A Modest Proposal to Save American Education

Despite socially progressive efforts to bring about true educational justice, the American school system continues to produce inequality. It could be said that more is to be done. We can and must insist that more money be spent on the education of our children and, more important, that an equal amount of money be spent on each child. We can, despite the cries of the bigots, return to busing to insure proper racial and class representation, expanding if necessary to the use of trains and airplanes. We can crack down on those school evaders who wish to use their own money to send their children to private schools that oppressively refuse to seek equality. All of these are necessary and should be implemented at once, but they are mere palliatives. What is needed is a truly radical solution. Such a final solution has been discovered, and we shall implement it through the Committee to Liberate America from Mathematics.

We believe that mathematics is the single greatest force standing in the way of true educational justice. Consider these facts:

Though mathematical "truth," like all knowledge, is socially constructed, the White Male Establishment has been more successful here than anywhere else in promoting the idea of objective validity. A question like "What is 2 + 3" is said to have one "right" answer and many "wrong" answers, instead of a number of different answers. Thus, even in the earliest grades, the teachers have the chance to stigmatize some students, and reward others (often white males) merely because the latter have given the socially approved "right" answer.

And this is only the beginning. Once "objective truth" has been accepted in one area, it will expand to others. First we accept a single "truth" (which of course is that of the White Male Establishment) in mathematics, then in science, then in the social sciences and the arts. It is like a row of dominoes.

Furthermore, this insistence on a single "right" way is, as we know, typical of white male thinking. It is called, simply, "logic," but it should be called "white male logic," or better yet, "dead white male logic." By valorizing it and calling it mathematical "truth," we give white males yet another unfair advantage. Nor is this the only way in which mathematics is oppressive. It is, in fact, inherently racist, sexist, and classist because it promotes concepts like "greater than" or "less than." These concepts are essential to the white male "science" of statistics, which gives us such elitist dogmas as the belief that half of the students in a school have to be in the "lower 50%." We should not be surprised that all studies which attempt to prove the inherently racist, sexist, and classist doctrine of inherited intelligence use statistics in some form. Ironically enough, statistics are even used to support the pernicious and false doctrine that males are inherently better at mathematics.

Wherever there is white male domination, there you will find mathematics. It is an intimate part of the so-called science used by white male technocrats to strip-mine, tear down rain forests, and build weapons of war.

Take away mathematics and we rob these oppressors of their greatest source of strength.