Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

For those of you that saw last Sunday’s Provo Daily Herald front page story, the reporter claimed I made a number of statements which I did not. I understand how a reporter occasionally gets things wrong, especially from oral conversations, but in this case, I gave the Herald a letter in writing and they completely destroyed what I wrote and put words in my mouth I never said. This is my response. Please pass this on to everyone you know to help people understand how wrong the Daily Herald got my story. The original article I sent the Herald can be read here so you can see exactly what I did write.
Original Letter
Rebuttal

Someone sent me a link to this NY Times story about how Alice in Wonderland was really a story about math. Who knew?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/opinion/07bayley.html?pagewanted=all

This letter was posted, in August, 2009, to the RACE TO THE TOP comments section of the federal government website.   (http://www-users.math.umd.edu/~jnd/RTTTPublicLetter.html)

Underlining is mine. Signatures have been removed to shorten the post. You can view them at the link above. It’s a who’s-who of math professionals.

RACE TO THE TOP AND K-12 MATHEMATICS EDUCATION:

A Letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Introduction

If a first grade teacher read at the fifth grade level, we’d be outraged. But what if she had only third or fourth grade mathematics skills and lacked the conceptual understanding needed for teaching mathematics?  Unfortunately, this is the reality for all too many licensed K – 8 teachers in this country.   According to a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the current training that prospective K-8 teachers receive in the vast majority of this country’s education schools assures that this appalling situation will continue unchanged.

We agree with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s statement:  “… it is hard to teach what you don’t know. When we get to 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, we see a lot of students start to lose interest in math and science … because their teachers don’t know math and science”.  For the United States to remain competitive, every part of K-12 mathematics education in this country must be strengthened: curriculum, textbooks, instruction, assessments, and, above all, the preparation and continuing professional development of those who teach mathematics and science, regardless of grade level and the kind of school in which they teach.

Teachers’ mathematical knowledge is particularly important in K-8, since students’ mathematical foundations are built there. The first priority must be rigorous mathematics courses for prospective teachers of elementary and middle school children, followed by state-approved licensing tests that fully assess their knowledge and conceptual understanding of elementary mathematics.  We must radically upgrade the mathematical content of their professional development programs as well.

Recommendation 1. The United States Department of Education should fund only those states that present a plan to implement the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in mathematics courses or programs for prospective or current teachers of mathematics and science in K-8 and on their licensing (certification) tests. The rigorously researched Panel’s 2008 report advises that teacher preparation programs and licensing tests for all K-8 mathematics teachers should fully address the foundational topics in arithmetic (including fractions, decimals, and percents), geometry, measurement, and algebra that are spelled out in the Panel’s report. Middle school teachers should know more than teachers in early grades.  Other professions have state licensing requirements, whose purpose is to protect the public from practitioners without entry-level knowledge and skills.  Good grades from law school do not exempt aspiring lawyers from having to pass state bar exams. Clearly the education of K-12 students should be considered as important to safeguard as the interests of a lawyer’s clients.

What are needed are serious college mathematics courses. The Massachusetts Department of Education’s guidelines for the mathematical preparation of elementary and special education teachers are a step toward describing the content of such courses. The courses must cover the core material that we should expect teachers to know in order to prepare our children to compete successfully in the world economy and to help their students avoid remedial coursework if and when they enter college.

Recommendation 2. The programs funded by the U.S.D.E. should require instructors of the mathematics courses for aspiring or current K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors to hold a Ph.D. in mathematics or a mathematics-dependent field (or at least be closely supervised by someone holding such a degree).  All prospective K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors should be required to pass a solid test on the core mathematical material (especially arithmetic) for licensing.  Mathematics supervisors and coaches should be required to have at least the mathematics qualifications of those they supervise.

Recommendation 3. The U.S.D.E., as part of the provision in Title II of the Higher Education Act, should require each state to report publicly by institution the pass/fail rates for all prospective elementary and special education teachers on a mathematics licensure test as demanding as the 40-item test now required in Massachusetts. This recommendation is fully supported by the report of the National Council on Teacher Quality documenting the inadequate preparation in mathematics of future elementary school teachers in 67 of the 77 colleges/universities surveyed.

