Did Oregon Officials Say 'Showing Work' in Math Class Is White Supremacism?

5 min read
We reached out to the Oregon Department of Education about a newsletter it sent to math teachers statewide.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) told teachers that asking students to "show their work" in math class is a form of white supremacy.

The ODE did not explicitly tell teachers that requiring students to "show their work" in math class was a form of white supremacy. Rather, the department told Snopes that expanding the ways in which teachers make students explain their question-answering process beyond the written word and numbers could help eliminate racial and language performance gaps.

In a newsletter to math teachers, ODE promoted an independent project that has materials on its website that read, "White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when ... students are required to 'show their work.'"

In early 2021, Snopes became aware of online reports that alleged the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) said the practice of students documenting how they answer math problems perpetuated white supremacism.

Among web pages circulating the claim was a Feb. 15 article on conservative commentator Ben Shapiro's media website, The Daily Wire. It read:

A mathematics guide sent out to Oregon schools tells educators that asking students to show their work in math class is a form of white supremacy. […] Examples of classroom actions that allegedly perpetuate white supremacy include asking students to show their work, focusing on getting the right answer, tracking student success, and grading students.

A separate web page by Fox News titled, "Oregon promotes teacher program that seeks to undo 'racism in mathematics'," also made the assertion, while users of social media sites including Twitter and Reddit debated the accuracy of such reports, or circulated their allegations about the state department's instructions to educators as fact.

We learned the rumor's source was a Feb. 5 newsletter from ODE to math teachers across the state that included links to additional teaching resources. See the below-displayed screenshot of a portion of the public bulletin, of…
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