*School officials in Jefferson County, West Virginia decided to pause a math program designed to engage Black students because white parents labeled it “racist,” “segregationist” and a part of “critical race theory” during a school board meeting, reports DC’s FOX5.
“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,” said a woman who identified herself a grandparent at the June 28th Jefferson County regular meeting. She and others also questioned the program’s $3.9 million price tag.
“Your marketing of this program has created unnecessary divisions whether intentional or not. My questions are why do we need a summer math program? And why aren’t the children learning during the school year?” said another woman at the same meeting.
Assata Moore, the woman behind the “Black Math Genius” program, told FOX 5 it’s supposed to be a four-week, in-person math program that would focus on the Black child through the way the math is taught. Moore, who is based in Chicago, told FOX 5 she was approached by county administrators wanting to address low math performance scores, especially among Black students. FOX 5 was directly contacted by a parent who said she signed her children up, wanting them to get the help and education she feels they deserve.
Calling the parental reaction “ignorance,” she told FOX 5 via Zoom, “… 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. It’s about mathematics. It’s about the African contributions mathematics. We’re discussing crypto-currency, algorithm and its use in google searches. It’s advanced level mathematics.”
For example, Moore said they go over the history of the Pythagorean Theorem and its connection to Black mathematicians in Egypt. There would be more active math education, such as going outside an measuring a tree truck to study Pi. She also said they would discuss Crypto Currency and programming language – lessons that she described as forward thinking.
“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,” said Moore.
While the focus of this program is on Black students, Moore and another official affirmed “Black Math Genius” was open to all students.
She said they had been working on the program for a while and were preparing for 200 seats but only around 60 students-signed up. Of the around 60 students, Moore said that included two White students. The rest were said to be Black or mixed.