Home > Essays > Reason’s Un-Reasonable Reading of California’s Proposed Change to K-12 Math Curriculum

Reason’s Un-Reasonable Reading of California’s Proposed Change to K-12 Math Curriculum

May 14, 2021

Reason, the daily online mouthpiece for libertarianism, often uses unreasonable thinking and misleading headlines to reinforce it’s basic message that government’s overreach their mission. the article on a May 4 post is a case in point. It reads: “In the Name of Equity, California Will Discourage Students Who Are Gifted at Math“. The headline insinuates that changes in the curriculum will actively discourage “Students Who Are Gifted an Math”. The article, though, tells a different story. What the PROPOSED K-12 curriculum advocates is the de-tracking of all K-8 students and a re-thinking of the need for calculus, and a rethinking of the “learning faster is learning better” syndrome that dominates the thinking of too many parents, teachers, and Board members.

The educational argument against each of these is based on research, which one would think a magazine called “Reason” would embrace. But when research findings collide with the traditional and groundless “merit-based-on-test-scores” paradigm and the “learning-faster-is-better” paradigm of accelerated learning tradition wins out… especially if the traditional paradigm rewarded the writers and readers of a magazine. And the need to sort and select, which is the root of Reason’s anti-equity thinking, is unnecessary to achieve the goal of offering choices to students, as described in this paragraph:

The essence of good schooling is choice. Individual kids benefit from a wide range of possible educational options. Permitting them to diversify, specialize, and chart their own paths—with helpful input from the adults in their lives—is the course of action that recognizes vast differences in interest and ability. Holding back kids who are gifted at math isn’t equitable: On the contrary, it’s extremely unfair to everyone.

Arguing that equity is crucial does not argue that choice, “the essence of good schooling”, is bad. Those writing a state wide curriculum need to make certain that the message schools are sending to students in not a message that inferiority and superiority are based on the rate of speed that someone moves through a curriculum. If a middle school student loves math, there are many choices that could be offered beyond accelerating through the traditional hierarchical framework. If Reason sees CHOICE as the “essence of good schooling”: it’s critique should be based on offering an enriched set of choices in mathematics in grades K-8 instead of fixating on the inability of “gifted” students to accelerate.

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