Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain and Obama Tussle On Choice, Teacher Issues

From Education Week:

Candidates’ K-12 Views Take Shape
McCain and Obama Tussle On Choice, Teacher Issues
By Alyson Klein

As their education plans begin to crystallize, sharper differences are emerging between John McCain and Barack Obama on school choice, teacher preparation, and tutoring, even as neither presidential candidate has released a detailed proposal on revising the No Child Left Behind Act.

Article : McCain on Virtual Education


Tacoma School District Sued by former chief Milligan

Tacoma school district sued by former chief Milligan

For want of about $40,000, Charlie Milligan is suing the Tacoma School District. The former schools chief, who left town a year ago with a cash-and-benefits settlement worth about $418,000, says the district still owes him money.

Milligan was a Saxon advocate it will be interesting to see whether Milligan or the district got the Math right on this one. + or - $40,000 does not sound like a rounding error; must be a problem about deep conceptual (or is that contractual) understanding.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Biggest Issue

An interesting take on the USA and education,
Great Progress up to 1970 and little progress since then.

From the NY Times click HERE

Niki writes:

This whole article is a must read for leaders and parents in this country. Thanks, Dan, for sending it.

Of special importance, I thought, are the following paragraphs.

Heckman points out that big gaps in educational attainment are present at age 5. Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not. By 5, it is possible to predict, with depressing accuracy, who will complete high school and college and who won’t.

I.Q. matters, but Heckman points to equally important traits that start and then build from those early years: motivation levels, emotional stability, self-control and sociability. He uses common sense to intuit what these traits are, but on this subject economists have a lot to learn from developmental psychologists.

Seems to me money needs to be dumped into parenting classes during middle school and high school years, since there is the belief by many that school is the place where everything related to behaviors should be taught to students. (We should also have adult parenting classes mandated by the government, don't you think?)

No kidding, I really don't know the answer for turning around a whole cultural movement that has helped turn adults into "forever children"--who are then raising children.

Sudhakar writes:

I cannot agree more. I could tell with my own children when they were even younger (about 2 years old) what their personality would be like. My youngest of three is a teenager now, and I am surprised how little their outlook towards life has changed. It has also allowed us to make adjustments to the way they are taught.

One thing I need to emphasize here, is that I found almost any deficiency can be overcome with hard work, if it is caught early. However, I have rarely met a teacher who has brought up issues about our kids' learning. We were on our own when it came to getting our kids tested outside the school, and making up for any shortcomings by teaching at home.

And I second the notion that parenting efforts should increase, not decrease, when the kids are in middle and high school. In my opinion, that is the dangerous time when the tendency to take risks is the highest, and judgment is at its lowest.

I hadn't thought of your idea (in your last paragraph) but that's good, too. I was thinking about teaching the middle and high school students themselves about parenting skills, since so many aren't learning them from the adults in their lives and we have such a high rate of births among out-of-wedlock situations.

It's not enough to provide day care centers in high schools now so the mothers can continue with their schooling. They should also be required to attend parenting classes as part of their condition for continuing their education.


Link to Sudhakar's blog:
Its Action Time


Sunday, July 27, 2008

So What does testing Show?

Consider the following communication the next time a school is ranked.

> I just came across something interesting. School districts have the
> option of checking a box on the scoring information sheet from Riverside Publishing (publishes ITBS) that says: "Do not use Math Computation when calculating Total and Composite Scores." Math Computation is one of 3 areas tested in the Math Battery.

This makes me wonder just in what way the test is nationally normed. If my school decides not to count computation, and asks Iowa Test to exclude that part of the report, is only that part included in the national pool of scores that define the norm? And is my school placed in its position relative to schools that *also* have requested one of the exclusions along with mine, or are my school results (with exclusions) merely compared with the national pool such as it might be? This could
get complicated, since there are several possible exclusions for school districts who want them.

> So, beware of districts that may intentionally hide their weakness!!

What parent is going to know this?
At the top of page 2 on the .pdf link below you will find:

■ Do not use Math Computation when calculating Total and Composite scores

Court Update on my Complaint against OSPI and SBE

Friday 7-25-2008 was a preliminary hearing and the real deal will happen in 60 days.

I met with the representative from the Atty. Gen. office and we agreed that there is no dispute on the facts of what happened. The judge will likely need to rule on whether the actions that took place satisfied the requirements of SB 6534.

Did the actions of SBE and OSPI meet the requirements of SB 6534? .... which required a meeting that I maintain did not occur.. there was a brief window for emails to be sent but no meeting.

Here is my letter to SBE of 4-25-2008:

Dear State Board of Education Voting Members, 4-25-2008

On April 24th, 2008 in Thurston County Superior Court, I filed a legal complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief #08-2-00974-0. The relief I seek is to have OSPI and SBE follow the law SB6534. In your unanimous vote on Friday April 18th, 2008 I think that you violated the law by choosing not to follow it.

Having spent the 2006-2007 school year in the Seattle Public Schools, I am experienced with a board’s decision making process that often chooses to trust the hired professionals rather than thoroughly researching the action under consideration. For one example consider the unanimous vote on May 30th, 2007 by the Seattle School Directors to approve the Everyday Mathematics texts in the elementary school math adoption.

In the Everyday Math situation, after one year Seattle will have expended in excess of $4 million for materials, coaching and professional development on a book that ignores the essence of mathematics. That essence is the fact that mathematics is best learned by mastering increasingly sophisticated material, which is built layer upon layer. Yes, $4 million dollars to move in a direction opposed by National Math Advisory Panel Report Foundations for Success of March 13, 2008. On page 20 in a section titled A Need for Coherence the report finds the top-performing countries are more likely to expect closure after exposure, development, and refinement of a particular topic. These critical differences distinguish a spiral curriculum (like Everyday Mathematics) from one built on developing proficiency—a curriculum that expects proficiency in the topics that are presented before more complex or difficult topics are introduced.
It is likely that Seattle adopted these materials with very little thought because Everyday Mathematics was rated by OSPI as a most aligned math series with the WA Math EALRs and GLEs.

