Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Behind 'Anti-Racist' Math Push

Liberal education collective claims asking students to show work is racist

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February 17, 2021

A radical new push to purge math curricula of allegedly racist practices like showing your work and finding the correct answer is bankrolled by one of the nation's most prominent nonprofits: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation is the only donor mentioned on the homepage of A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction, a group of 25 education organizations whose curriculum states that asking students to show their work and find the right answer is an inherently racist practice.

Over the past decade, the Gates Foundation has given upward of $140 million to some of the groups behind Pathway, whose antiracist resources are the basis for a new teacher training course offered by the Oregon Department of Education.

The Education Trust, a California-based group that promoted the September release of Pathway's antiracist "toolkit," has received $86 million from the Gates Foundation, including a $3.6 million grant awarded in June.

Teach Plus, another group dedicated to creating an antiracist culture in K-12 schools, has received more than $27 million from the Gates Foundation. The group's board members include former Democratic congressman George Miller and Obama-era secretary of education John King Jr.—who is also the president of The Education Trust. 

WestEd, a nonprofit committed to dismantling "systemic barriers" in schools, has received more than $35 million from the Gates Foundation since 2009. UnboundEd, an organization dedicated to helping teachers "disrupt systemic racism" in the classroom, has received nearly $14 million in grants from the Gates Foundation since 2015.

The Gates Foundation has given smaller sums to other groups behind the Pathway, the latest attempt to bring critical race theory—the idea that American political and economic institutions are inherently racist—into schools.

Unique about Pathway is its focus on mathematics. The group's first guidebook, "Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction," asks teachers to observe how math "is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views." Worksheets included in the toolkit ask teachers to create a list of antiracist qualities to cultivate during the school year.

The program also sets monthly goals. In November, educators must review how they "authentically" include minority and multilingual students in math class. In May, teachers will evaluate how they "dismantle power structures in the classroom."

The Pathway has released a total of five guidebooks designed to help middle school math teachers. These guidebooks ask teachers to honor when students use incorrect problem-solving strategies and identify "white supremacist practices" within the education system as the cause of minority students' "underachievement."

The Gates Foundation declined the Washington Free Beacon's request for comment. The organization's K-12 education grantmaking "supports schools in their work to improve student outcomes," particularly for minority and low-income students, according to its website. 

School districts and state education departments across the country have taken steps to weave critical race theory into K-12 curricula in the wake of last summer's racial justice protests.

The North Carolina Board of Education earlier this month approved an updated history curriculum that would teach second graders "how various indigenous, religious, gender, and racial groups advocate for freedom and equality." Fourth-grade students will learn how "revolution, reform, and resistance" shaped North Carolina.

Published under: Education