I naively believed that STEM would be spared from the ideological takeover. I was wrong, says Princeton professor Sergiu Klainerman.
I am not at all qualified to introduce today’s guest writer, Sergiu Klainerman.
I barely eked out a C+ in high school calculus, while Sergiu is a professor of mathematics at Princeton who specializes in the mathematical theory of black holes. He’s been a MacArthur fellow, a Guggenheim fellow and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences
Mathematics allowed a young Sergiu, who came of age in Ceausescu’s Romania, to escape to a world where right and wrong couldn’t be fudged, and, ultimately, to a life of freedom in the United States. Without math, his life quite literally would not have been possible.
In the piece below he explains how activists are destroying his discipline in the name of progress. Worse, they are robbing poor children of the opportunity to raise themselves up by mastering it — with untold effects on all of us.
Math, with its seemingly unbiased tools — 2 + 2 always equals 4 — has presented a problem for an ideological movement that sees any inequality of outcome as evidence of systemic bias. The problem cannot be that some kids are better at math, or that some teachers are better at teaching it. Like so much else, the basic woke argument against math is that it is inherently racist and needs to be made antiracist. That is accomplished by undermining the notion of right and wrong answers, by getting rid of the expectation that students show their work, by referring to mathematical testing tools as racist, and by doing away with accelerated math classes.
Tell you what, if you like affirmative action programs, let an affirmative action surgeon do your brain surgery, or an affirmative action engineer shore up the bridge you drive over every day to work. From Fred Reed at unz.com:
Headline “Fairfax school board eliminates admissions test at Thomas Jefferson High School” probably America’s most demanding school for science and technology.
Oh god, Oh god. Who is on the school board? Predictably education majors, the dimmest, lowest SAT-scoring dregs of the professional classes, the horror of smart students subjected to their grade-school mentalities. But not just ed majors. Probably also psychologists, sociologists, bored housewives, and liberal-artsy painfully virtuous men alight with Civic Consciousness. Oh god.
TJ, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, is a jewel in the country’s collapsing system of education, a bright light in the growing darkness. Its kids are scary smart, among the best of young minds, going on to CalTech, MIT, Harvard. This year 132 were National Merit Semi-finalists, putting them in the upper one half of one percent. Entry was, until now, by a demanding test of intelligence, though we must not so describe it as that would be racist, and manifest White Privilege, even though most of the students are Asian. Youngsters at this level need a rich academic diet to avoid boredom, to include among other things serious mathematics. Which, I will bet, not one of the earnest, uplift espousing, self-consciously good, droopy-IQed of the Board has the slightest grasp. How much is three factorial? Hint: It’s a number between five and seven. You may have five guesses.
TJ was a haven for the smart. But now Fairfax County is going to drop the intelligence test—though, remember—we must never call it an intelligence test. Why drop the test? Do you even ask? It is because not enough blacks get in. The purpose of a high-end school is to admit blacks.
Kids in Detroit can’t read or do math, and don’t think it’s because not enough money is being spent in that fiscally challenged city. Take note of the per student spending numbers in the article. The national numbers are better, but are still a disgrace. From Terence P. Jeffrey from cnsnews.com:
In the Detroit public school district, 96 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in mathematics and 93 percent are not proficient in reading.
That is according to the results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics.
Only 4 percent of Detroit public school eighth graders are proficient or better in math and only 7 percent in reading. This is despite the fact that in the 2011-2012 school year—the latest for which the Department of Education has reported the financial data—the Detroit public schools had “total expenditures” of $18,361 per student and “current expenditures” of $13,330 per student.
According to data published by the Detroit Public Schools, the school district’s operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014 amounted to approximately $14,743 per student.
Nationwide, only 33 percent of public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading in 2015 and only 32 percent scored proficient or better in mathematics.
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