There are several reasons that I decided to take the time and make the effort as well as pay the $200 filing fee to take legal action against OSPI and SBE. It has become increasingly apparent that in too many cases governmental bodies do not follow the law. This has been quite apparent though out the ongoing saga of HB 1906 and SB6534. I will not go into all the details of failure in this communication. I will ask you to reject the proposal which will be submitted to you on Monday April 28th, 2008 because the law SB6534 has not been followed.

Your current charge is to develop and approve World Class Math Standards by following SB6534. This has not occurred and the law SB6534 has not been followed.

I wrote a letter to many of you on February 11th, 2008. I sent a letter to each SBE member on April 17th, 2008. I received no response to either letter.

{ Inserted thought... it is quite apparent that in many cases government is not responsive to the public. In addition to no response to the two mentioned letters I received no response to this letter either. It appears that to get a response requires paying $200 and going to court. Then the Government in some form responds but still not the SBE members who received the three letters.}

If you vote in the affirmative on Monday April 28th, 2008 to approve these standards, be aware of each of the following because it is apparent that you choose to over rule each of these points by your actions:

1. The Math Advisory Panel has not met and discussed any of this as required by law. The synergistic process of placing highly knowledgeable people about math together in a collaborative environment is exactly what I believe SB6534 required for Math Panel input. It should be noted that the Math Panel has several industry professionals who are very knowledgeable about mathematics on it. This is the recommended composition of a group involved in any standards revision as advocated by the 2004 NSF funded Mathematics Standards Study Group. Despite the fact that one of the recommendations of HB 1906 consultants Strategic Teaching was for mathematically knowledgeable industry professionals on the Math Standards Revision Team, OSPI ignored both the MSSG and Strategic Teaching recommendations in this regard.

2. Public Input was required but there was inadequate time to develop public input. When a document is continually revised and the promise is that the last revision will be posted on April 15th. Then that revision is sent out to Math Advisory Panelists at 7:00 AM on April 18th and posted a bit later on the Website, how is the public to intelligently respond in a meeting that is held at 1:30 PM of the same day as the release.

3. This development process has now been broken into a piecemeal arrangement. That was not done with the intention that it would help in the development of World Class Math Standards. It was done to provide summer professional development. This summer professional development was not mentioned as being necessary within the time frame of SB6534. Let us get the product correct, as SB6534 requires by following the process advocated by the law. In the current “Hurry Up Plan” huge gloss-overs are happening. Math panel does not meet. Public Input with less than 7 hours of reflective development time.

4. The meeting of April 18th had less than half of the SBE members physically present. I testified at that meeting as a member of the public as the Math Panel was not asked to prepare a statement. The Math Panel had never been consulted as an advisory panel in this situation. Strangely Dr George Bright and several members of the Standards Revision Team were on the agenda giving testimony and urging the SBE to adopt this report. I use the word strangely as they are not mentioned in SB6534. The failure of the Standards Revision Team to produce adequate Standards inspired the legislature to remove both the Dana Center and the Standards Revision Team from the Revision of Standards described in SB6534. Why is Dr Seeley of the Dana Center still involved with attempting to make modifications to the Standards less than one week prior to April 18? Why is the SBE hearing from the SRT team instead of the Math Panel?

5. Please reread my letter of April 17th, 2008 in its entirety.
a… I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.

b… Please do not finalize these K-8 standards this week.

c… Why are we panelists being deprived of time because OSPI wasted it?

d… The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve.

e… I thought the intent of the (2008) legislature was to have the SBE correct the poor direction given by OSPI in this process. Please do so.

You can read the full text of my legal complaint at:


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE Math Advisory Panelist
NCLB HQ Mathematics, Chemistry, Science
BA Mathematics, M.Ed

Related Blog Posts..
Letter of April 17, 2008

Sudhakar Kudva's letter of April 17, 2008

Marta Gray's Letter

Lloyd Embry and Marta comment

I need a nap response

In my view......
SB6534 came into being because HB1906 was unable to do the job because of the inadequate performance of OSPI in carrying out HB1906.

My contention is that SB6534 was not followed.
I made the SBE members fully aware that SB6534 was not followed but they intentionally ignored this requirement when they approved the k-8 standards.

Everday Math soldiers on despite NMAP criticism

Here is a communication I received from Barry Garelick:

It appears that the marketing people for Everyday Math are earning their salaries. There's a new promo on the web for EM: (I've reproduced it below) The main site is located at http://www.everyday mathsuccess. com/ There are also YouTube videos containing testimonials, etc. Of interest is the one at http://www.everyday mathsuccess. com/video- results.html which features people from Woodbridge NJ (other districts are there also). All sound bites. "Allows higher level dialogue in solving problems" etc.

In a promo on how EM really does emphasize learning "basic facts" it offers this about the WWC results:

"In 2006, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) stated that a handful of rigorously conducted experiments demonstrated that Everyday Mathematics had “potentially positive effects” on achievement compared with more traditional math programs. All other elementary mathematics programs reviewed by WWC as of this writing have been found to have “no discernible effects on mathematics achievement.” " See

I've reproduced one of the PDF promos below. It looks like they've picked up on the criticisms of EM and are now using it in their advertising. To wit: "There's nothing fuzzy about it". EM is a difficult animal to pin down on fuzziness, mainly because the problems in the workbooks are fairly good. The problem is that students don't spend enough time on a particular topic to be able to do the problems much less understand them. But a casual glance through the workbook would not provide this insight. The sentence that got to me was "Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math." While some of the traditional text books of the 50's and 60's had their bad points, I think this statement is over-generalized and extremely misleading. Such approach also produced generations of students who liked math. And ironically, many if not all of those students who hated math, purportedly as a result of the "traditional textbook-centered programs" are probably more proficient in the basic skills than those who have received the EM treatment without benefit of Kumon, or outside help.

