The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is now “trying to undo racism in mathematics” by providing training for “ethnomathematics” because, among other things, white supremacy manifests itself in the focus on finding the right answer.

In promoting the “Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course,” the ODE states that “white supremacy culture” allegedly “infiltrates math classrooms” and goes so far as to contend there shouldn't be wrong or right answers — or that students “show their work.”

In other words, 2 plus 2 shouldn't equal 4. It instructs teachers of our children to “identify and challenge the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist and racist views.”

Makes sense, right?

We don't want people to think and calculate with precision — a habit that might make for a better, safer world for everyone. After all, their logic holds, we shouldn't have accurate calculations for things like the construction of buildings and roads, bank accounts, budgets, medical procedures or whatnot; that's “systematically racist” and “inequitable.”

In any event, most of the numbers I've calculated over my years have been black (or red). I'd say the evidence is overwhelming that white numbers are underrepresented and marginalized in the field. And I feel the pain they suffer.

Keith Gallagher


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