Education Letter to the Editor

No Need to Dumb Down The Math Curriculum

May 03, 2005 1 min read

To the Editor:

Blacks don’t do as well as whites in math because they are disproportionately enrolled in schools that have adopted “integrated math.” The notion that children will do better in mathematics if they “delve into the deeper concepts” (“Math Emerges as Big Hurdle for Teenagers,” March 23, 2005) is hogwash.

Here in Minneapolis, most African-Americans flunk the 8th grade basic-skills math test. That’s because the integrated-math curriculum in use at their schools does not enable these students to learn traditional algorithms. They lack basic mathematical skills.

There is one Minneapolis school, however, that does do quite well. Almost all the students at the Ascension School are students of color, yet 90 percent of them recently passed the 8th grade math test. Just 28 percent of African-American counterparts at public schools passed. The difference? The kids at Ascension use traditional Saxon mathematics, which enables them to acquire the mathematics skills they need to perform well in high school and in college. The kids in the public schools are stuck on integrated math, dealing with “concepts.”

Black kids have every bit as much ability as white kids. For some reason, someone has decided to dumb down the curriculum for them. It has the unfortunate result of driving their performance even lower.

Gregory J. Pulles

Plymouth, Minn.