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New York Post

 

Math And Marxism

March 20, 2007

By Sol Stern

NYC's Wack-Job Teachers

THERE'S a fifth column in New York City's public schools - radical teachers who openly undermine Schools Chancellor Joel Klein's curriculum mandates and use their classrooms to indoctrinate students in left-wing, anti-American ideology.

One center for this movement is El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn, the city's first "social justice" high school. The school's lead math teacher, Jonathan Osler, is using El Puente as a base from which to organize a three-day conference in April on "Math Education and Social Justice."

Osler offers this urgent reason for the conference: "The systemic and structural oppression of low income and people of color continues to worsen. The number of people in prison continues to grow, as does our unemployment rate . . . However, in math classes around the country, perhaps the best places to study many of these issues, we continue to use curricula and models that lack any real-world - let alone socially relevant - contexts."

Among the speakers slated for the conference is Eric Gutstein, a mathematics-education professor at the University of Illinois and a former Chicago public-school math teacher. Gutstein's book, "Reading and Writing the World with Mathematics: Toward a Pedagogy for Social Justice," combines Marxist pedagogy with real live math lessons.

In it, Gutstein recounts how, on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he was able to convince his 7th-grade mathematics class that the United States was wrong to go to war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. "I told students that none of the hijackers were thought to be Afghan," Gutstein writes. He also announced to the students that he would not "fight against Iraq or Afghanistan . . . because I did not believe in going to war for oil, power and control."

Another of the math conference's "experts" is Cathy Wilkerson, an adjunct professor at the Bank Street College of Education. Her only other credential mentioned in the program is that she was a "member of the Weather Underground of the 60s."

Some credential, indeed. On March 6, 1970, she was in a Manhattan townhouse helping to construct a powerful bomb to be planted at a dance attended by civilians on the Fort Dix, N.J., army base. The bomb went off prematurely, destroying the townhouse and instantly killing three of the bomb makers.

Wilkerson escaped unharmed. After resurfacing years later and serving a year in prison, she became a high-school math teacher and, presumably, developed expertise on how to bring the revolution into the classroom.

The math conference is backed by another "social justice" teachers' group, the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE). I attended an NYCoRE public meeting last October. About 80 public-school teachers gathered on the NYU campus to discuss approaches to social-justice teaching.

The meeting was chaired by Edwin Mayorga, a fourth-grade teacher at PS 87 on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and NYU education professor Bree Pickower. Mayorga urged his fellow teachers to "be political inside the classroom, just as we are outside the classroom. The issues we are up against as we teach for social justice are the mandates of [Mayor] Bloomberg, Klein and No Child Left Behind."

Pickower reminded the teachers of the group's Katrina curriculum, which teachers could use to convince elementary-school students that the hurricane was not really a natural disaster, but an example of endemic American racism. Mayorga described how he had piloted the Katrina curriculum with his fourth graders at PS 87 and pronounced it a big success.

Leaving nothing to chance, the Katrina curriculum provides teachers with classroom prompts designed to illustrate the evils of American capitalism and imperialism. For example, one section of the curriculum is titled, "Two Gulf Wars," and suggests posing the following question to students: "Was the government unable to respond quickly to the crisis on the Gulf Coast because the money and personnel were all being used in Iraq?"

You might think that boasting in public about indoctrinating fourth graders with canned lessons in Marxist agitprop isn't the best way for a public-school teacher to advance either his career or the radical cause. Nor would a former domestic terrorist make the best poster girl for selling the idea of social-justice teaching. Surely, someone with responsibility for safeguarding public education in New York City should have stepped forward by now to say this goes too far, this violates every commonly accepted standard of ethical and professional responsibility for public school teachers. But the city's Department of Education has so far turned a blind eye.

Indeed, the radical teachers are even funded by members of the capitalist class. El Puente was founded with help from uber-capitalist Bill Gates via his education foundation. And the conference on social-justice math has received a grant from an organization called Math for America, headed by billionaire hedge-fund entrepreneur James Simons.

Chancellor Klein has been eloquent about wanting to banish bad teachers from the schools. He could begin building a dossier by attending the radical math conference at El Puente Academy next month.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/seven/03202007/postopinion/opedcolumnists/math_and_marxism_opedcolumnists_sol_stern.htm

 

 
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