This past week the citizens of my hometown made the press as their fight against Investigations math got big enough to attract attention. I just posted the below message to them on their fight site and encourage you to visit their petition site.

http://groups.google.com/group/parents-for-quality-math-education

I am so sorry you have to go through this pain. As a graduate of the class of 1987, back when teachers required you to solidly understand and perform math, I remember with great fondness doing timed tests in 3rd grade at Park Forest Elementary school to master the 12×12 tables.
Those essential skills serve all other aspects of math (and life).
Foundational mastery and rapid recall is essential to be able to dissect algebraic equations where you must see connections invisibly and instantly to solve quadratics such as what two numbers add to 19 and multiply to 84. This must be low level programmed into the subconscious for further mastery.

I left State College thinking you an anchor being next to the great engineering college of Penn State. Moving to Utah and raising a family here, I was horrified to learn that my children weren’t being taught the times tables in my district. Parents were told not to teach them for fear it would “mess them up” because of the supposed critical thinking skills Investigations math would instill.  I thought, “if only I could be back in State College where the grass is greener.”
Then my sister told me a few years ago that you had adopted Investigations math and my world came crashing down. I have survived through the years by working to eradicate this program from Utah.

I have learned that there are NO studies that support Investigations math or constructivism as a curriculum. The International TIMSS exam proves that curriculum is the #1 determining factor for successful students. Singapore is #1 for a reason. Their math program teaches children the basics of algebraic problem solving starting in 3rd grade.  By the time they are in 4th grade, they have 7 times the number of students with an advanced understanding of math as we do in the United States. They’ve cracked the code.

I truly hope you will rise up and help the board members in State College understand that their job as elected officials is to represent YOU the taxpaying public and not be apologists and protectors of the school district administration who are being paid by YOU. It’s your tax dollars and the board’s responsibility is to ensure the wisest course of action (most bang for the buck).  This is the single biggest misconception of school board members who allow themselves to be bullied by district “experts” who tell them “all the studies say this is the best way to do it” and who are they to argue with experts?
It’s time they started arguing before this Enron of educational programs destroys our technical prowess in America.

The greatest thing you could do is adopt Singapore Math (Primary Series from www.Singaporemath.com). When Benchmark elementary in Arizona did this, within a few years they were the top scoring school in the state for math, and 94% of students reported that math was their FAVORITE subject.  Imagine that.  Kids that master math love it.  When kids struggle with weak math, they hate it.  Which program do you think will better let your children move into a bright future?

Sincerely,
Oak Norton

www.oaknorton.com
www.utahsmathfuture.com  (be sure to click on America’s Dire Straits page, and Singapore and Utah math) www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com

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