The Threat of Woke Math to National Security

'Social justice warriors,' according to Larry Summers, are to blame for China's competitive advantage.

The emergence of "antiracist" math courses, according to a leading Democratic economist, is a national security concern.

Former President Barack Obama's National Economic Council was directed by Harvard economist Larry Summers, shared a letter on Monday signed by almost 600 academics that condemns the rise of woke math initiatives in K-12 schools. The letter says the initiatives have devalued foundational math courses such as algebra and limited advanced math courses "to reduce achievement gaps." Summers called rigorous math instruction "an economic and a national security imperative," noting that "in China, math standards are not subject to continued erosion by social justice warriors who can't themselves define exponential growth or solve quadratic equations."

Larry Summers reflects on matters economic, educational, and political |  Harvard Magazine
Larry Summers

Radical education activists seek to do rid of supposedly racist activities like showcasing your work and getting the proper answer from math courses. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Democratic contributors have helped to spread this now-popular practice in math instruction. A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction, a charity that urges instructors to observe how math "is utilized to maintain capitalist, imperialist, and racist beliefs," was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Proponents of "antiracist" curricula often push to eliminate advanced math classes in order to reduce achievement gaps for underprivileged students. The coalition behind the open letter, k12mathmatters, says this misguided approach diminishes "access to skills needed for social mobility."

"While the U.S. K-12 system has much to improve, the current trends will instead take us further back," the letter reads. "Reducing access to advanced mathematics and elevating trendy but shallow courses over foundational skills would cause lasting damage to STEM education in the country and exacerbate inequality by diminishing access to the skills needed for social mobility."

Adrian Mims, one of the letter's signatories, told the Free Beacon that educators should focus on elevating students to advanced math classes, not trying to "lower the ceiling."

"If you do that, it's going to eliminate a lot of postsecondary opportunities for them," Mims told the Free Beacon.

The letter points out that discontinuing advanced math classes will disproportionately impact public school kids, putting them at a disadvantage against private school pupils. It also warns that such revisions will erode students' knowledge of mathematics, algebra, and logical reasoning at a time when such abilities "are probably even more vital for today's major issues than they were in the Sputnik period."

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