|Address:||99 Bishop Richard Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139
|The strategy of the Algebra Project for the issue of math and education reform of the country's public school systems is a marriage of, on the one hand, insights gained from the organizing traditions of the Civil Rights Movement, and on the other, the sudden appearance of math literacy on par with reading and writing literacy caused by the shift from industrial to information age technologies. The Project has used organizing techniques of the Civil Rights Movement to work the demand side of math and education reform. It has raised in the public arena math literacy as a civil right and it has raised within a nucleus of young minority students the issue of math literacy as knowledge work. Such work is long-term and requires deep-rooted commitment over the next several generations. However, it appears to have a sound historical grounding. It takes advantage of a world-wide technological evolution which will play itself out across the 21st century, and push mathematics and quantitative literacy more and more to the forefront of the literacies required for citizenship in democratic countries. It injects into this technological era the only strategy that has successfully revolutionized race relations in this country, namely, the creation at the grassroots level of a demand for change among the people most debilitated by the current arrangements. i.e. It was not until the Sharecroppers demanded the right to vote in the early 1960s that the coalition of forces advocating on their behalf were able to break through the powerful institutional obstacles to their obtaining the right to vote. |
It is important and useful to point out that the subtext of the movement for the right to vote in Mississippi was illiteracy. In the Mississippi Delta following the Civil War, the institution of Sharecropping promoted illiteracy among a whole people. When SNCC field secretaries took illiterate Sharecroppers to the polls to demand their political rights, they raised the argument that a people who have been denied literacy through political arrangements could not be denied access to politics because they were illiterate. Because Sharecroppers were refugeed by the millions into every urban area of the country from the end of WWII to the end of the 1960s, Sharecropper Education, the education of lowest expectations, was spread and currently thrives in every urban school district in the country. Accordingly, it is useful to point out that the subtext for the current illiteracy in these urban schools is the historical, political disenfranchisement of African Americans.