Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Jan Valle

Subject Categories

Algebra | Algebraic Geometry | Applied Mathematics | Other Mathematics




For much of American history, literacy has been prioritized in K-12 education and society, at large, at the expense of numeracy. This lack of numerical emphasis has established innumeracy as an American cultural norm that has resulted in America not producing a sufficient number of numerate citizens, and ranking poorly on mathematical performance in international comparisons. This paper investigates the decisions and circumstances that led to this under prioritization, along with the public and cultural impact of said actions. Toward this end, literature regarding contemporary and historical influences on American mathematics education (e.g., civic, policy, and parental) was reviewed. The research indicates that a general apathy from the government of the early American republic concerning mathematics education, combined with ongoing sexist, ableist, and racially insensitive practices, directly contributed to America’s current predicament with numerical education. America has closed the mathematical opportunity and achievement gap from a gender standpoint, but further work must be done to accomplish the same across race and disability.

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