Recently, the Oregon Department of Education sent its guidance on A Pathway to Equitable Math to state math teachers. This 82-page instructional toolkit is a framework for “deconstructing racism in mathematics” and “dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms.” It’s a bit strange for me. If there is residual racism in literature, social science, and history, it’s easier to understand. But what is “white supremacy” in math?
The guidance reads: “White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions. … We see white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom can show up when: The focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer … [and] students are required to ‘show their work.’”
I don’t know if this means that when a child learns math, he should strive for the wrong answer. To be honest, I think I am very tolerant and I absolutely support racial equality, but I really can’t understand what Oregon’s math teaching guidelines mean.
According to the guidance, teachers are to “choose problems that have complex, competing, or multiple answers” and ask students to “come up with at least two answers that might solve this problem,” instead of putting their focus on one “right” answer.
How can a math problem have two answers? Math is a purely scientific language because it has clear logic and no vague areas. It represents facts and objective answers. The beauty of math lies in its fairness and objectivity. Math itself has no prejudice, and the right answer will stay true no matter your skin color. But according to the guidelines of the state of Oregon, if there is only one answer to a math question, it’s racism or white supremacy. This logic is a bit weird.
The guidance is to train teachers to “challenge standardized test questions by getting the ‘right’ answer, but justify other answers by unpacking the assumptions that are made in the problem.”
There was a comment online in Chinese: “In future math exams, you won’t be able to ask what one plus one equals. You will only be able to ask what could be the possible answer to one plus one and the student’s race. If it’s answered by a minority and the answer is three, the teacher will comment: ‘Very original, revolutionary, and critical. You get full grades.’”
In George Orwell’s dystopian “1984,” there is also a famous math problem. What is two plus two? After Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith was arrested, one way to train him in jail was to repeatedly tell him that two and two makes five, and for him to repeat it. He wasn’t released until he would say what he was trained to say. Of course, it doesn’t matter what two and two makes. The key goal of the system was for individuals in society not to challenge the powers that be, and that they must believe in it wholeheartedly. So the correct answer is that two plus two is any number that “Big Brother” says it is.
This isn’t the first time that the Oregon Department of Education has proposed these concepts. It’s been for some time that traditional expression and teaching of math have been subject to the label of racism and white supremacy by the American math community. Of course, not in all math circles, but just a few people.
CNN publicly stated with a headline in 2016, “Math is racist: How data is driving inequality.”
In 2017, a joint position statement (pdf) from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and TODOS: Mathematics for ALL stated, “Mathematics teachers and leaders must acknowledge that the current mathematics education system is unjust and grounded in a legacy of institutional discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender.”
The standardized tests have been used as “a gatekeeping tool,” creating social injustice, and therefore, must be adjusted according to students’ ethnic backgrounds, the statement read.
The Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn also introduced its Anti-Racist Math Curriculum last year.
A Fox News article on the guidance reported, “In one section of the ‘Dismantling Racism’ workbook, the argument is made that ‘only white people can be racist in our society, because only white people as a group have that power.’” Accordingly, the Chinese can be considered very lucky because they can’t be “racist.”
But American leftists don’t seem to like the Chinese. When leftists talk about how ethnic minorities encounter inequality, how they are oppressed by white supremacy and racism, the evidence they point to is that ethnic minorities have low incomes. But the Chinese often falsify this statement. The Chinese, or more broadly Asians, are an ethnic minority in the United States but their income is similar to or higher than that of whites. And Asians usually have better math scores. So I suspect that the Asian ethnic group, including the Chinese, has been categorized in the enemy group targeted by American leftists.
In fact, to leftists, race is just a tool.
Fox News also noted that one “Dismantling Racism” workbook seems to have adopted a resolute “anti-capitalist” tone, quoting from the book, “We cannot dismantle racism in a system that exploits people for private profit.”
The workbook continues, “If we want to dismantle racism, then we must build a movement for economic justice.” This is a kind of euphemism for eliminating capitalism and establishing socialism.
Fox News further noted that the guidance featured quotes from Howard Zinn, a self-described socialist, and Che Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary.
In a recent article on American Thinker, author Andrea Widburg wrote, “What binds them [leftists] is the belief that minorities cannot achieve basic education standards and that the only way to achieve the left’s beloved ‘equity’ is to lower the standards or abolish them entirely.”
“Again, the racism is appalling,” Widburg decries. “They never raise people up. They always create ‘equity’ by dumbing everyone down.”
This not only reveals that leftists are actually engaged in racism, but the approach also drastically changes the American teaching system. When China is eager to pursue hard science developments, such as mathematics and engineering, American students are being hypnotized over whether two and two makes four. How is the United States going to compete with China?
In my opinion, this isn’t about math or race but an issue of communism.
People from mainland China who have gone through the Cultural Revolution are no strangers to this form of hypnotism. When I was in middle school, there was an assignment written by a student that was regarded as a model essay by the teacher. But the essay only included one phrase that received praise: “dung aroma.” This was enough for the highest marks. “Smelly dung” was used to describe the bourgeoisie in communist China and dung was important for agricultural production, so the teacher reasoned that the proletariat “should” rate dung as an aroma.
During China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences were mobilized with activities and publications to criticize Einstein, whose theory of relativity didn’t conform to Marx’s theory and Mao Zedong thought. Physics was labeled as “bourgeois physics.” At that time in China, people’s taste in music, aesthetics, and level of education were considered byproducts of class inequalities. Therefore, there was no “objectivity” in science, as science represented a social class.
When the Oregon Department of Education declares that math isn’t limited to one objective answer, this sounds really familiar to an older Chinese person. American leftists have simply replaced “social class” with race and gender.
In my opinion, they are actually just creating chaos and social ethnic conflicts. This is precisely one of the goals of Marxism and communism.
The Communist Manifesto states clearly: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”
Now communist ideologues in the United States are doing exactly the same thing.
Alexander Liao is a journalist who covers international affairs, focused on the United States, China, and Southeast Asia. His work has been published in newspapers and financial magazines in the United States and Hong Kong.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.