Jo Boaler Reveals Attacks By James Milgram And Wayne Bishop

Jo Boaler:

Academic disagreement is an inevitable consequence of academic freedom, and I welcome it. However, responsible disagreement and academic bullying are not the same thing. Milgram and Bishop have engaged in a range of tactics to discredit me and damage my work which I have now decided to make public.

It’s gripping reading. If you had told me five years ago the kind of character assassination Boaler experienced was possible in higher education, I would have thought you were joking.

BTW: Jo Boaler is one of my advisers at Stanford. If Milgram and Bishop’s baseless attacks on her research had been successful, I would have missed out on her mentorship. So I’m linking to this essay out of both personal and professional interest.

BTW: She has a blog, a Twitter account, and this essay, all of which should be seen by as many people as possible.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school teacher, former graduate student, and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.


  1. Joseph Henderson

    October 13, 2012 - 7:58 am

    Ugh, that’s really disgusting. I would be willing to bet that gender has something to do with this too. I’m lucky to exist in a healthier, and yet still critical, academic community, although I’m sure similar stuff happens there too. Academics are human too.

  2. Chris Robinson

    October 13, 2012 - 8:37 am

    How does a university like Stanford allow this to go on? It seems in the world of higher education research, there is not a system of checks and balances that leads to appropriate consequences. It’s people like this that are part of the problem in educational reform. I don’t mind individuals having their own opinion (even if it is antiquated), but to purposefully try to ruin another career just to advance your own agenda is despicable.

  3. Breedeen

    October 13, 2012 - 8:39 am

    Wow. I had no idea.

  4. mr bombastic

    October 13, 2012 - 10:05 am

    “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so low”

    Henry Kissinger

  5. Mr. K

    October 13, 2012 - 1:45 pm

    How can you question Wayne Bishop’s philosophy ofteaching math?


    October 14, 2012 - 5:26 am

    Two of my academic heroes–Edward O. Wilson and Candice Pert–both tell poignant instances of how they were bullied by fellow scientists…women especially seem fair game. Some people also make a living riding their criticism of other writers–Paul C. Gorski is one whose bulk of material is set on discrediting the work of Ruby Payne for example…
    I put Jo Boaler’s articles/blogs on my facebook page…a small but at times valuable attempt at spreading awareness.

  7. Elizabeth

    October 14, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Thank you. I have just finished a unit on “creating equitable futures” after Boaler ( and others) research but specifically about SLUSD math department and the great work they created there, Most key teachers gone now… Talk about bullying

    My preservice teachers will vote with their minds and their skills and their desire for social justice. Boaler, Dan or Milgram et al…no contest.

  8. John Berray

    October 14, 2012 - 7:11 am

    Ugly and disheartening.
    Makes me want to wear a T-shirt to CMC Palm Springs with “I side with Boaler” or “Boaler’s Right.”

  9. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    October 14, 2012 - 7:45 am

    I’m saddened that Dan has chosen to delete my comment in support of Jo Boaler’s revelations about the Bishop/Milgram attack. He deems my remarks too insubstantial and in a rather sad example of “fair and balanced” journalism, justifies his removing them by noting that another person tried to post two inflammatory comments (knowing the poster I presume they were in direct and angry response to mine) and he removed those, too.

    There is a time when you have to know who your friends are and where the truth lies. Nothing I posted here was untrue. But a lot of the supporting documentation has gone the way of many changes in computers and lack of access to material some of which goes back to the mid 1990s. Much of the printed material is just that: printed. I haven’t chosen to pursue anything legal against those involved, and hence haven’t created a web page like Jo did, or vetted anything with attorneys as she had to do. It would not be trivial to put together all that has been out there in the last two decades that supports both my comments and points to the credibility of Jo Boaler’s complaints.

    Of course, I’m 62 years old, and my career isn’t dependent upon traditional academia any longer. I don’t have to cover my behind the way I gather some folks feel compelled to do. I understand: these are difficult times. But I long ago realized that a lot of what politics is about is knowing whom to trust. In that regard, Jo Boaler seems to have trusted me. I most decidedly trusted her and did all I could to help her build her case. I would think that earns me some credibility here, but apparently not.

  10. Climeguy

    October 14, 2012 - 7:59 am

    Michael has had a long and storied battle with the “forces of evil” Milgram, Bishop and others for years. If interested you can find their exchanges on the Math Forum’s NCTM-Teach listserv

  11. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    October 14, 2012 - 8:02 am

    Thanks, Ihor, er, Climeguy. When people have directly tried to destroy one’s career and ability to put food on the table, it gets pretty personal. That Jo and I have some persecutors/antagonists in common makes her fighting back very important to me.

  12. Dan Meyer

    October 14, 2012 - 9:27 am


    He deems my remarks too insubstantial and in a rather sad example of “fair and balanced” journalism, justifies his removing them by noting that another person tried to post two inflammatory comments (knowing the poster I presume they were in direct and angry response to mine) and he removed those, too.

    Very little about this is correct.

    This blog has a fairly permissive and definitely unwritten policy about comments. If I had to write that policy down, though, one of its statutes would read:

    Don’t accuse people of racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism without marshaling a pile of facts to back yourself up.

    MPG did exactly the opposite of that so I bounced his comment.

    If Prof. Boaler had marshaled a similar case as MPG, one that was heavy on namecalling and allegations while light on documentation, I wouldn’t have posted it either.

    That’s the policy, but don’t let it get you down. This blog isn’t the only game in town. You all have your own blogs. Ihor has offered a link to the Math Forum which has been nothing if not grateful in the past to host these kinds of fruitless exchanges. So have at them.