California’s New Old Math

Wall Street Journal:

In San Francisco Monday morning, there’s going to be a demonstration on the steps of City Hall. That may not be surprising, given the protests breaking out all over the country. But the topic is, believe it or not, algebra.

A grassroots alliance of parents, teachers and concerned citizens known as the SF Guardians is gathering to support a ballot measure launched by Supervisor Joel Engardio. The initiative aims to restore eighth-grade algebra in the city’s public schools. Monday’s Rally for Algebra comes on the heels of a victory at the state level.

This victory was the State Board of Education’s new version of the California Mathematics Framework. The key change is that the board dropped what a Berkeley professor called “the last remaining text advocating against 8th grade Algebra I.” This was a line recommending that all students take the same math courses from kindergarten through eighth grade.

The San Francisco Unified School District stopped offering eighth-grade algebra in 2014 in the name of—what else?—equity. The theory was that by making every student study the same curriculum, the minority achievement gap would close.