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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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2007: Not adding up

2007: 11% of black, 15% of Latino and 41% of white 8th-graders perform at grade level in math. *   

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 1982: Bob Moses, former member of SNCC and one of the core organizers of Freedom Summer, founds the Algebra Project, which uses math as an organizing tool for better public education for all students through socially relevant teaching, supporting school sites and community organizing. As it spreads nationally, it also supports the founding of the Young People's Project, a math literacy and social change organization.
  • 2007: The Youth Justice Coalition founds Free LA High School as a community center, school and organizing program for advocating for the rights of youth targeted by the criminal justice system. The school accepts many students who can't get into any other schools in LA.
  • 2011: Thousands of parents, youth and educators involved in Dignity in Schools take part in student-led actions and events in 28 cities to draw attention to the national school pushout (school-to-prison pipeline) trend in public education.
  • 2011: The Step to College Program at Mandela High School in East Oakland begins work on the creation of an independent community school, Roses in Concrete. Nearly all the students go on to four-year colleges, and many return as teachers, volunteers and donors.

Discussion Questions:
  • How is math viewed in your family? What is expected of you in regards to math?
  • How does low achievement in math limit one's options for employment, analysis of the world and critical thinking?
  • Use something in your life and experience to explain a math concept. (Bob Moses first taught positive and negative numbers to his daughter using the subway line as the metaphor).
  • What teacher have you learned the most with? What did they do differently than other teachers? What environment did you learn most in? What was different about this environment?

Additional Resources:
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