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Prof urges math teachers to adopt social justice pedagogies

A professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago is encouraging others to teach “math for social justice” to help fight the “oppressive status quo” in the United States. 

“The Struggle is Pedagogical: Learning To Teach Critical Mathematics” was penned by Professor Eric Gutstein, who writes in a new textbook that the time is nigh for social justice math considering the “racist and sexist billionaire in the White House.” 

Gutstein, who notes that he once taught a “math for social justice” class at the Social Justice High School in Chicago, argues that teaching “critical mathematics” isn’t an option for math teachers, but rather, a “responsibility to our future.”

[RELATED: Teachers learn to use math as Trojan horse for social justice]

“We are in an historical period that challenges us to action in ways that we probably cannot fully understand,” Gutstein asserts. 

“Teaching in critical ways is not optional in the present juncture. We have a responsibility to our future and our planet, to life and all species,” he adds. “What we do in the classroom matters, for today and tomorrow, and the myriad possibilities for resistance and transformation are inextricably and dialectically related to the intensity of the crises we face.”

Reflecting on his longstanding commitment to social justice, Gutstein laments that he has had difficulties converting other math teachers into vectors of “social justice pedagogies” to promote “revolutionary” and “radical” teachings. 

Traditional mathematics education, he complains, “is not sufficient and does not address many issues” necessary to “critical mathematics.” 

“For example, how does one shift contexts from ostensibly apolitical ones to those that are explicitly political (assuming one’s mathematics teaching is contextualized at all)?” he asks. “How does a teacher know what contexts to choose? How to teach about them in ways that bring community wisdom into the experience?”

[RELATED: Texas State seeks math profs with ‘social justice’ commitment]

While Gutstein did not immediately reply to an inquiry on what “critical mathematics” refers to, he did co-author the 2015 book Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Soc

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11036

Prof blames mathematics for global disparities in wealth

A professor at the University of Exeter claims in a new textbook that learning mathematics can cause “collateral damage” to society by training students in "ethics-free thought."

“The Ethics of Mathematics: Is Mathematics Harmful” was written by University of Exeter Professor Paul Ernest, and published as a chapter in a 2018 textbook he edited called The Philosophy of Mathematics Education Today. 

Despite the myriad benefits math offers to society—such as increased scientific knowledge and improved healthcare, allowing us to live longer and happier lives—Ernest warns of three ways mathematics education causes “collateral damage” to society. 

[RELATED: Prof: Algebra, geometry perpetuate white privilege]

First, Ernest asserts that “the nature of pure of mathematics itself leads to styles of thinking that can be damaging when applied beyond mathematics to social and human issues,” since math facilitates “detached” and “calculative” reasoning.

“Reasoning without meanings provides a training in ethics-free thought,” he writes, fretting that this “masculine” paradigm “valorises rules, abstraction, objectification, impersonality, unfeelingness, dispassionate reason, and analysis.” 

Second, he argues that the “applications of mathematics in society can be deleterious to our humanity unless very carefully monitored and checked,” worrying particularly about how math facilitates transactions of money and finance. 

“Money and thus mathematics is the tool for the distribution of wealth,” he states. “It can therefore be argued that as the key underpinning conceptual tool mathematics is implicated in the global disparities in wealth.”

[RELATED: Math is ‘unjust and grounded in discrimination,’ educators moan]

Finally, Ernest worries of the personal impact math has on “less-successful students,” especially women, since math is often perceived as a “masculine” and “difficult” subject. 

“One of the persistent myths of the twentieth century has been that females are ‘naturally’ less well equipped mathematically than males,” Ernest claims, albeit without acknowledging data that would complicate his theory. 

“So two of the detrimental effects of image

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11035

University shells out 122 500 to settle security fee lawsuit

The University of Washington has agreed to pay $122,500 and end the practice of charging security fees to students groups to settle a lawsuit from conservative students.

The lawsuit was filed by Freedom X, a non-profit public interest law firm, on behalf of the University of Washington College Republicans (UWCR), who claim the university “unfairly discriminated” against them and other conservative and right-leaning student groups by charging extra fees for increased security measures during on-campus speaking events.

According to a Freedom X press release issued Monday, the lawsuit was originally filed to prove that the UW policy “unconstitutionally infringed upon the UWCR's First Amendment freedom of speech by making it unaffordable and therefore impractical to host events likely to invite violent protests.”

[RELATED: Cornell students: Security fees used to silence conservatives]

The controversy began in February when UWCR invited Joey Gibson, founder of Patriot Prayer, a conservative Christian organization, to speak on campus. 

