One West Virginia District tried to introduce a program focusing on Black kids to Jefferson County. The program “Black Math Genius” has received backlash as white parents are calling it “racist” and “segregationist.” The program has now been paused and is the topic of debate for whether it embodies critical race theory (CRT).
Assata Moore, the woman who introduced “Black Math Genius” to the county, said the program has nothing to do with CRT and everything to do with tailoring the way mathematics is taught to Black children.
According to FOX 5, Moore said students will go over the contributions Africans have made to mathematics. They will review the history of the Pythagorean Theorem and its connection to Black mathematicians in Egypt. Active math education, such as studying Pi by going outside to measure the circumference of a tree trunk will be included. Other topics they will cover are Crypto Currency and programming language.
And while the focus of this program is on Black students, Moore and other school officials confirmed: “Black Math Genius” is open to all students.
Yet, parents in Jefferson County called the program an act of discrimination. On June 28th, a meeting was held where several parents shared their criticism of the program.
One woman said, “Black Math Genius is part of critical race theory. And it’s meant to divide the people. As you can see, we’re divided. If you give special privileges to a group of people because of their skin color, it’s discrimination.”
In response, Moore told FOX 5, “…when you attach the ‘Black’ to it, that is what, without them even knowing what the program is about, threw it into the category of critical race theory … I didn’t start looking into critical race theory until my program was accused of critical race theory and when I looked it up it’s like, where did they get this from? I mean, this is absolutely nothing about what’s in the program.”
Since this meeting, the program has come to a halt. The Jefferson County spokesperson Hans Fogle said in a statement, “We are currently engaged in a series of equity engagement forums with our community to get their feedback. That is our focus at this time. We will be sharing the results of those meetings once they have concluded.”
Jefferson County shared their latest data (2018-2019) that shows “Black or African American students have a 25% proficiency rating in math. The pass rates of white students and low SES students have risen by 13% and 14% respectively while the pass rates of Black students have only risen by 5%. In the category of “Exceeds Standards” (highest performing level of math performance), black students have risen by only 1%.” This is not just the case in this West Virginia county.
The data itself shows the need for the program.
Moore agrees, “What’s important is to get our students engaged because mathematics is the backbone, is the basis for stem fields. And stem is what’s driving the future.”