One expert in Levitt’s project, Salon reports, has worked for years on math curriculum reform because of what she calls the “calculus funnel.” Children in many districts take placement tests as young as sixth grade that put them on one math “track” or another, and due to widely studied social factors in education that are perpetuated by everyone from teachers themselves to family members, boys still outperform girls on these tests, for example.
It’s not an equitable way to decide who studies which mathematics, or to assign college-bound value to those students. That’s in addition to critiques of education that insists everyone must aim toward college at the exclusion of life skills, practical mathematics for financial independence, and other kinds of math that students might even use to get by while spending their days studying higher mathematics.
There’s another key point here. As more and more students study computing and programming, there’s incentive to give them access to discrete mathematics, which is the counterpoint to calculus’s continuous mathematics: think counting numbers versus decimals that stretch into infinity. And what Levitt wants to include—data science—is an interesting middle ground between the two, with rays that extend into programming, data entry and management, and even proofreading, a multidisciplinary field that teaches key ideas from many areas of study.