Recommendation 4. The states funded by the U.S.D.E. should be required to align the courses in mathematics pedagogy taken by prospective K-5 teachers with the new mathematics coursework, as outlined in Recommendation 1.  Current methods courses too often focus only on demonstrating how to teach very low level mathematics content.

Recommendation 5. The U.S.D.E. should fund content-rich professional development programs for current K-8 mathematics and science teachers, coaches, and supervisors, and for elementary and middle school principals.  It should not fund professional development programs that do not have a significant arithmetic component.

Close cooperation between teachers in the field, mathematicians having an active interest in K-12 mathematics education, and mathematics educators, together with the active help of government and the business community, can turn our mathematics outcomes around, but time is of the essence.

References

National Council on Teacher Quality. (2008).  No common denominator: The preparation of elementary teachers in mathematics by America’s education schools.  NCTQ: Washington, DC: www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/nctq_ttmath_exec_summ_20090208042841.pdf

National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008).  Foundations for Success: Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. U.S. Department of Education: Washington, D.C. www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf

We, the undersigned, support this letter: (see link at top)

Last Saturday I was on Red Meat Radio talking about the Utah’s Republic project (www.utahsrepublic.org) which has a goal of restoring constitutional education in Utah. Rather than repeat everything I’ve posted on that site, here’s an audio link if you’d like to hear the radio segment (14 minutes) and then a link to the post on that site. If you’re in Utah, please sign the petition to get on the email list and help effect meaningful changes in the social studies standards of the state.

Audio:

Red-Meat-Radio-Republic Segment-1-9-2010

Writeup:

http://www.utahsrepublic.org/news/radio-show-action-items/

Howdy folks,

I’ve been buried with projects, one of which is getting Mathino ready for purchase as quickly as possible so those of you that want it for Christmas can get it. It’s really a fantastic game (since I didn’t create it I can say that :)).

There’s been a bit of stuff lately that has come out, some more important than others and where my time is short I will just summarize the highlights and give you links to the information.

Oak

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This first piece would be great to share with board members, teachers, and principles.
Who Needs Mathematicians for Math, Anyway?
The ed schools’ pedagogy adds up to trouble.
by Sandra Stotsky, former Assistant Commissioner of Education in MA, and now professor of education reform in Arkansas.
“The math wars, which started in debates about pedagogy, may end in questions about the long-term prospects for American prosperity.”

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In this classic “news” report by The Onion, just substitute “reform” for “Montessori” and “math” for “dentisty” and you’ll get a good laugh over the insanity of constructivism.

Montessori School Of Dentistry Lets Students Discover Their Own Root Canal Procedures

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A couple weeks ago, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new report on educational innovations in each state entitled “Leaders and Laggards”. Not many states faired well, but Utah was near the bottom of the heap with poor school management, staffing (removing ineffective teachers), pipeline to postsecondary, and technology.  We did get an ‘A’ for data and a ‘B’ for finance, but overall a ‘D’ rating.

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NCTQ report recommends Colorado adopt Singapore Math

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Latest outrages:

Achtung! Prosecutor says only jail deters homeschooling

I received this email recently from Erik Syring who you probably don’t remember but I’ve mentioned him before. He runs a global education company (in the sense that it’s available all around the world, not indoctrinating for global causes :)) and has on board some names you’ll recognize like Jim Milgram, etc…

There was recently a conference on the future of education which sparked some great thoughts and Erik sent me this email. The full discussion is available at the link below, and below it are a few random quotes Erik included. This is the ultimate school choice.

School Choice a la Carte (Education Sector on-line conference)

http://www.educationsector.org/discussions/discussions_show.htm?discussion_id=1030563

“Schooling has entered the zone that the big telephone companies were in before cellular and VoIP services became dominating factors. Within a decade the scene for education will be changed just as much as telecommunications was. Good for students; inconvenient for a lot of adults who make their living in the traditional model.”

“Education is still viewed as public school for the masses, private schools for the rich, virtual schools for computer geeks, and charter and home schools for the non-conformists. We need to stop thinking of education as a place and realize it is a process.”

“To succeed with the kids the system now loses [struggling students and very strong students], we’ll have to be open to major differentiation.”

“(primary/secondary education)…should pursue a system similar to many colleges, in which students get advisors, must fulfill certain requirements, but have substantial freedom within those constraints to choose the classes and instructors they prefer.”

