Pittsburgh Schools Train Math Teachers to Avoid the Inherent White Supremacy in Math Classes 

Ground Picture / shutterstock.com
Ground Picture / shutterstock.com

Once again, the school system is challenging math’s inherent racism. How did we get here, and why is math considered “racist?” 

While mathematics itself is not considered inherently racist, discussions around the topic of race and mathematics often revolve around issues such as educational disparities, biases in teaching methodologies, and inequities in access to math education and opportunities. These challenges, liberals argue, lead to a prevalence of “white supremacy” in mathematics. 

Liberals claim that a traditional approach to teaching mathematics often highlights its “Eurocentric or Western-centric” perspective, which they say may not fully represent all cultures’ diverse experiences and contributions. There is an increasing emphasis on incorporating cultural relevance in math education to make it more inclusive and meaningful for students from various backgrounds. 

Critics of traditional mathematics education argue that addressing racism in math involves acknowledging historical and systemic obstacles that have unfairly impacted marginalized communities, particularly communities of color, when it comes to accessing high-quality math education. They point to underfunded schools, resource shortages, and implicit biases contributing to unequal math achievement. These critics advocate for systemic changes to promote equity and inclusivity in math education, ensuring all students have equal opportunities to succeed in mathematics. 

In Pittsburgh, the Public School Board is tackling “white supremacy” in math head-on, hiring a consultancy to assist teachers in avoiding the “perpetuation of racism” in the classroom.
On October 25, the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board voted to allocate $50,000 to Quetzal Education Consulting to address “white supremacy in mathematics” issues within the district.  

Per the board, this initiative will critically examine teaching practices and curriculum designs to ensure that all students feel valued and supported in their mathematics education. The consultancy will help Pittsburgh schools create more “equitable opportunities” for all students to succeed by confronting “systemic biases” and “promoting diversity” in mathematical education. 

Quetzal Education Consulting offers workshops focused on teaching “antiracist math” to educators. Their goal is to equip teachers with the necessary tools to recognize, challenge, and replace classroom and educational practices that perpetuate white supremacy. Through these workshops, the company claims educators learn strategies to foster a “more inclusive and equitable learning environment” in math classrooms. 

For the $50,000, Quetzal Education Consulting will conduct introductory workshops tailored for math teachers to provide educators with “foundational knowledge and strategies” for implementing antiracist practices in mathematics education. Additionally, Quetzal will organize a leadership series explicitly designed for administrative staff. This series will equip school leaders with the necessary skills and insights to support implementing antiracist initiatives within the educational system, or what the firm calls “antiracist math leadership.” 

The workshops allegedly empower teachers to confront oppressive practices in math instruction by prioritizing the wellness of students of color. Through these workshops, educators will have opportunities to cultivate an antiracist approach to math instruction that centers on collaborative pedagogy and instructional strategies. The goal is to foster a learning environment where all students feel valued, supported, and engaged in their mathematical education. The workshops seek to advance equity and social justice within mathematics education by challenging systemic biases and promoting inclusivity. 

Pittsburgh is not the first school system to implement “inclusive math strategies.” Blythewood High School in South Carolina has adopted a policy to eliminate classes that group students based on their academic performance to reduce disparities in math achievement. In Missouri’s Columbia Public Schools, plans are underway to incorporate the personal pronouns “they/them” into math problems and hire certified educators as “math interventionists” to address racism and gender bias in math education. Additionally, the UIC Department of Psychology’s Urban Youth Trauma Center has crafted a guide for combating racism and inequality in school settings.  

And in 2021, Oregon introduced “Pathways to Equitable Math Instruction” to train teachers to tackle racism in math classes. Documents for Oregon’s training manuals include statements like, “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so.” 

This statement and similar ones stir controversy within the scientific community because math is widely regarded as the “purest of all sciences,” as noted by Noelle Sawyer, a co-organizer of “Black in Math Week.” However, some critics argue that implementing anti-racist mathematics, following hot on the heels of Common Core math, is the next logical step towards the dumbing down of America’s youth at the hands of liberals.