reservoir levels and the depth of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the drought will also go away.

Jeffrey R Smith, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Buffalo, M.Ed. Boston University, is also a Lieutenant Commander/Naval Aviator, U.S. Navy Retired.