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Rethinking Mathematics

Race, Retrenchment, and the Reform of School Mathematics

By William Tate


  1. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro (1933; reprint, Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1990), p. 4.

  2. Andrew C. Porter, "A Curriculum Out of Balance: The Case of Elementary School Mathematics," Educational Researcher, June/July 1989, pp. 9-15; and Susan Stodolsky, The Subject Matters: Classroom Activity in Mathematics and Social Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

  3. James T. Fey, Mathematics Teaching Today: Perspectives from Three National Surveys (Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1981).

  4. Martin L. Johnson, "Blacks in Mathematics: A Status Report." Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, vol. 15. 1984, pp. 145-53; and George M. A. Stanic, "Social Inequality, Cultural Discontinuity, and Equity in School Mathematics." Peabody Journal of Education, vol. 66, 1991, pp. 57-71.

  5. Science and Engineering Indicators (Washington, D.C.: National Science Board, 1991), pp. 28, 32; and Charles Piller, "Separate Realities." Macworld, September 1992, pp. 218-30.

  6. Jeannie Oakes, Multiplying Inequalities: The Effects of Race, Social Class, and Tracking on Opportunities to Learn Mathematics and Science (Santa Monica. Calif.: RAND Corporation, 1990), pp. 23-24,45.

  7. John A. Dossey et al., The Mathematics Report Card: Are We Measuring Up? (Princeton. N.J.: Educational Testing Service, 1988).

  8. Walter G. Secada, "Race, Ethnicity, Social Class, Language, and Achievement in Mathematics," in Douglas A. Grouws, ed., Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (New York: Macmillan, 1992), p. 630.

  9. Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (Reston. Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989); and Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991).

  10. Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics, pp. 132, 144.

  11. See, for example, George Ghevarughese Joseph, "Foundations of Eurocentrism in Mathematics," Race & Class, vol. 28, 1987, pp. 13-28; Michael W. Apple, "Do the Standards Go Far Enough? Power, Policy, and Practice in Mathematics Education," Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, vol. 23, 1992, pp. 412-31; and S. E. Anderson, "World Math Curriculum: Fighting Eurocentrism in Mathematics," Journal of Negro Education, vol. 59, 1990, pp. 348-59.

  12. Joseph, pp. 13-14.

  13. For a discussion of this trend, see Walter G. Secada, "Agenda Setting, Enlightened Self-interest, and Equity in Mathematics Education." Peabody journal of Education, vol. 66, 1991, pp. 22-56.

  14. In the National Interests: The Federal Government in the Reform of K-12 Math and Science Education (New York Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government. September 1991), p. 15.

  15. Michael W. Apple, Teachers and Texts: A Political Economy of Class and Gender Relations in Education (New York: Routledge, 1988), p. 133.

  16. Larry Cuban, "The 'At-Risk' Label and the Problem of Urban School Reform," Phi Delta Kappan, June 1989, p. 780.

  17. Molefi K. Asante, "The Afrocentric Idea in Education," Journal of Negro Education, vol. 60, 1991, p. 179.

  18. See, for example, Gloria Ladson-Billings, "Making Math Meaningful in Cultural Contexts," in Walter G. Secada, Elizabeth Fennema, and Lisa Byrd, eds., New Directions for Equity in Mathematics Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

  19. Here and elsewhere, I have changed names to protect the identity of students and teachers.

  20. Joyce King, "Dysconcious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers," Journal of Negro Education, vol. 15, 1991, pp. 145-53; and Charles Lawrence, "The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning with Unconscious Racism," Stanford Law Review, vol. 39, 1987, pp. 317-88.

  21. "With Innovation, They Grasp Math and More in W. Phila.," Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 October 1991, p. 7- A: "Math: The Great Equalizer," Black Issues in Higher Education, 20 May 1993, p. 41, and Edward Silver and Barbara Scott Nelson, "The QUASAR Project: Equity Concerns Meet Mathematics Education Reform in the Middle School," in Secada, Fennema, and Byrd, op. cit.

  22. William A. Darity and Samuel L. Myers, "The Problem of Family Structure, Earnings, Inequality, and the Marginalization of Black Men," unpublished manuscript prepared for the Department of Afro-American Studies and the Department of Economies, University of Maryland, College Park, 1989.

  23. Lee V. Stiff and William B. Harvey, "On the Education of Black Children in Mathematics," Journal of Black Studies, vol. 19, 1988, pp. 190-203.

  24. Johnson, p. 149.

  25. For further discussion, see William F. Tate, "From Inner City to Ivory Tower: Does My Voice Matter in the Academy?," Urban Education, in press.

  26. William B. Harvey, "The Education System and Black Mental Health," Journal of Negro Education, vol. 53, 1984, p. 446.

  27. I suggest that this approach could be multicultural. Every child (regardless of race, culture, religion, sex or ability) can be centered in the process of knowledge acquisition.

  28. Gloria Ladson Billings, "Like Lightning in a Bottle: Attempting to Capture the Pedagogical Excellence of Successful Teachers of Black Students," Qualitative Studies in Education, vol. 3, 1990, pp. 335-44.

  29. Paul Ernest, The Philosophy of Mathematics Education (Bristol, Pa.: Falmer Press, 1991), pp. 138-39.

  30. See, for example, Lauren B. Resnick, Education and learning to Think (Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1987); and James Hiebert and Thomas P. Carpenter, "Learning and Teaching with Understanding," in Grouws, pp. 79-80.

  31. John Seely Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid, "Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning," Educational Researcher, January/ February 1989, pp. 32-42.

  32. The city in which this school is located has designated zones where the sale of alcoholic beverages is legal.

  33. Mathematizing is the use of numbers to model or approximate the relationship between elements of a social or physical situation.

  34. See, for example, Sharon M. Lee, "Racial Classification in the U.S. Census: 1890-1990," Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 16, 1993, pp. 75-94.

  35. Michael W. Apple, Ideology and Curriculum (Boston: Routledge and Kegan, 1979).

  36. "Software for Hard Issues," Newsweek, 28 April 1992, p. 55.

  37. Gail E. Thomas, "Participation and Degree Attainment of African-American and Latino Students in Graduate Education Relative to Other Racial and Ethnic Groups: An Update from the Office of Civi1 Rights Data," Harvard Educational Review, vol. 62, 1997, pp 45-65.

  38. Alba Thompson, "Teachers' Beliefs and Conceptions: A Synthesis of the Research," in Grouws, pp 127-46.

  39. Woodson, pp 144-45.