by David Glasser
High school students will learn about the causes of racial inequality and discuss reparations for slavery as part of a new “reparations math” curriculum developed by the creators of the controversial 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project Education Network, overseen by the Pulitzer Center, released the outline for “Reparations Math and Reparations History” on May 8.
“Students apply math skills, research into historical wealth gaps in the U.S., and an analysis of different reparations models to an investigation into whether or not reparations should be paid to the descendents [sic] of enslaved people in the U.S.,” the network’s website states.
The concepts in question are designed to be taught over the course of three to four school weeks, or approximately 15 class periods, according to the proposal.
Objectives include analyzing “the way that the sugar industry, and other industries that grew as a result of slave labor, have led to a wealth gap for African Americans,” and for students to “evaluate whether they think reparations should be paid to descendents [sic] of enslaved people.”
The reparations math curriculum infuses ideology into teaching the subject, said Carol Swain, former professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University and currently a distinguished senior fellow for constitutional studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“It is disheartening to watch the influence the historically inaccurate and flawed 1619 Project is having on American society through seemingly unlimited access to ideologically mainstream media platforms that never allow anyone to question their flawed narratives,” Swain said via email.
“The curriculum materials for math are clearly geared towards politicizing the youngest minds,” said Swain, a black conservative.
The push for reparations math comes one year after the 1619 Project’s release of another controversial proposal in May 2022 that advocated for the creation of a unit in history classes centered around investigating “the wealth theft from Black Americans that has repeatedly occurred from 1619 to the present in order to research and propose a comprehensive solution.”
Educational materials related to the 1619 Project have been widely taught since its release in August 2019. A report by John Murawski of RealClearInvestigations in 2020 noted the 1619 Project curriculum had been adopted in over 3,500 classrooms across all 50 states, mostly through “administrative fiat” rather than a public review process.
“With the imprimatur of the New York Times and its partners, this view has migrated quickly from the news pages to the classroom,” Murawski wrote.
Because the curriculum materials for reparations math are being distributed to educators directly through the Pulitzer Center’s website, it is likely that many teachers will begin using these in classrooms without public approval, Matt Beienburg argued recently in National Review.
“The new ‘Reparations Math’ lessons, which have already been piloted by educators associated with the 1619 Project Education Network, are now primed to follow the same blueprint, saturating schools in red and blue states alike via distribution directly to educators via the Pulitzer’s website,” Beienburg wrote.
Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told The College Fix the curriculum will be used as a tool to convince some children they are victims.
“Students taking Reparations Math learn no opposing viewpoints,” said Rowe, a black conservative and author of “Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power.”
Rowe told The Fix via email the curriculum “is pure indoctrination designed to perpetuate an ideology of black dependency and retribution for historical and presumed present day racial victimization.”
The push for reparations math is not the first attempt by educators to incorporate discussions about slavery and economic inequality within math classes.
In October 2021, a group of professors at Bates College suggested redesigning many math courses in order to focus these around the concepts of “colonialism and privilege.”
The group advocated that an introductory calculus course should “situate race, white supremacy, colonialism, power, and privilege centrally and attend to them throughout the course.”
In July 2021, a Kentucky school district announced it would be hosting a year-long “anti-racism seminar” for math teachers, which was designed to “eliminate curricular violence and innovate mathematics education” through “anti-bias, anti-racist, and racially equitable practices.”
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College Fix contributor David Glasser is a student at Florida State University studying political science and economics
Photo “Teacher and Students” by Andy Barbour.