Of course, EM's solution to the "textbook-centered" approach is to do away with a textbook. Students only have workbooks. The EM promoters' disdain for such "scripted" approaches is pure hypocrisy, since EM does have a particular script which is contained in the teacher's manual and provides the outline of daily lessons. Not very good, mind you, but still, there is a plan there which parents and students do not get the benefit of seeing--except in the "family letters" that students bring home with them that explain what they will be learning in a particular unit. Every unit is a hodge podge of topics, nested inside some main topic. There is no concentrated focus on any one topic that allows any kind of mastery learning. But the EM promoters have an answer for that one as well, per the promo below:

"Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk pace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge."

They didn't bother to talk about what research it was that showed this, but there is another module on their "research base". Much of their research was conducted by William Carroll, who has been on the EM/U of Chicago payroll for some time. Anyway, here's the promo. Read and weep.

How Everyday Mathematics Offers a Better Approach to Mathematics Mastery

There’s nothing fuzzy about it. Everyday Mathematics brings more clarity and rigor to math instruction, so students understand and appreciate the role of mathematics in daily life.

Everyday Mathematics, a comprehensive Pre-K-6 mathematics curriculum, not only embraces traditional goals of math education, but also sets out to accomplish two ambitious goals for the 21st century:

• To substantially raise expectations regarding the amount and range of math that students learn.

• To support teachers and students with the materials necessary to enable students to meet these higher expectations.

To provide more rigorous, balanced instruction, Everyday Mathematics:

• Emphasizes conceptual understanding while building mastery of basic skills.

• Explores a broad mathematics spectrum, not just basic arithmetic.

• Is based on how students learn and what they’re interested in while preparing them for their future mathematical needs.

Changing the Way We Teach Math

The accelerating demand for competence and problem-solving agility in mathematics requires improved methods for teaching math in the classroom. Teachers are no longer preparing students for a lifetime of pencil-and-paper calculations, but for future careers that demand a true understanding of how mathematics works at much higher levels.

Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math. It is consistent with the ways students actually learn math – building understanding over time – first through informal exposure, then through more formal and directed instruction.

Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk pace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge.
end of Barry's letter
A response from a reader to what Barry Garelick wrote ...

<< EM is a difficult animal to pin down on fuzziness, mainly because the problems in the workbooks are fairly good. The problem is that students don't spend enough time on a particular topic to be able to do the problems much less understand them.>>

------>>I disagree strongly. If you look through all the materials, you will find that the number of arithmetic problems in which both operands have two or more digits is very, very small. In other words, EM doesn't allow students to develop the ability to do sustained and error-free arithmetical computations.

<< EM is a difficult animal to pin down on fuzziness >>
------>>>It is extremely easy to pin down if you quote the teachers' guides. They state that they do not expect students to master material the first time around. They also state that not all students can be expected to master the long division algorithm.

I don't think it would be hard to put together an appropriate video response to the EM advertising videos that Barry describes.

End of response ...
Barry's response..
Good points. I should have clarified that a casual examination of the materials doesn't reveal these apparent weaknesses. Nor does it reveal that students are not taught the standard algorithms.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Math Program Manager in Seattle

From the Seattle Public Schools News Release....

Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Anna-Maria de la Fuente as Math Program Manager. In this role, Ms. de la Fuente will lead development of an aligned math curriculum for our system, one of the key strategies in our “Excellence for All” Strategic Plan. Ms. de la Fuente official start date in this role is September 1, but she will be collaborating with us over the summer.

Ms. de la Fuente has been the Seattle MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) Director for the past eight years. Based at the University of Washington, MESA is a K-12 pre-college program aimed at helping underrepresented students achieve their full potential in mathematics, engineering and science. During her tenure with MESA, Ms. de la Fuente led development, funding, implementation, and evaluation of new programs, including a ninth-grade bridge math transition program now operating at five Seattle high schools. Prior to joining the MESA staff, she taught mathematics, MESA, and Language Arts at Rainier Beach High School for eight years, and also served as the mathematics department chair. She has 20 years of teaching experience at the secondary level; and has also worked as a Pre-Calculus instructor in partnership with the University of Washington College of Engineering and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ms. de la Fuente earned a B.A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.A. degree in Education from Stanford University. She is enrolled in the University of Washington’s Leadership for Learning doctoral program, and will earn her Ed.D., focused on mathematics leadership and equity in 2009. In 2007, Ms. de la Fuente was awarded the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Doyle E. Winter Scholarship for Administrative Leadership. She is also a member of the steering committee for the Seattle Transition Math Project, aimed at engaging high school and community college math teachers in implementing the new College Readiness Standards.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Rosalind Wise for her deep commitment to students and teachers, and to her leadership in implementing EveryDay Mathematics across our system.

Ms. de la Fuente will lead development of an aligned math curriculum for our system.... Aligned with what?

She is also a member of the steering committee for the Seattle Transition Math Project
This is a significant improvement as Seattle TMP is a connection to teacher and student reality, which has been missing in the SPS Math Central administration for quite sometime.

Does the SBE College Prep plan signal even fewer resources for others?

I have large concerns with the SBE's actions this last week.

