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Thursday, November 3, 2016

What is Gerrymandering and who was Gerry?

On NPR’s Fresh Air program: Understanding Congressional Gerrymandering, author David Daley discussed this key question:

"When President Obama won re-election in 2012 and a Democratic tide gave the party a big majority in the Senate, why did the House of Representatives remain firmly in Republican hands? The result was even more striking since voters cast 1.3 million more ballots for Democratic House candidates than Republican ones".

Building off of a National Council of Teachers of Mathematics lesson, students in Randi Currier's 8th Grade Math class discovered a major factor behind the House of Representatives’ incongruous outcome: Gerrymandering.

They masterfully led a discussion about the brilliant Republican strategy, operation RedMap, following the 2010 census. Using the architectural software SketchandCalc, students calculated ratios to objectively evaluate the likelihood that a district had been gerrymandered. They learned the layout of their own Congressional district, how districts are often manipulated, the effect of technology on re-districting, and various relevant analytical ratios. 

Randi Currier's most valuable take aways from the lesson: "Exemplars for us all, they thrived on data-driven, respectful, productive discussions around a hot political topic".

 If you see one of them, ask them who Gerry was!

Gerrymandering Scoring PDF

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