Paper: Too Much ‘Whiteness’ in Math Education

Everything is racist, according to the Left.

In case you were unaware, dear TruthRevolt reader, math is racist.

A lengthy article in The Atlantic, no less, points to a paper by Rutgers associate math professor Dan Battey whose theory suggests “whiteness” is to blame for the disadvantages aimed at minorities in math class.

Battey defines whiteness as “the ideology that maintains white supremacy, valuing one racial group over others.” He believes this "white supremacy" rules American classrooms and leaves blacks, Latinos, and indigenous students disenfranchised mathematically, according to The Atlantic.

Math teachers and researchers are responsible for “perpetuating racism in schools,” Battey says, because they report on how differently race groups perform in math. The Atlantic states, “[C]onstantly reading and hearing about underperforming black, Latino, and indigenous students begins to embed itself into how math teachers view these students, attributing achievement differences to their innate ability to succeed in math.”

The reason whites and Asians are at the top of the class, the paper argues, is because teachers automatically assume those students to be more proficient at math based on stereotypes. And because those same teachers assume people with brown skin are worse at math, they automatically teach them at a lower level.

From the report:

Another instance of whiteness is seen in how math “achievement gaps” are commonly defined. Even though research shows Asian students on average outperform white students in math, this underachievement receives scant attention—and when discussed, is seldom characterized in a negative light. “A lot of times in whiteness literature, we talk about the refusal to pathologize whiteness, and this is a case,” Battey explained. “For African Americans, for Native Americans, for Latinos in mathematics, we attribute something internally to the child or internally to the culture that's making them achieve lower. We don’t do that for white students … producing some deficit idea about who whites are.”

In practice, whiteness can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, Battey said, where some children receive rote, basic mathematics—counting apples and brownies, and completing worksheets—while other children are given rich problem-solving tasks. “You could just reinforce that certain students are bad at math by giving them poorer and poorer quality of instruction,” he said, “and they’ll start to look poorer and poorer at math [by default].”

As a result, Battey adds, students of color, but not Asians, will start saying things like, “I don’t care about math.” Or, “Math is not important to me.”

And if that wasn't headache-inducing enough, listen to what another math professor, Erika Bullock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in response to Battey’s paper:

 “We usually don’t talk about math education from an institutional perspective. We tend to very much focus at the classroom-teacher-student level,” she said. “We don’t zoom out very much to talk about it institutionally.”

While acknowledging its contributions, Bullock still questioned a core principle: In scrutinizing whiteness, had the paper skirted the idea of anti-blackness? By definition, she said, whiteness and anti-blackness might appear to mean the same thing. But the terms can mask distinctions, she noted. To illustrate, Bullock applied a critical race-theory lens to the paper’s findings—for example, how the conclusions on racial stereotypes might be viewed differently if the measure wasn’t the dominant positioning of white students (whiteness) but how the test is racially biased (anti-blackness). “I think it centers white [people] in a way, even as you’re thinking about interrogating whiteness,” she said. “A framework for whiteness necessitates a discussion of anti-blackness. To operate in anti-blackness [is] a very different thing.”

Does it occur to anyone else that these leftist educators are just making this stuff up as they go? Whatever happened to teaching 2+2=4 and moving on? Oh, yeah, Common Core.

Photo credit: BryanAlexander via / CC BY