It still appears to me that we are turning the vast majority of resources toward College Prep for all. There will always be a local economy that needs plumbers, electricians and skilled trades people as well as retail sales employees etc. Children aspiring to be truck drivers may fail to see the need for College Prep high school and choose to drop out.

There still seems to be a large denial of the large variation of the human population.
The Algebra II for all for WA HS graduation (with some opting out allowed) suffers from some of the same shortcomings as the California Algebra I for all in in grade 8.

See the following EdWeek article......
Math Experts Question Wisdom of Calif. Algebra Rule

Which contains:

Yet Mr. Loveless, a former elementary school teacher in California, said policymakers there were wrongly assuming that simply enrolling students in 8th grade algebra will result in more of them becoming proficient in the subject. An examination of students’ math course-taking and test performance, he said, shows that premise to be false.

Another panelist, Vern Williams, echoed another of Mr. Loveless’ concerns: California schools, when faced with the reality that many of their 8th graders are not ready for Algebra 1, will simply water down those courses and craft classes that are Algebra 1 “in name only,” as Mr. Williams put it.

Mr. Williams, who has taught algebra for much of his 36-year career and now teaches in Falls Church, Va., said some students, even motivated ones, are not ready for algebra until 9th grade. By forcing students into that class early, schools risk not only discouraging struggling learners, but also holding back higher-achievers, who have to wait for classmates to catch up.

“Sometimes, it’s strictly the [lack of] math preparation” that causes students to struggle, Mr. Williams said. “But also, there are just kids, even bright kids who ... need to be exposed to a bit more math in 8th grade, or to a prealgebra course.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Some experts question Calif. eighth-graders' readiness for Algebra

Some experts question Calif. eighth-graders' readiness for algebra.

Some members of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, a group tasked by the White House with examining strategies for getting students ready to learn algebra, say California's plan to mandate eighth-grade algebra is unwise. "It's a shortsighted policy that confuses taking a course with learning," said panelist Tom Loveless, a Brookings Institution senior fellow. "The state has not been serious about preparing kids for algebra -- they're just throwing it on the schools. It's absolutely far-fetched." Education Week (premium article access compliments of (7/23)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Give the Children what they Need
Needs should trump Wants

The following is written by Charles R. Hoff former school director in Federal Way.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend my 50th year high school reunion. About half of our class was in attendance, and there were still some who I could recognize without a name tag!

Also in attendance was my high school Latin teacher who began teaching in 1947 and quit in 1970 “when discipline became an issue!” One has to wonder if she thought “discipline” was an issue in 1970 what she would think of today’s students!

There were several other members of my class who had been in educational systems, mostly in the East, who also echoed my Latin teacher’s observations.

While back East I also had the opportunity to visit with a former teacher colleague who spent his entire career teaching mathematics at one of Newsweek’s best rated high schools. He retired in 1994 and his comments on his students, AP Calculus, were very similar to my high school Latin teacher’s! Based upon these observations we are looking at a decline in classroom decorum from 1947 to 1994, or 47 years!

How much worse can it get? From 1994 to the present we have seen countless examples of what used to be considered inappropriate conduct by our youth and, in some cases, parents.. In the Federal Way district one student, caught in an illegal act was disciplined for this, this student’s parent’s promptly appealed the case to the School Board who upheld the punishment. The parents immediately took the student to Hawaii to serve out the suspension and took time to write the school a postcard extolling the life on the beach!

My friend, the Calculus teacher, suggests that all of this as came about due to “parents’ infatuation with their children.” Perhaps he has something there. In the 50’s, for sure, any discipline meted out by the school would be “refreshed” when the child came home. In fact many kids dreaded arriving at home far more than being at school.

Today’s parents are almost always defending their children, even when they have to know that their child’s behavior was inappropriate.

We have come to the age of “accommodation” in education where the preferences of the child, immature as they may be, take precedence over the wisdom and common sense of adults. In the past year a national poll found that parents’ top priority in a school was that their children be “satisfied.’

It would be much easier to “satisfy” kids in school with a mixture of Disney and action movies, than with Trigonometry and Algebra.

In one of our local papers there was an article about increasing achievement in some of our minorities. In this article it was suggested that “some minorities learn differently.” The facts may dispute this and certainly “Brown vs Topeka Board of Education” established that “separate but equal” was not the law of the land. However, educators are supposed to “accommodate” different styles of learning?

Just how many “styles of learning” are there to be accommodated to? Or could this be a very convenient excuse for simply not applying oneself? Could this be that the adults in this child’s life have not told the child the “secret” that learning is hard work, and they need to buckle down to this or the consequences will be very significant?

Are there a group of parents who would not want to destroy their children’s happiness with such a harsh discussion? I think so. How often have you seen a child who comes from a well educated family not follow this path? How often has this been attributed to an unstructured childhood where consequences were never an issue?

In most of the countries which have overtaken us in education, this infatuation with children has not overtaken common sense about youth and the regulation of their choices. In those countries the idea of children being “satisfied” with their schools probably isn’t a topic for discussion.

Will we ever wake up to the damage this is causing our children and our

The Washington League of Educational Voters has posted the following facts:

“We’re behind as a state and our kids are paying the price:

* Only 41% of high school graduates meet college entrance requirements in Washington.
* More than 40% of students need to take remedial classes in college.
* More than half of firms surveyed reported difficulty finding qualified job applicants in Washington.

Could this be because children got ....
the education that they “wanted”
rather than the education that they “needed?”

by C.R. Hoff

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Big Reverse from 30 years ago

From Sudhakar:

What Goes around comes around

His son a recent USA collegiate graduate as a Manager of Information Science requires additional training in India before being job ready in the USA.

