Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Write Congress Today

HERE is your link.

Here is my letter.....

To: The Honorable Adam Smith,

I am on the Washington State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel.

It is my recommendation that any NSF activity that does not align with the Report "Foundations for Success" be canceled.

On 5-21-2008 US House Education and Labor Committee is scheduled to have a meeting in regard to the National Math Advisory Panel Report. It is my observation as a math teacher that one of the reasons for the US fall in math education have been actions by the NSF in regard to k-12 math education in the USA.

The USA fell a statistically significant 9 points from 483 to 474 on the PISA math test of 15 years olds from 2003 to 2006. We remain far and away the world's worst scoring English speaking country tested and we are getting worse.

I was involved in an NSF funded math professional development program run through the University of Washington during school year 2006-2007. My only comment is that it was abysmal. The NSF funds have established a math infrastructure that is focused on promotion of professional prejudices rather than on the intelligent application of relevant data needed to produce improvement.

The NMAP points out there are no best practices in Math because there are 16,000 bogus research studies that are used to advance the prejudices of the profession rather than any concern with better results.

If we examine international performance in mathematics not only will you find the USA's performance pathetic but worse yet is our NSF inspired insistence that we know what we are doing in Math-Ed and the rest of the world is uninformed as to our brilliant insights.

Please assist in shutting down from within what has in too many ways become our agency of domestic math terrorism.

The NSF spent close to $100 million dollars in producing 13 math curricula of which not even one has yet demonstrated the ability to produce significant positive achievement.

The NSF runs expensive programs in professional development that are specifically aimed at pushing reform mathematics. We are now the laughing stock of the industrialized world for our failure to mathematically educate our children. Our future economic health is threatened.

A huge number of math teachers are extremely frustrated with Bureaucratic Textbook selections of books filled with words rather than numbers. Then those same Bureaucrats wonder: why the children have little number sense?

Singapore is a nation in which all math instruction is in English and yet over 50% of the children come from homes speaking Tamil, Malay, or Mandarin Chinese not English. Singapore students score #1 in the world on TIMSS Math at both grade 4 and grade 8. In most US states their books would not be used because they do not come with multiple language editions.

The Singapore texts are written in very straight forward simple English and use lots of Numbers - that is a real key MORE NUMBERS and fewer words. The USA thanks to defective leadership still is headed for lots of words available in multiple languages rather than Numbers.

Please Congressman Smith see if you can restore some sanity to this system.

Danaher M. Dempsey Jr.

Washington State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist
BA in Mathematics, M.Ed.
NCLB Highly Qualified in Math, Chemistry, and Science

and really disgusted with the last 15 years of NSF destructive direction in K-12 mathematics.... and Featuring the Best Math Practices that are NOT.


flotsam said...

Thanks for your work--I just stumbled on your blog through a google search. I have one question: Could you elaborate on the terrorism and hijacking of math education? Thanks

dan dempsey said...


Welcome to the Underground.

You need look no further than the results of the last decade. Check TIMSS Scores and especially the PISA drop from 2003 to 2006.

The NSF has created a climate in this nation where professional prejudice is far more important than results.

Ask about attendance at the Park City Math Institute some good stuff for teachers but all slanted toward the failing reform math developed fostered and promoted by the NSF.

West Seattle High School was a participant in an NSF sponsored professional development project through UW. We were told by Dr James King of the UW that we could pick any project. When we suggested a non-reform project, it was unacceptable. WSHS went with no project rather than IMP. Autocratic Centralized Terrorism on a Seattle sized scale.

Our idea would have not placed our faith in Differentiated Instruction used in an exploratory inquiry based fashion. Many at WSHS are capable of reading both words and graphs. For your consideration if you are among the literate and not a true believer in Faith Based Math look HERE.

Hamas could have hardly done better.

Most math teachers find themselves forced to use extremely poor materials often selected by district decision makers who know little about math but lots about district politics.

Even the few Math Program managers who actually know mathematics in WA state are often forced by state recommended materials to choose less than optimal tools for the job.

Sunday Morning Parable:

Ichiro regularly bats over 0.300 but if you put Babe Ruth's Bat in his hands he will be lucky to bat .250

If Ruth had used Ichiro's bat he would have been a pitcher forever and there would have been few home runs.

There is a lot of art in hitting and the artist needs access to good tools.

Teaching Math is an art. Unfortunately the tools are pathetic these days.

Why are people who know nothing about batting picking out the bats?

Given our current rate of math ed decay we are headed toward living in pup tents with a GDP like Bangladesh.