“Weʼre headed for radical choice–not just school choice but choice to the lesson level. Weʼll soon have adaptive content libraries and smart recommendation engines that string together a unique ʻplaylistʼ for every student every day. These smart platforms will consider learning level, interests, and best learning modality (i.e.,motivational profile and learning style to optimize understanding and persistence). Smart learning platforms will be used by some students that learn at home, by some students that connect through hybrid schools with a day or two onsite, and by most students through blended schools that mix online learning with onsite support systems. Choice between physical schools will increasingly be about the learning community they create in terms of the applications and extracurricular opportunities and guidance and support systems. Families will gain the ability to construct a series of learning experiences that fit family needs, schedules, preferences, and interests.

“… very school-focused… legislation. In the accountability systems… the school is the unit of accountability in all areas – attendance, graduation, reading and math achievement. This type of accountability won’t work, however, in a system with increased customization, where students get reading instruction in one place and math instruction in another. A critical step in shifting our thinking from education as a place to education as a process is to create accountability and data systems that work in a system of increased choice and customization, and that don’t rely on having one place-the school-as the unit of accountability.”

“Just as the new flat world economy is requiring new kind of business leadership at all levels to address how companies will compete in this new order, our education sector is desperately in need of a new paradigm of leadership at the school and district level and the appropriate infrastructure to support and nurture this New Education Leader.”

“The question is not whether this will happen, but how. And my main concern is that if we don’t affirmatively embrace these options from a public education standpoint and make sure that our systems, policies, and educators support these options for ALL students, then many will not be able to take advantage of this potential. And, to be clear, by support I mean make sure that our policies and programs are structured not just to provide access, but truly structured to ensure 1) that many different types of students can succeed — especially those that are not currently succeeding in traditional environments, and 2) that our data, accountability, funding, and other policies are designed to build these seamless experiences, rather than marginalize them to the province of the already successful or affluent.”


Erik E. Syring
Chief Executive Officer
Global Education
http://globaleducationforyou.wordpress.com
“The best education in the world brought to students everywhere”
“The world’s 100,000 best teachers teaching the world’s top 5,000,000 students”

Curtis Blanco has put together a coordinate geometry book that is free for use. If you are homeschooling or looking for additional geometry problems for a class, you can get it here. Updates are being made on a regular basis so check back periodically.

http://www.constructorscorner.com/Corners/Corners_files/Honors_Coordinate_Geometry.pdf

My next project is online now and looking for help. Utah’s Republic is an online education site teaching  about the difference between a Democracy and Republic and asking by petition for the state to modify a few of the state history standards since the word Republic is never mentioned once. The petition also calls for better U.S. government texts that actually use the original intent of our Founding Fathers in establishing our governmental system, and lastly to ask that September 17th Constitution Day programs teach that natural rights are not given or taken by the majority in a Democracy, but these rights come from God (or for the atheist from nature) and no one has a right to deprive you of these natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To see how far gone we are, here’s a funny “on the street” video asking local people about what form of government we have, and then one about a tragic school district motto in one district in Utah…you’d never guess who.

I came across this web page recently while doing some research on John Dewey and John Goodlad. Both men are cut from the same progressive, humanist cloth, and this page tells the incredible tale of how various education and government organizations are intimately tied together.  If you do a search for John Goodlad’s name, you will discover that in 1968 he was involved in moving forward a plan for national curriculum centers. In the 1980’s, Mr. Goodlad would be hired by BYU to help them form the Public School Partnership that created the framework for the 5 surrounding school districts to be heavily influenced by the philosophies Goodlad and his cohorts espoused…one of which is constructivism.

http://www.crossroad.to/Excerpts/chronologies/nea.htm

A great article from Barry Garelick on the insanity of Everyday math and the virtues of Singapore math.

http://ednews.org/articles/one-step-ahead-of-the-train-wreck.html

What exactly is the attraction of reform math? I still haven’t figured out why so many “educators” are so blind to this method of teaching and the results it’s producing.  Two year colleges are being hit especially hard with the number of students requiring remedial math. Utah is no exception, but here’s some hard figures from another community college:

http://www.math.umd.edu/~jnd/Remedial.Math.Problem.htm

The numbers of students needing remediation went from 63% in 1999 to 71% today. One eighth of the PGCC budget is allocated to remediation.