Sudhakar contrasts this with his own situation 30 years ago when the opposite was true.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cal-Pass remediation report

Interesting, although secondary in this article, there’s an indication that whatever they’re doing in high school is effective in helping universities direct students on what topics they still need to strengthen before being college ready.

* Community colleges in California might be able to significantly reduce the need for remedial education among students by using the results of 11th grade state testing to better direct students prior to enrollment, says a new report from the California Partnership for Achieving Student Success, known as Cal-PASS. California State University campuses have had success in reducing the need for remediation by using high school results to show students very specifically what they need to do to be college-ready by the time they leave high school, and the report says community colleges could have similar results.

From the Summary:
A majority of students entering California community colleges require remediation in either math or English. In addition to being costly, remediation at college level doesn’t always translate into academic success for students.

Several studies have shown that there may be ways to identify students who will need remediation at college and correct that path before they have completed high school, thereby giving them stronger skills at college entry and better positioning them for college success. This study examines the relationships between California students’ high school achievement in math and English, measured by statewide standardized tests and grades, and the levels of and grades in their first attempted math and English courses at community college. If high school standardized test results or course grades predict college preparedness, the need for remediation in college may be reduced by putting students on a corrective trajectory before they leave high school.
California’s 110 community colleges do not use a statewide placement assessment system. They are governed by 72 independent, local governing boards, and each district has the right to establish appropriate methods to determine student placement. Colleges are required to consider multiple measures in placing students, using test scores as well as other sources of information about students’ skills, abilities, motivations, and social support. Despite the variation in approaches to assessment, they all point to the same conclusion: Many students entering community colleges are
not prepared to perform at college level in English and math. Remediation rates could be as high as 75 percent to 90 percent at some colleges
(Johnstone, 2004).

SPS Misfeasance - Why not a Recall?

In regard to the Superintendents raise and contract extension in which the introductory and action took place at the same meeting ....



Bylaw B45.00 Revised DEC 6, 2006

Motions and resolutions shall be presented in writing to provide opportunities for review and discussion. Routine matters can be placed on the consent agenda for introduction and final action at the meeting at which they are introduced. The Executive Committee shall approve the placement of a routine item on the consent agenda. An item may be removed from the consent agenda at the request of any Board member. Final action on an item removed from the consent agenda will still take place at the meeting in which it is introduced unless action is deferred to a later meeting by a majority vote of the Board. Emergency motions may also be introduced and acted upon at the meeting at which they are introduced. Such emergency motions shall state that immediate adoption is in the best interest of the District. Non-routine, non-emergency items shall be introduced at one meeting, and the final vote for adoption shall take place no earlier than the next succeeding regular or special Board meeting.

The Superintendent shall assure timely review of all motions and resolutions by central administration and where appropriate, site based staff, before Board approval or rejection, with the exception of emergency motions or other items deemed urgent by the Superintendent. Any written statements about a motion or resolution should be directed to the Superintendent, in his or her capacity as Secretary of the Board, or designee.

All motions or resolutions shall become effective upon adoption, unless a specific effective date is provided in the motion for adoption.

Policies as adopted or amended shall be included in the District’s policy manual and posted on the District’s web site.

Calm Down or Else from NY Times

What are the impacts on the teacher and instruction et al. when mainstreaming is increased in some situations????? This is seldom considered.

Dave Orbits sent the following comment to this article HERE.

Dave writes the following:

The time burden of a disruptive child on the teacher can be enormous. The cost in terms of the effect on teaching the rest of the students does not seem to bconsidered when choosing to mainstream these children. The lack of trained personnel to deal with these children, the negative effects on the child when inappropriately managed, and the emotional effects on the other children when witnessing one of these episodes must all take a toll. I’m sure there are benefits to “mainstreaming” some or many of these kids but as with most “schemes in education” I doubt the full costs were ever considered.

Teachers must just dread having these students in their classes, especially since they will be on the hook if something bad happens.

I wonder how widespread these problems are?

New Vision for Schools Proposes Broad Role

From the New York Times...HERE

Randi Weingarten, the New Yorker who is rising to become president of the American Federation of Teachers, says she wants to replace President Bush’s focus on standardized testing with a vision of public schools as community centers that help poor students succeed by offering not only solid classroom lessons but also medical and other services.
Skip to next paragraph
Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Randi Weingarten, in May, is nominated to lead the American Federation of Teachers.

Ms. Weingarten, 50, was elected Monday to the presidency of the national teachers union at the union’s annual convention. In a speech minutes later to the delegates gathered in Chicago, Ms. Weingarten criticized the No Child Left Behind law, President Bush’s signature domestic initiative, as “too badly broken to be fixed,” and outlined “a new vision of schools for the 21st century.”

“Can you imagine a federal law that promoted community schools — schools that serve the neediest children by bringing together under one roof all the services and activities they and their families need?” Ms. Weingarten asked in the speech.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Algebra NOW symbolizes broader issue

From the Sacramento Bee

Does anyone ever consider variation in the human population in these broad sweeping edicts?

Pickens Plan

OFF the Math topic

I like Wind and Nukes better than the current transfer of wealth.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ZERO seems to have changed for SPS Everyday Math

Here is what was contained in the School Board Action Report in regard to Everyday Math. It is one thing to be uninformed and accept this piece at face value in May 2007, but in light of NMAP to continue to base a k-12 math program on Everyday Math is total ignorance. Lets have a vote.... oh no 7-0 guess I am wrong.


