Jo Boaler of Stanford is leading the math-instruction revolution. Critics say her claims don’t always add up.

Stephanie Lee

Last April, Jelani Nelson woke up to a jarring email from Jo Boaler, a Stanford University professor and the nation’s most prominent expert on math education. The two had never met. “As you know,” she began, “I am one of the authors of the proposed mathematics framework and I know you are working to oppose it.”

That “framework” is a policy document that will shape how math is taught in California and beyond, and Nelson, a computer-science professor at the University of California at Berkeley, had major problems with it — and with Boaler, too. He’d seen a series of tweets critical of her, and reposted one of them with his own scathing commentary. Now, Boaler was confronting him.