Proposed academic standards emphasize ‘cultural perspectives’ in math

Five of the 20 proposed standards call for the use of "real-world examples found in historical and contemporary Dakota and Anishinaabe communities."

Minnesota Department of Education/Facebook

For the 2021-22 school year, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has been conducting a review and revision of its K-12 academic standards in mathematics as required by state law.

The math standards committee is comprised of 39 people — including parents, teachers, school administrators, school board members, university faculty, and members of the business community — from “varying perspectives and backgrounds.” One of their most notable revisions emphasizes Native American “representations” in public school math courses.

In a document posted to the MDE’s mathematics webpage, version one of the committee’s new standards mentions the need for “engaging in collaboration with cultural perspectives and traditions to understand mathematical concepts and to value mathematical identities,” which will “allow students to apply mathematical ancestry to making sense of new concepts.”

More specifically, public school mathematics should “make sense and persevere in mathematical problem-solving experiences that are connected to place, story, cultural practices, language, and perspectives relevant to historical and contemporary Dakota and Anishinaabe communities,” the document reads.

Then in its proposed “anchor standards,” a precursor to the drafting of educational “benchmarks,” the math standards committee wants Minnesota public school students to “determine quantities, relationships between quantities, and number systems and their representations found in historical and contemporary Dakota and Anishinaabe communities and in other communities.”

Five of the 20 proposed standards call for the use of “real-world examples found in historical and contemporary Dakota and Anishinaabe communities.” No other “community” is mentioned by name in the document.

The MDE is soliciting feedback on the new standards from the public in an online survey. The math committee began meeting in November 2021 and will meet each month until August 2022.

The state’s academic standards are revised on a 10-year cycle, according to the MDE, which means the standards of one “content area” is given attention per year.