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May 8, 2006

'Algebra is a civil rights issue' crusader leads educator workshop May 11

Renowned civil rights crusader, educator, and author of the book Radical Equations, Robert P. Moses will be in the Monterey Bay region May 10-11 for a series of events geared toward local educators and K-12 administrators.

Photo of Robert Moses

Robert Moses founded The Algebra Project to address the crisis in math literacy in poor communities.

Founder of The Algebra Project www.algebra.org, a national math literacy program, Moses believes higher order thinking and problem solving skills are prerequisites for full citizenship in society. The Algebra Project works with students, parents, and teachers to create a culture of literacy around algebra, the "gatekeeper" course for postsecondary education opportunities.

On May 11, Moses will lead a daylong workshop at Lakeview Middle School in Watsonville for approximately 80-100 mathematics teachers in grades 6-9. The session will focus on shifting student thinking from arithmetic to algebra. He will meet with UC Santa Cruz faculty, students, and community affiliates to discuss mathematics as a civil rights issue. Moses will also meet with educational leaders from the Monterey Bay Educational Consortium (MBEC) and the MBEC Teacher Workforce Initiative on May 10.

Moses's visit is being sponsored by the UCSC Educational Partnership Center (EPC), the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community (CJTC), Bridging Multiple Worlds Alliance, and the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA) at UC Santa Cruz.

"Algebra is a key area of focus for us," said EPC director Carrol Moran. "Students now need algebra skills to graduate from high school, and successful completion by ninth grade is key to college eligibility. We want to do all we can to bring attention to this critical area."

Moses, who was a pivotal organizer of black voters in Mississippi during the 1960s, founded The Algebra Project to address the crisis in math literacy in poor communities. In a technical era when the most pressing civil rights issue is economic access, Moses is determined to organize people community by community, school by school. He is the winner of many awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a Heinz Award in the Human Condition.

"Advocating mathematics education as a civil rights issue is a revolutionary idea, one that challenges conventional wisdom about the role mathematics plays in our lives," said Julia Aguirre, assistant professor of education at UCSC. "It's an amazing opportunity to learn from such a remarkable person whose life's work and spirit challenges us, as UCSC faculty and students, to be civil rights advocates for those we teach, now and in the future, in the struggle for social justice."

For more information about Moses's visit, please contact Beth Nelson at (831) 459-1022 or bnelson@ucsc.edu.

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