One of my friends just forwarded to me an article about math classes being used for social indoctrination -- in (contain your surprise) Massachusetts!

The "anti-racist education" program in place at Newton Public Schools in Newton, Mass., a wealthy, liberal niche of the Bay State, has angered some parents who believe the school district is more concerned about political correctness than teaching math skills.

According to benchmarks for middle school education, the top objective for the district's math teachers is to teach "respect for human differences." The objective is for students to "live out the system-wide core value of 'respect for human differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors."

Priority No. 2 is where the basics come in, which is "problem solving and representation — students will build new mathematical knowledge as they use a variety of techniques to investigate and represent solutions to problems."

Call me old fashioned, but shouldn't math classes be teaching math? Are math teachers even qualified to opine professionally on racism, much less to be put in charge of teaching kids about it? Further, should any public institution be spending our time and money indoctinating kids with leftist clap-trap?

Some parents say their students not only are in desperate need of math help but that some students also don't know the basics of U.S. history and that antiracist policies are getting in the way of teaching the basics.

"The 'antiracist' and, actually, 'anti-American' curriculum permeates the school environment," Lillian Benson, whose children, ages 8 and 11, attend the district's schools, told in an e-mail.

"My children do not know Christopher Columbus, except that he was a racist who caused the death of many innocents or the founders of the nation. They have hardly heard of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln even though we live in the area that began it all. What they do know about is the wonders of Ghana, Mexico and China," she said.

That's no surpise to me -- I went to public schools. Some are better than others, and I actually learned quite a bit... on those days that weren't a part of some special month or another in which we were forced to focus on some useless politically correct niche.

Part of the problem is that many teachers apparently don't want to teach in their subject area, they want to "mold" their students and nonsense like that. They think their job is to "prepare the next generation for the future" or whatever, when really all parents want them to do is teach kids how to add and subtract. Society puts teachers on pedestals, and after a while the teachers begin to think they're as special and important as everyone says. In reality, teaching is easy if you know your subject matter, and teachers need to be brought back down to earth rather than continually glorified. Maybe then they'd stick to what they know, rather than taking it upon themselves to impose their own social framework on our kids.

"How many more years of declining scores will it take for the school committee and state officials to put a stop to this educational malpractice on schoolchildren?" asked Peter Murphy, a New York education consultant. "Values education should be done without gutting the state’s math standards."

Exactly right. Anti-racism won't help a kid get a job, but algebra will. Focusing on the former while neglecting the latter is a grievous mistake that will permanently disadvantage the students on whom it is inflicted. Leave social and political preferences to the parents.

Too bad I didn't see this article yesterday, in time for the Carnival of Education.

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