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Seattle Public Schools plans course showing how math is a tool of racial oppression


'Math dictates economic oppression'

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A Seattle Public Schools ethnic studies committee is working on an educational framework that aims to teach students to understand and identify the ways math is connected to racial oppression, according to the Daily Caller.

A rough draft of the K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework, created by the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, details four themes curriculum can focus on: Origins, Identity, and Agency; Power and Oppression; History of Resistance and Liberation; and Reflection and Action.

The first theme, Origins, Identity, and Agency, focuses on the historical beginnings of mathematical knowledge and the cultures, particularly those of color, that contributed to the development of mathematics study.

The Power and Oppression theme is the one that most aggressively frames mathematics as a tool of racial oppression. Here's the definition of that theme:

Power and oppression, as defined by ethnic studies, are the ways in which individuals and groups define mathematical knowledge so as to see "Western" mathematics as the only legitimate expression of mathematical identity and intelligence. This definition of legitimacy is then used to disenfranchise people and communities of color. This erases the historical contributions of people and communities of color.

Some of the learning goals include teaching students to "identify how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color," and to "explain how math dictates economic oppression."

Students will also be taught "how technology and/or science have been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color."

Tracy Castro-Gill, the ethnic studies program manager at Seattle Public Schools, said the district has not been adequately serving minority students, and this framework is an attempt to begin solving that problem.

"The goal is to disrupt the status quo and do something different," Castro-Gill said. "It's important to break down barriers while valuing our differences."

The final draft of the framework is scheduled to be completed by September 2020.

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