• Continuous review of basic skills throughout curriculum
• Introduces math concepts and builds algorithmic efficiency
• Supports use of technology
• Continuous review and pre-teaching is a strong component

• Level of math is rigorous and accessible at multiple levels
• Enables teachers to differentiate for a variety of learning styles and needs.
• Uses the launch, explore summarize lesson design that is fundamental to CMP2

• Menu of assessments – both formative and summative
• Reading level is accessible
• Practice is embedded throughout units
• Student reflection piece is strong

Student Needs
• This program is very engaging for all students
• Data for Everyday Math schools is convincing that this programs has a significant impact on student achievement for all students.
• All materials are available in Spanish and includes a multilingual handbook in 5 languages
• Use of white boards helps teacher see students thinking during the lesson
The program is easy to use for teachers and easy to understand for parents
• This program was developed through an NSF grants and is the only math program shown to impact student achievement by the US Dept of Education. (see attached)



• Curriculum’s use of spiraling does not align well with middle school approach
• Some concepts are addressed earlier than they are in the GLEs
• Parents are skeptical about both Everyday Math and Investigations due, in part, to a lack of emphasis on familiar algorithms.
• Lessons are not multi-day and teachers will need to work to make connections clear to students.
• Organization of materials will require teachers to use different resources to plan and organize lessons and to do lot of copying.
• Units are not modular – so there is no flexibility in moving units around to different grade levels.
• Cost to replace consumables is high



Cost for student materials and teacher materials for grades K-5 for all schools is $1.3 million Professional Development is free for the first year for regular ed, special ed, ELL, AOL, multi-age classrooms, coaches and administrators.

Replace costs are approximately $370,000 annually


Vote for Randy Dorn - Make sure you are registered

Primaries are the third week in August.
It is time to replace our Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why are our schools failing our children?

Charlie Hoff writes in the Federal Way News:


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lack of Direction in Seattle Continues

Dear Directors and Superintendent, 7-09-2008

In the SPS Math seems to be talked about but not dealt with.

The following is from Sen. Pflug:
"Legislators from both parties will be striving to support quality math curriculum and high standards in spite of the state superintendent' s reluctance to change."

It certainly looks from the SPS Strategic Plan that there is an enormous reluctance to change math direction in Seattle.

At the board work session on Math in which IMP was proposed and at least delayed, little positive direction was provided.

It is now July, where is anything being proposed other than an allegiance to the policies and practices that produced an ever widening achievement gap in mathematics accompanied by declining math competence?

You cannot successfully adopt a 9-12 math text that aligns with NMAP, when the k-8 program is inadequate.
Promotion/non- promotion policies that require effective interventions are still neglected.
We have more time and more resources being pumped into a defective k-5 program that is in clear misalignment with the National Math Advisory Panel recommendations.

If you looked at available grades 9-12 SPS data, which is little and insufficient, it appears that College Prep Math used at RBHS might be a reasonable choice, given the current situation.

I think that the Mind Institute's Algebra readiness system should be piloted in grades 8 and 9 at some locations. This is an intervention program designed to deal with the mess we have. It is approved for use in California and MIND materials have a positive track record. It is hard to deal with a mess effectively when SPS administration continues in failing to acknowledge the mess. That is why the Strategic Plan in regard to Math is inadequate and unlikely to produce anything other than more of the same.

No one can possibly believe that the enormous number of topics that are covered in a year of EDM could be effectively supplemented by anything. The rhetoric of focusing on a reduced number of topics seems hard to envision using the incoherent spiral of Everyday Math. Is there an SPS guide that explains this topic reduction?

Last year despite the rhetoric it was follow the pacing plan and even 75 minutes a day of EDM seemed inadequate. Where is the EDM topic reduction discussed and outlined and when will it be put in place?

As Paul Kurose of Seattle TMP has said, "when small improvement results it is often the result of enormous changes (greater time and resources and often changing testing conditions and/or population) not the curriculum, but the curriculum gets the credit." Everyday Math in New York city is an excellent example of this.

If the district used MAP testing at Schmitz Park and North Beach as well as other elementary schools, the schools with waivers could be evaluated as pilots.

Attached is my testimony for this evening as well as a resignation letter from an Olympia School Board member.

At the state k-8 instructional materials meeting in Spokane it was asked whether a program should address well prepared students that had been successful in a high quality program or the students we currently have?

It appears that the SPS is all in favor of producing more of what we currently have k-5.
How is a realistic k-12 plan going to emerge? or are we sticking to the Strategic Plan?


Dan Dempsey


Board Members I am Dan Dempsey, July 9, 2008

When most people buy a car, they consider proven reliability often using Consumer Reports. Proven reliability was not even taken into consideration in the Everyday Math adoption. Looking at the track record of Everyday Math in most large Urban School districts reveals no reliability; this was a terrible choice. The school board voted unanimously to approve an Everyday Math adoption with a small Singapore supplement that turned out to be a $6 supplement that went unused.

The Everyday Math adoption School Board meeting of May 30th 2007 was not videoed or televised. The plan as briefly posted on the website included closing the achievement gap to zero over four or five years.

Recently an Olympia school board member resigned. I’ve attached his resignation letter. It includes:
It is my opinion that the system does not work and does not serve the students, their parents or the staff very well. ……
There is one common denominator ………
the lack of understanding and conflicting views about the role of a school board member. It is my opinion that this is a major issue facing this board and the community. I believe the role of a board member is one of action and not simply one of a “potted plant”.

If we had the video from May 2007, we would have been watching a 6-0 vote by potted plants. This board needs to take some responsibility for math and soon.

The board has little idea what was approved on May 30th nor have I.

Mr DeBell sometimes speaks like a co-adoption happened.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s Strategic Plan says:
SPS will write a scope and sequence for math and science and will adopt common grade level instructional materials where these are not already in existence.

