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Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project Paperback – February 1, 2002


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Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project + Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public Schools
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807031275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807031278
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The ongoing struggle for citizenship and equality for minority people is now linked to an issue of math and science literacy," argue Moses, an educator and civil rights activist, and Cobb, a cofounder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Moses's Algebra Project, which he initiated in McComb County, Miss., in 1982, is not a traditional program of school reform. It aims to nurture collaboration between parents, teachers and students in order to teach middle-school kids algebra--a course that Moses believes is a crucial stepping-stone to college level math and, thus, lifelong economic opportunity. Drawing its inspiration from the civil rights movement's organizing tactics, the first part of this book is devoted to detailing how black Americans undid the white choke hold on Southern politics. In part two, Moses shows how the same grassroots organizing can be applied to make change in the classroom. He also explains why the project's success rate is so much higher than that of traditional math programs. Peppered with anecdotes and quotations from participants, this dense book is surprisingly captivating. Moses's main argument should resonate with concerned parents and community leaders as well as educators. An important step forward in math pedagogy and a provocative field manual, this book is a radical equation indeed. (Feb.)Forecast: Moses's status as a legendary civil rights activist, a MacArthur Award recipient and a dynamic voice in education should help garner an enthusiastic reception for this book, particularly in cities like Boston and Los Angeles, where he has established divisions of the Algebra Project and where an author tour is planned.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

They seem like unrelated concepts: civil rights and math literacy; Freedom Summer and the Algebra Project. When the individual who links them is Bob Moses, however, the unanticipated connections are worth exploring. Moses was a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer in Mississippi in the 1960s. In part 1, he discusses the lessons of that experience, particularly involving the entire community and defining a goal (in Mississippi, voting rights) that empowers the community to address its other needs. In the twenty-first century, Moses argues, "the most urgent social issue affecting poor people and people of color is economic access . . . [and] economic access and full citizenship depend crucially on math and science literacy." For two decades, Moses and his associates have been developing an approach to middle-school math aimed at preparing every child for high-school and then college mathematics. Part 2 of Radical Equations traces that effort, its experiential pedagogy, and its application in urban and rural school districts. A surprising study of continuity and change in the struggle to reduce inequality and empower communities. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Gibson on February 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Robert Moses, whose life traces the best aspects of the civil rights movement, always grasped the relationship of organizing for justice and good teaching. This accessible book addresses much more than math education, but equity, justice, and democracy-and shows how they fit together quite nicely. It's a book for both theoreticians and practitioners, demonstrating the unity of ideas and social practice in a classroom where the goal is to struggle for what is true. Robert Moses' main message is, I think, "What you do counts." Makes double good sense in a math classroom.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By watzizname VINE VOICE on January 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Robert P. Moses, a leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, has (correctly) reached the conclusion that Math literacy is, in these times and for the predictable future, a prerequisite for first-class citizenship, and since he still wants everyone to be a first-class citizen (and rightly so) he has embarked on a campaign to enable every child to be mathematically literate, and he has enjoyed a considerable degree of success. There is still a long way to go; his program (or more accurately, the program developed by Moses and his associates and the children, parents, and teachers they have worked with) has so far been adopted only by a small minority of the schools, but in those schools where it is in place, math achievement has increased significantly, and (SURPRISE!) reading scores have also improved significantly.

THIS IS A RESULT THAT EVERY TEACHER AND EVERY SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR SHOULD KNOW ABOUT! THIS BOOK SHOULD BE IN EVERY SCHOOL LIBRARY!

I have only one small carp with this book. On page 7 is the statement: "The result was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the world's first programmable computer. I asked three Afro-American students, ages 15-21, what was the world's first programmable computer, and not one of them mentioned ENIAC. Rather, they all replied that the first programmable computer was the Zuse Z3. They were all correct. The Z3, disigned and built by Konrad Zuse in Germany, and operational in 1939, approximately 2 years before ENIAC, was the world's first programmable computer. Fortunately, the German High Command didn't take Zuse and his computer seriously.

However, the error is understandable.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rob Robinson on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"That's what we learned in Mississippi, that it is getting people at the bottom to make demands, on themselves first, then on the system, that leads to some of the most important changes. They have to find their voice."

Robert Moses is a brilliant mathematician, and a little bit of a seer, who sets himself the task of defining his life in terms that constitute a radical equation.

Moses relates his personal history in the movement that broke the back of segregation and Jim Crow in the South. He connects the young SNCC field secretaries, who, with guidance from the older local organizers like Amzie Moore and Fannie Lou Hamer helped black communities take charge of their own destinies. And, he demonstrates how economic factors have made math illiteracy the functional equivalent of political disenfranchisement that threatens future generations of black youth with a bondage no less frightening.

Moses' vision is profound rather than simple. Charles Cobb, Jr. does an artful job of helping Moses find a voice capable of uttering the insights of a lifetime of formidable accomplishment. Particularly since, as Moses admits, " reaching out to probe into really personal things isn't a particularly strong point of mine."

Caveat emptor: this is not just a ripping memoir of the Southern civil rights movement. It is that, but Moses is a demanding teacher. He makes his audience come to grips with and think about the dehumanizing legacies of the "isms" he's spent a lifetime combating in Africa as well as America. This may put off some readers, as it clearly did some reviewers. Too bad. Those who do the math with Bob Moses will learn from their struggle -- and be thankful for his.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Pat Anderson on April 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The voices from Mississippi in the 60's and again in the 80's, 90's and on into this new century come right off the page in this tremendously important book. Bob Moses and Charles Cobb ground the reader in the earlier civil rights movement, laying the foundation for the current struggle for citizenship of minority youth-which plays out now in terms of competing in today's job market. They discuss their approach and demands (of themselves, of the kids, of the parents and teachers, of the community) in terms of "setting the floor." The authors show that we as a society need to leave behind the expectations that these youth can't make it and give them the tools so they can advance. The quality of the writing makes the concepts very accessible and the message is one of great hope. I've already thought of 10 different people who should read this book ASAP!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Auren Hoffman on December 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good book on how math literacy is the next civil right. The book discusses the Algebra Project, an organization founded by 1960's civil rights leader Bob Moses, to teach algebra to kids in inner-cities and rural communities.
The beginning of the book reads like Moses' autobiography about his years organizing in Mississippi. He then discusses how groups like the Jews, Koreans, and Chinese relied on math as the basis for their upward mobility. Moses' theory is that as the world becomes more and more focused on technology and innovation, math will have an even greater importance.
Summation: Read this book -- it is very eye-opening.
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