California Still Determining How to Roll out New Controversial Math Framework

California Still Determining How to Roll out New Controversial Math Framework

Elementary aged students work on their math homework in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on May 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte


Updated: 12/30/2023


California education officials are still determining how to help school districts implement new controversial math guidelines approved this year.
In July, the California Department of Education adopted a new mathematics framework that sparked controversy for shifting its emphasis to “big ideas” and prioritizing equity over algebra and geometry.
The state Board of Education approved the new, 1,000-page framework after it underwent three revisions over four years based on public feedback.
The new framework structures math standards around “big ideas” rather than isolated math concepts, according to education board officials.
It also focuses on problem-solving and applying math to everyday scenarios and prioritizes allowing minority students to “see themselves” represented in curriculum by making math lessons “culturally relevant and empowering.”
But state officials and education experts are still trying to figure out how to roll out the new framework.
Framework rollouts aren’t usually state-funded, and district officials are typically on their own to fund professional development, though districts often collaborate with third-party education experts to do so, Mike Torres director of curriculum frameworks and instructional resources for the Department of Education, told education news outlet EdSource.
“This situation with the mathematics framework is not different,” Torres said. “There isn’t any specific funding where we can pay experts to help us participate in webinars … or put on events.”
The state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, said in October he intends to introduce legislation during the next legislative cycle in 2025–26 that would provide up to $500 million for math and reading teachers’ professional development.
The changes to the framework come as two-thirds of the state’s 13.5 million children failed to meet national math and science standards in 2022—while an average of 85 percent of black and Latino students failed to meet math standards, according to a 2023 report by the Oakland, California, based education nonprofit Children Now.
However, critics say the changes take away from students’ actual math learning.
In July 2021, more than 1,200 individuals—including math professors, business professionals, and venture capitalists—signed an open letter from the nonprofit research organization Independent Institute to Gov. Gavin Newsom expressing concerns about equity and social justice elements in an earlier version of the framework.
And an Oakland-based private math tutor and former teacher Michael Malione, who founded in opposition to the framework, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that focusing on “big ideas” and “growth mindset” in math lessons harms the state’s most vulnerable students and the most advanced students alike.
“Ensuring students have ‘authentic experiences’ and representation in lessons … doesn’t lead to best outcomes and harms Black and brown students,” Mr. Malione said.

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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