Could OUTSIDE Terrorists do better than that for pathetic results?


Anonymous said...

There are two aspects of this reform movement when viewed as a force for social change. The first deals with policies that change the organization of public education, first by broadening what society defines for the public good. This includes what gets labeled as a school or as a teacher.

The second part of the reform movement that is not as obvious has been the coercive use of power by government officials to benefit those who wield power which has been to the detriment of whoever must endure it, or in this case, children attending public classrooms.

The disparity in achievement and lack of economic success by the majority of students attending public school, should be alarming people, but our elected leaders, have for instance: understated the problem, made unilateral decisions in private that were without justification, or conveniently ommitted important information, thus interfering with fundamental democratic principles.

A terrorist act induces fear and there are presently two standards for children in education - public schools and private schools. The standards for private schools have been arbitrary.

The issue has always been over literacy and diversity.

It was not too long ago when a similiar government officials allowed school boards to buy inferior books and hire non-certificated staff when there were segregated schools, prior to Smith v. Lemon Grove and Brown vs. Board.

What could cause more harm and fear to children than giving them books that can't read or even worse an irrational textbook that no one understands (except the authors and Warfield), teach children substandard algorithms that only work with whole numbers, extend school hours and create lower tracks for kids that eventually fail them.

Basically, this government and their supporters are attacking public education. They are filling children with lies about not succeeding in life because they can't pass the WASL.

That sounds to me like a declaration of war on Americans. When this war is over, not one Bush republican will ever want to step back into politics, they will be so ashamed.

dan dempsey said...


I've never been big on conspiracy theories but there is an amazing amount of extremely poor decision making that indicates a conspiracy could be underlying all this apparent stupidity. I do not know.

My oldest son spent a year in Sri Lanka the former Ceylon. When Sri Lanka gained independence the public schools changed from education in English to education in Sinhalese the native tongue of 75% of Sri Lanka. This enabled those in positions of wealth to send their children to private schools that still taught in English. Think of the job market. Know English and get a good job. This certainly restricted job market competition for those offspring of the well to do. Recently Sri Lanka resumed instruction in English.

You could suspect the same thing in the USA, in regard to math. Me I am still banking on the collective ignorance of the US Education system as the principle cause. I could be wrong but the daily evidence and demonstrations of non-conspiratorial ignorance are continually present.

Anonymous said...

Social movements and conspiracies are two separate things. Within a social movement, there could be multiple conspiracies. The NCLB provisions certainly allow for abuses that could be conspiratorial, but if there is no investigation then no crime can be proven.

There are many instances of fraud in education that only result in very minor punishment. The bigger the fraud, the less likely the criminals will be prosecuted. ERATE is one example - the complexity of school finance also allows for fraud, since the public is either unaware or refuses to believe the perpetrators knowingly deceived the public.

In this case, the reform movement is a conglomeration of movements, involving businesses (through foundations), workers in the curriculum industry, and leaders in education.

Who would have thought a VP embezzling money from an alumni fund? Especially from his daughter's class who started the fund. He retired with a vacation house in the San Juans.

This is more practical for studying what we're describing in education on this blog...

(Wikipedia modified)
Resource mobilization (RM) stresses the ability of movement's members to acquire resources and to mobilize people towards the furtherance of their goals.[Kendall 2006]

RM views social movements as formed by rational social institutions and social actors taking political action. [Buechler 1999]

According to RM, it is a core group of sophisticated strategists that works towards harnessing the disaffected energies, attracting money and supporters, capturing the media’s attention, forging alliances with those in power, and creating an organizational structure.

RM assumes that without such resources, social movements cannot be effective, and further that dissent alone is not enough to engender any social change.[Kendall 2006]

RM is based on the assumptions that individuals are rational. Also, it views social movements as a goal-oriented activity. Thus, following rational choice theory, individuals are viewed as weighing the costs and benefits of movement participation and deciding to act only if benefits outweigh costs.

When movement goals take the form of public goods, the free rider dilemma has to be taken into consideration.

Organization is more important than acquisition of resources, or than resources themselves.

Organization focuses on interactions between social movement organizations (SMOs) and other organizations (other SMOs, businesses, governments, etc.).

Organization infrastructure is another aspect of study in this approach.[Kendall 2006]

Resource mobilization theory may be divided into two camps:

John McCarthy and Mayer Zald are the originators and major advocates of the classic enterpreneurial (economic) version of this theory, while
Charles Tilly and Doug McAdam are proponents of the political version of resource mobilization.[Kendall 2006]

So where do we go from here...
Tilly and McAdam!!