Odds & Ends: Culture Wars, Math, And The Six Degrees Of Checker Finn

This Linda Jacobson article in The 74 about math and anti-racism is a good look at an issue that is more complicated than some of the rhetoric around it. Seems like there is probably wider agreement on points like this,

“You and I were taught that everything happened in Greece,” said Kristopher Childs, director of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit focusing on academic success for historically underserved students. “Every culture and civilization contributed to mathematics. Students need to know that.”

…than some of the methods questions, that sound a lot like long running debates about teaching math just attached to the hot issues and vocabulary of our day. I remain concerned that most of our debates about math for older students turn on our inability get serious about teaching math to younger students. And it might be that math is more important than ever as the country drowns in a sea of disinformation.

From the front lines of the culture wars, here’s an interesting take on CRT politics. The parallel with Common Core I might be more apt to draw is less about the culture war aspect and more about the nature and architecture of the American education system. Many, arguably most, of the examples of CRT excess are actually just poorly done and clumsy DEI “trainings.” (If you’ve seen DEI workshops or experiences done well then these are particularly painful.) But clumsiness and unevenness is what’s going to happen in a system with more than 100k schools, spread across more than 12k functioning school districts, and millions of teachers. Especially when curriculum and instructional materials remain an afterthought and something is suddenly becoming widespread.

Here’s Checker Finn reflecting on Fordham at 25. There was a time not that long ago when a not insignificant percentage of people you ran into in ed policy in D.C. had roots in either Checker’s orbit or at the AFT, and in some cases both.