USA Today mocked for asking ‘is math racist’ in headline


USA Today appeared to question whether math was racist in a Twitter-provoking headline from Tuesday.

The article’s headline originally read “Is math racist? As many students of color struggle with the subject, schools are altering instruction — sometimes amid intense debate.” The article focuses on “bolder recommendations to make math more inclusive” that “are blowing up the world of mathematics education.”

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A December report from McKinsey & Company estimated that students fell behind an average of three months on math and one and a half months on reading. However, students of color fell behind even more, the report found.

A December report from McKinsey & Company estimated that students fell behind an average of three months on math and one and a half months on reading. However, students of color fell behind even more, the report found.
(iStock)

After the original headline began to trend on Twitter, the title was later changed to “Is math education racist? Debate rages over changes to how US teaches the subject.” 

Critics called out USA Today for the substance of the article and for changing the headline. 

“Math isn’t racist… but the ‘educators’ who think it needs to be changed and made easier because some black kids struggle with it… ARE,” Washington Times columnist Tim Young tweeted. 

Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian wrote, “No, math is not racist. Major venues like @USATODAY even asking this question is a sign of cultural sickness. Racial disparities can be addressed (in part) by using the best evidence-based pedagogical practices that enable student learning. Please stop suggesting math is racist.”

“The left has become so racist they accuse everyone and everything of being racist including….math,” political commentator Kim Iversen said. 

People talk before the start of a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / GETTY)

People talk before the start of a rally against “critical race theory” (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / GETTY)
(Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Even a few liberals spoke out against the headline for offering a misleading take on the article.

MSNBC contributor Brittany Packnett Cunningham tweeted a lengthy thread including “@USAtoday is wack for writing a headline like ‘is math racist?’ for clicks knowing they’re talking about math *instruction.* And @twitter is wack for just taking it-and lots of clickbait-at face value knowing their power. Mainstream & social media have a responsibility.”

St. Louis, MO. A USA Today newspaper despenser. (Photo by: Newscast/UIG via Getty Images)

St. Louis, MO. A USA Today newspaper despenser. (Photo by: Newscast/UIG via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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The USA Today piece followed criticism against California’s attempts to reform math education through a social justice lens. On Monday, 597 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals signed a letter criticizing the California Department of Education’s (CDE) proposed new mathematics framework.

“Far from being deliberately held back, all students should have the opportunity to be nurtured and challenged to fulfill their potential,” the letter said. “This is not only for their own benefit but also for society and the nation’s economic competitiveness.”

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this article.

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