Math • Grades K-5 Everyday Math and Singapore Math (implemented 2007-08)
• Grades 6-8 CMP2 (implemented 2006-07)
• Grades 9-12 (to be developed Fall 2008)

What does this mean???
Are we actually going to use the Singapore $6 supplementary book for next four years?

The SPS needs to evaluate math choices not on alignment with the State recommendations but from a realistic plan for producing results.

A real scientist doing Fred Hutch Cancer research says:
"It is only in "Educational Science" that a trial is planned, promoted, and pursued, with no measurable objectives at all. My theory is that it is a defining characteristic of all education initiatives."

Wow, we have the WASL and Edu-Soft testing. We don’t even have a valid reliable measuring instrument.

When an economical instrument like MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing is available, why do we have an expensive contract with Edu-Soft testing? Are we afraid of what an objective measure would reveal?

We have a really poor plan and no way to measure it.

This board needs to direct great attention to k-12 math and soon.


Here is the link to Olympia School Director Russ Lehman's resignation. This Daily Olympian article contains a link to download the resignation letter.

Discipline?? Try Charleston SC

So continuing the ideas from the RCW posting..... try THIS from Charleston SC.

How much will the public spend and in what contrived expensive ways rather than enforce the RCWs?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Classroom Discipline and the RCWs

So where is that optimum learning atmosphere ensured by the law?

After reading through a few comments and reflecting, one has to wonder if it is time for a class action lawsuit on behalf of teachers, students, and parents to force the SPS and other districts to obey the law and provide the optimum learning atmosphere.

Clearly in most places school administration does nothing so what happens must happen on an individual teacher level. In most cases the teacher will suffer retaliatory treatment should they attempt tp get administration to do the job descrobed by law.

So now the question is what about RCW 28A.400.110 found HERE

This refers to RCW 28A.600.020 found HERE

The next question should be what is going on with the apparently do nothing SEA union in this regard? (You can probably supply most other locals in place of SEA.)

RCW 28A.600.020
Exclusion of student from classroom — Written disciplinary procedures — Long-term suspension or expulsion.

(1) The rules adopted pursuant to RCW 28A.600.010 shall be interpreted to ensure that the optimum learning atmosphere of the classroom is maintained, and that the highest consideration is given to the judgment of qualified certificated educators regarding conditions necessary to maintain the optimum learning atmosphere.

(2) Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first. Except in emergency circumstances, the teacher first must attempt one or more alternative forms of corrective action. In no event without the consent of the teacher may an excluded student return to the class during the balance of that class or activity period or up to the following two days, or until the principal or his or her designee and the teacher have conferred.

(3) In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems. Such procedures shall provide that students may be excluded from their individual classes or activities for periods of time in excess of that provided in subsection (2) of this section if such students have repeatedly disrupted the learning of other students. The procedures must be consistent with the rules of the superintendent of public instruction and must provide for early involvement of parents in attempts to improve the student's behavior.

(4) The procedures shall assure, pursuant to RCW 28A.400.110, that all staff work cooperatively toward consistent enforcement of proper student behavior throughout each school as well as within each classroom.

(5) A principal shall consider imposing long-term suspension or expulsion as a sanction when deciding the appropriate disciplinary action for a student who, after July 27, 1997:

(a) Engages in two or more violations within a three-year period of RCW 9A.46.120, 28A.320.135, 28A.600.455, 28A.600.460, 28A.635.020, 28A.600.020, 28A.635.060, 9.41.280, or 28A.320.140; or

(b) Engages in one or more of the offenses listed in RCW 13.04.155.

The principal shall communicate the disciplinary action taken by the principal to the school personnel who referred the student to the principal for disciplinary action.

The fact that there are children who at times have no interest in learning and choose to disrupt others and yet have no significant consequences because administration prefers none seems to violate these laws.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Parade Magazine : ex-Sec of Labor speaks

Here is the Complete posting at Parade.
Sunday July 6th -- It is the forth story Newsmakers

Fixing Our Schools

Former Labor Secretary William Brock
leads the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, created to report on the state of U.S. education.

How can we fix American education?

They he states the same thing everyone says......

You’ve said publicly that we are failing our teachers. How?
We recruit new teachers largely from the bottom 30% of entering college students, train them, and then assign them to the toughest jobs in the most challenging schools with very low pay. When the results fall short, we tell them, “You just have to work harder.” Most feel that they have no voice in their schools. This is no way to treat professionals.

Why isn’t education a bigger political issue?
Primarily because there is no quick fix. It’s complex. Perhaps most of all, no one really wants to admit that we are leaving millions of children behind. Education is the key to better jobs, higher incomes, and greater growth in what has become an extremely competitive global economy. Nothing is more important than education. Absolutely nothing.

Same story ... Education is really important ... but check the radar screen at any governmental level ... Education hardly rates even close to top billing.

Looks like another hot-air government commission, this time it is called the:
New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.

I can hardly wait for the substantive improvement that will happen as a result of the latest commission.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Defining Characteristic of Education Studies
as seen by a real Scientist

Here is the punch line:

It is only in "Educational Science" that a trial is planned, promoted, and pursued, with no measurable objectives at all. My theory is that it is a defining characteristic of all education initiatives.

In regard to the 75 page .pdf report, which was published online in 1999 (posted here July 3 blog) and is called "The Principals (sic) of Educational Reform: Supporting Mathematics and Science Teaching in your School. A Handbook for Elementary and Middle School Principals."
of which Jeanne Century, is an author, I received the following from Dave Meyerson:

The comment from Dave follows:

Oy. How bad it this? .....

The remarkable things about the article are that:

1. It treats Principals as though they don't know what they are doing. They went through all this administrative training and didn't learn how to run a school? Is that really true?

