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  Case: Math and Social Justice! No No!
Recently, I read a report in a national magazine on income levels of different groups of people in the US. The report especially featured income differences between males, females and different ethnic groups. Some of the statistics were very disturbing. For example, women holding the same job as men with same number of years in the job made considerably less money in most of the states. Differences between ethnic groups were even more disturbing. I decided to use these data in my math class with my 5th graders in a lesson on graphing. The purpose was for the students to be able to interpret graphs and create graphs using the information provided. Students enjoyed the lesson and learned some social justice lessons. Apparently a lot of my students talked to their parents about what they had learned in class when they went home. I received notes from about 10 parents the next day simply indicating that what I taught in my math class would lead to hatred among my students and that I should not be wasting their children’s valuable time. Rather, they suggested, I should teach math with no controversial materials. I completely disagree with them and I plan to use similar materials in my other courses as well. However, my principals asked me to send an explanation to those parents. I know my explanation will not stop the complaints. How should I go about this potentially long battle? Or should I take the short cut simply remove such content from my lessons?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
Keep up the good work! We are being admonished each day to tie in our lessons with real world applications. This is as real as it gets. The information you used is public information that the students can read for themselves. I would send home the explanation along with other examples I have used in the past to show that there is a legitimate pattern of how material is presented. I congratulate you for the fine job you are doing, don't give up.