Who is Jo Boaler? Stanford's 'Professor Karen' threatened to call cops on black prof who opposed her Math 'equity' plan
A white Stanford academic has been branded 'Professor Karen' for threatening to call the police on a black UC Berkeley professor who opposed her plans to simplify the school's math curriculum to boost 'equity' among students.
Jo Boaler, an education lecturer at Stanford, and Jelani Nelson, a black computer-science teacher in Berkeley, got into a dispute due to Boaler's support of a new recommended math program in California's schools. The controversial suggestions, which would have lowered the rigorousness of the state's curriculum in an attempt to increase equity, have made some angry because, in part, they question the concept of student giftedness. Nelson has long been critical of Boaler's work on the new 'California Math Framework', saying that she was charging $5,000 an hour to peddle controversial theories while black academics were ignored.
Nelson even retweeted a filing showing Boaler was paid $40,000 in total—or - $5,000 an hour - for her work with a school district in Oxnard, California. The user has already deleted the original tweet since it contained Boaler's address. On Tuesday, April 5, Nelson sent out a screenshot of an email Boaler sent him last week.
"As a courtesy to a fellow faculty member, I wanted to let you know that the sharing of private details about me on social media yesterday is now being taken up by police and lawyers," Boaler wrote. "I was shocked to see that you are taking part in spreading misinformation and harassing me online."
Nelson then went on to claim that Boaler threatened him with police, comparing this with other instances of white women who have called the authorities on black people.
Boaler, however, denied the accusation and said she merely mentioned the police as a courtesy, because she thought it best that he did not engage with the person who wrote the original tweet.
A @Stanford professor just threatened me with police. After BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, Golfcart Gail, and all the memes, we now have Retweet Rachel. Public advisory: don't call the cops on black people for no reason. Black people disagreeing with you on Twitter is not a crime. pic.twitter.com/es92C765NQ— Jelani Nelson (@minilek) April 5, 2022
The Stanford Review has since referred to Boaler as 'Professor Karen' while on Twitter, people have started calling her various names, like 'Retweet Rachel'.
But Boaler has continued to deny the accusation. In an email to publication house SFGATE, she wrote, "I would never even think of threatening a black man with the police, I know how serious that is in our society and there could be nothing further from my intent. It goes against all of my life's work, which has been to support and elevate the needs of marginalised students. I have publicly stated that I am sorry for the way it read-that I did not intend it to be threatening. "
She also claimed that Nelson was lying about her having made $5,000 an hour for the school district. "He was spreading misinformation—that is not my hourly rate, or anything close to the rate paid by Oxnard, and as a fellow academic, he knew this to be the case," she wrote.
Boaler said that she apologized to Nelson, though he has yet to respond. "The result of his posting was that I received threatening, hateful, and misogynistic emails and texts, and I have even received graphic threats to kill my daughters. It is terrifying," she added.
About the nicknames given to her, she said, "I feel being called "Retweet Rachel," among other threats, is hugely damaging, to my work, to my well-being, and to my family. My email to him was an invitation to talk, professor to professor. "