Algebra for None, Injustice for All
San Francisco's failed experiment in low expectations
Apologies to my generous paid subscribers, who’ve been patiently waiting for some new content just for you. Work new and old has kept me busy these last couple of weeks. As always when I take even a brief rest here, I’m overwhelmed by all the things I could write about, but today I decided to pick something I’ve seen almost no one write about, because it’s such a small story in the grand scheme. And yet, it hit a nerve for me, because it’s about math teaching, and I happen to be a math teacher.
This story begins in 2015, when the San Francisco Unified School District decided to delay all accelerated middle and high school math options for its students, as well as postponing algebra from 8th grade to 9th grade. As explained here, this meant scrapping the initiative which had originally been touted under the inclusive, progressive-sounding title of “Algebra For All,” where 8th-graders of all skill levels took Algebra together. Apparently, the next rung on the upward climb to Progress was “Algebra For None.” Who would have thought?
Naturally, no upward progress was made. Quite the reverse.
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