As teachers and activists push for high schools to drop their calculus courses in the name of “equity,” conservative Republicans are sounding the alarm. According to The 74, a nonprofit news organization covering education, 76% of schools with “low student of color enrollment” offered calculus while only 52% of schools with a high proportion of students of color offered the advanced math course. This means that minority and low-income students are not getting the same access to calculus that other students have, giving them a disadvantage in the college admissions process.
Teachers, Activists Push School Districts To Drop Calculus In The Name Of Equity https://t.co/EzYKKeUybn
— US Burning (@UsBurning) March 13, 2023
But instead of trying to make calculus more accessible to these students, some school districts are taking the opposite approach. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Patrick Henry High School, and Culver City High School have all stopped offering accelerated courses in an effort to increase equity. Joanna Schaenman, a Culver City parent, expressed her concerns about this approach to The Wall Street Journal: “We really feel equity means offering opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study.”
Equitable access to advanced courses remains out of reach for many students, particularly students of color and students from low-income families. This LPI report analyzes #CRDC data on access to advanced math and science courses. @ISAachieves https://t.co/QOeKIJdZ9X
— Learning Policy Institute (@LPI_Learning) March 9, 2023
School Districts Are Dropping Honors Classes In The Name Of Equity https://t.co/mSixzGoy8k
— US Burning (@UsBurning) February 17, 2023
This is a dangerous and misguided approach to equity. It is true that minority and low-income students need more access to calculus, but taking away the opportunity for other students to take the course is not the answer. It is unfair and sends the wrong message to students who are working hard to excel in their studies.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Pathways Program” is a much better solution. The program donated $1.1 billion over the next four years to increase the number of teachers and improve other mathematics courses so that calculus is not the default class for students. This will provide more access to calculus for minority and low-income students without taking away the opportunity for other students to take the course.
It is important that we strive for equity in our educational system, but it should not come at the expense of other students. We should be encouraging all students to reach their full potential, not limiting their opportunities. The Pathways Program is a great example of how we can achieve equity without sacrificing excellence.