(CALMATTERS) – California’s fierce debate around educational equity is about to get a lot fiercer.
Today, a state Board of Education commission is set to review public comments responding to a controversial proposal to overhaul California’s math framework for 6.1 million K-12 public school students. The state’s proposed plan — which aims to “counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities” — recommends districts keep all students in the same math classes through sophomore year of high school, rather than allowing some students to start taking advanced math courses in middle school.
It also recommends delaying when students take Algebra 1, encourages students not to rush into calculus and seeks to replace the notion that some students “have natural gifts and talents” with the “recognition that every student is on a growth pathway.”
- Rachael Maves, California Department of Education deputy superintendent for instruction and measurement: “The importance and outcome of math is providing a depth of understanding around mathematical concepts, not necessarily how quickly can we get to the top.”
- Piedmont father Michael Malione: “It sort of forces everyone into one slow lane. The ones who are capable are never going to be able to move fast enough.”
The hearing comes just a few days after the University of California said it would no longer consider SAT and ACT scores in admissions and scholarship decisions — the result of settling a lawsuit from low-income students of color and those with disabilities who argued the standardized tests put them at a disadvantage. And it comes a few months after the state Board of Education unanimously passed a contentious ethnic studies model curriculum that schools can use to develop lesson plans on marginalized communities in California.
Questions of how to achieve equitable educational outcomes — and teach students about equity — remain extremely divisive in California. More than 57% of voters in November opposed a ballot measure that would have reinstated affirmative action and allowed public universities to take race or gender into account when making admissions decisions. And when Orange County’s Los Alamitos Unified School Board voted last week to create a high school ethnic studies elective, it was forced to move the meeting online because heated debate led people to fear for their safety.