UW administrators told the group that it would have to pay $17,000 in security fees because Patriot Prayer has a history of being targeted by Antifa, a militant “anti-fascist” group that has violently protested their speaking events.

FreedomX argued that this unconstitutionally infringed on the group’s freedom of speech “by making it unaffordable and therefore impractical to host events likely to invite violent protests.”

Under the settlement agreement, UW has agreed to stop charging security fees for events entirely. The new policy also specifically states that the university can no longer assess fees “based on the content or viewpoint of a speaker’s speech or based on the community’s reaction or expected reaction to an invited speaker."

In addition to the policy revisions, UW also agreed to pay Freedom X $115,000, plus an additional $7,500 to another law firm that contributed to the proceedings, according to the settlement.

[RELATED: UCLA caves, agrees to pay for security at Shapiro event]

"In this case, the leftwing activists who call themselves antifascists have been taught a lesson in constitutional law and what freedom of speech really looks like," said Bill Becker, general counsel and president of Freedom X. 

"It is fascism—not antifascism—to storm

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11034

Liberal academics blast bill intended to fight anti-Semitism

A committee of self-described “liberal and progressive” academics penned an op-ed last week warning against a new bill designed to protect Jewish students. 

Introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2018 aims to create a “definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education programs or activities.” 

[RELATED: Public university bans Jewish group from campus over fliers]

The bill was first introduced by Scott in November 2016, in the wake of concern over religious and racially motivated hate crimes. Since then, it has gained bipartisan support from senators including Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ron Wyden (D-UT). 

"It is incredibly important that we work together to stamp out anti-Semitism," Sen. Scott said in 2016, referring to a previous version of the bill. “By clarifying exactly what anti-Semitism is, we will leave no question as to what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident."

With the bill now before U.S Congress, however, the Alliance for Academic Freedom—a membership club of roughly 200 professors—is worried that the initiative will “chill” criticism of Israel. 

“We don’t believe that Congress should be in the business of setting forth official definitions of anti-Semitism,” AAF chair Cary Nelson wrote in an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed last week. 

“Sometimes anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism; sometimes it doesn’t,” he continued. “Regardless, Congress has no business deciding when it does or doesn’t.” 

[RELATED: Here’s why David Horowitz didn’t speak at UC-Berkeley]

Nelson’s main concern with the bill appears to stem from fears that its definition of anti-semitism could discourage political speech. 

Indeed, some definitions proposed by the bill do include political criticism, such as applying “double standards” to Israel that are not expected of other countries, but the bill also includes non-political definitions of anti-Semitism. 

“Calling for, aiding, or justifying the the killing or harming of Jews” as well as “denying Israel the right to exist,” would constitute anti-Semitism under the new bill, which refers to the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the U.S. State Department in 2010.

Campus Ref

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11033

Colleges reject BDS demands for 9th straight year

For the ninth year in a row, university administrations have refused to accede to student government resolutions urging divestment from Israeli companies. 

During the 2017-2018 academic year, student governments at 6 universities successfully passed Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions, including at Barnard College, George Washington University, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. 

Student governments at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan-Flint, and University of Oregon also successfully passed resolutions urging the school divest from various Israeli companies, such as Sabra hummus. 

[RELATED: Swarthmore rejects SJP demand to stop selling Sabra hummus]

However, because student governments operate independently from university endowment managers, BDS resolutions have no institutional power unless university officials agree to heed them. And thus far, none have. 

Campus Reform reached out to all six universities where BDS resolutions were passed this past academic year, and all confirmed that they have no plans to divest from Israeli companies or otherwise support the BDS movement.

In April, students at the University of Michigan-Flint passed a resolution urging the school to “divest from all companies that participate in the unethical violation of Palestinian human rights.” 

However, when reached by Campus Reform, a UM-Flint spokesman said protecting the endowment was the school’s first priority. 

“The university’s longstanding policy is to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base our investment decisions solely on financial factors such as risk and return,” the spokesman said, adding that “We do not expect a change in this approach.” 

[RELATED: GW refuses to implement BDS resolution]

At Barnard College, where a similar divestment resolution passed, not only did school officials decline to divest, but they also suggested that the resolution would make Jewish and Zionist students feel unsafe. 

In an open letter dismissing the resolution, Barnard College President Sian Leah Beilock said that “taking an institutional stand amid the complexities of the Mideast conflict would risk chilling campus discourse on a set of issues that members of our community should be able to discuss and debate freely.&rd

Read more: https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11032

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