Education /

Michigan School Board Axes Honors Math To Be More 'Inclusive'

Outraged parents have started a petition to try and overturn the plan

The Troy School District Board of Education is removing honors math classes from middle school students in a bid to promote inclusion and diversity.

But, a petition to stop the plan from moving forward has been started by angered parents who say killing advanced math programs will hurt minority groups by lowering academic expectations.

Kerry Birmingham, spokeswoman for the Troy School District, said in an e-mail obtained by the Detroit Free Press (DFP) that the proposal doesn’t actually remove honors courses, but will better prepare students for higher math in high school and post-secondary education.

“Instead of a heavy focus on computation, these new courses will require students to identify problems, find solutions and apply those solutions to new concepts,” Birmingham said. “This will make students more successful when they decide to enter Honors Algebra 1 in 8th Grade or when they decide to take a newly designed 8th Grade Mathematics course.”

She added, “This only impacts 6th and 7th grade math,” explaining that it “simply delays the decision from age 10 to age 12 and better prepares students with the kinds of skills they need for advanced mathematics in high school, including multiple AP courses and college-level Calculus.”

However, parents addressing the school board at a meeting said the plans would disproportionally hurt Asian American students — who make up 39 percent of students in the district — along with other immigrant groups.

“So many things are wrong at all levels about this,” Hengguang Li, a Troy parent who also is chair of the math department at Wayne State University, told the board. “Little collaboration effort and consensus with the community you serve. … You’re rushing through changes at the cost of valuable trust from the Troy community.”

Other parents who signed the petition expressed similar views.

“The idea to remove AP courses of any kind is utterly ridiculous,” a woman identified as Lisa Fairbourn wrote on the petition’s webpage. “Please do not continue to dumb down our children all in the name of equity. This is a big reason why parents are considering other choices for their children’s education.”

A woman from Ferndale, Michigan using the screen name Stephanie Magdowski wrote, “Everyone has the opportunity to work hard and excel. We should always strive to challenge students and encourage hard work.”

As of May 26, 2,880 people have signed the petition.

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