2. It was published 9 years ago and that many years of reform math have only made students less knowledgeable.

3. 75 pages of recommendations and opinions, but not a single sentence dedicated to measuring success or failure of the the recommendations. No measurable primary or secondary objectives.

It is #3 that is so interesting to any scientist. Any science trial involves a pre-planned assessment of outcomes. Usually it works. Sometimes there are false positives and false negatives. Sometimes, like Vioxx, there is some data manipulation and it doesn't work the first time. It is only in "Educational Science" that a trial is planned, promoted, and pursued, with no measurable objectives at all. My theory is that it is a defining characteristic of all education initiatives.


Sudhakar on Myths

Sudhakar has a great posting on his blog.
Check out the last Few days HERE

Especially the piece on myths.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Academic Coaches losing jobs -Philadelphia

HERE first

and then HERE.

Letter to Barack Obama

Here is an interesting letter and it contains a link to a 75 page report that Barack Obama's Education adviser Jean Century co-authored.
Open letter to Barack Obama from John Dewey

I am very distressed to learn about your selection of Jeanne Century as one of your education advisers. She is director of the science program of University of Chicago's Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE), an organization which has been heavily involved with a horrificly lacking mathematics program called Everyday Mathematics—in fact, one of the co-directors of CEMSE was one of the developers of the program.

You will do what you do, I'm sure, but I truly hope that in formulating your positions on education, you take seriously the recommendations of the Presidentially appointed National Mathematics Advisory Panel. I also hope that you put aside partisan differences in judging such report and read it for what it is: an honest examination of what is the content that students must learn and master in elementary school in order to be prepared for algebra in 8th grade. The report also recommends what should be in such an algebra course.

I would imagine that neither you nor any of your staffers has read my columns at this website about my experiences at a graduate school of education where I take evening classes. I plan to teach middle or high school math when I retire in three years. I wrote the column a few years ago in the hopes of educating the public about what passes for educational theory and amounts to something resembling superstition, old wives' tales and out-and-out lies. Under the guise of what is called inquiry-based learning, education schools—as well as the administrations of an alarming number of public schools—have embraced this educational sham that puts process above product, and equity above content. Equity for minorities is achieved by dumbing down the curricula to such an extent that everyone achieves the same low level of education—which is to say none at all.

My use of a pseudonym to write my columns is for good reason. One does not challenge the status quo in education schools, and certainly not in public schools. To that end, I'd like to make you aware of a report, of which Ms. Century is listed as one of the authors. The report was published online in 1999 and is called "The Principals (sic) of Educational Reform: Supporting Mathematics and Science Teaching in your School. A Handbook for Elementary and Middle School Principals."
(75 page .pdf Report)
I found the following passage in the report particularly disturbing:

"You may have teachers in your school who are not at all interested in exploring ways to change their practice. If you have such resisters, it is important to do everything you can to persuade them to participate. Listen to their concerns, give them the professional development and materials necessary, and provide them with encouragement. There will always be people who are simply shut down to change. But the change can happen without them. Don't focus too much of your energy on these individuals, for you don't want to neglect those who are ready and willing. The reluctant ones will eventually need to come on board but at the beginning it is more important to make sure support is available for those who want it. Still, if you think resistant teachers are going to actively undermine your progress, you may wish to consider exploring ways to remove them from your school. You may find that the teacher is just as happy to leave the school as you may be to see him/her go." (Emphasis added)

I have a degree in mathematics –that's mathematics, not math education—and I take the subject seriously, as well as how it is taught. I have chosen to go into teaching because I see that math education is in a crisis and I would like to do my part to help open doors for students instead of the current practice of slamming them shut forever. That said, I'm afraid that I would qualify as one of the "resisters" mentioned in the above cited paragraph, if the type of teaching being advocated is inquiry based (student centered) and/or the curricula are any of several of those developed under grants from NSF. My daughter had Everyday Math in her elementary school and I worked with her at night to ensure she learned and mastered what was not being taught in her classes. I can assure you that the poor quality of Everyday Math had nothing to do with the quality of her teachers, and everything to do with the curriculum.

I am probably the most unoriginal person who ever lived, and any ideas I've had have probably occurred to hundreds of thousands of others. I mention this to let you know I am not unique. There are others like me who have real world experience and a solid education who would like to teach. There are also others like me who are on the fence regarding for whom they will cast their vote in November. Like me, those making that decision are forced to decide what is best for our children in terms of education. I would hope that you will not advance policies that continue the disservice that has been perpetrated on our children for the better part of two decades. On the other hand, I believe Lisa Keegan, (McCain's advisor) are much more aligned with how teaching should be conducted. Her ideas on education would be a change that I and many others (Democrats included) would welcome--something to which you might want to give some serious thought seeing as how you seem to be quite big on change.

In the spirit of non-partisanship, I remain,

Faithfully yours,

John Dewey

Published July 2, 2008

Do schools teach needed skills??

HERE is an Opinion.

When you have no story ... take a poll and write about what the general public believes.

Hey isn't that the same general public that has their opinions often created and driven by the same media taking the poll?

Looks Like Social Promotion is ending for Texas 8th graders

Check this out HERE

Goodbye social promotion!!!

Now look at Washington State's SBE their plan is for 24 credits for high school graduation but lets just keep moving those unqualified under educated kids into high school. Oh and lets be sure we have the legislature fund high school for 6 periods not just 5.

Hey I am all for better funding for schools if the schools will start requiring and assisting the students to learn more. Clearly under the last decade of Dr Bergeson's leadership there has not been more learning happening.. Where was the SBE standing while this took place?

I have not heard word one from either OSPI or the SBE about ending social promotion.
If the students are not prepared to enter grade 9 ... what is to be expected???

Check out TEXAS in the linked article and wonder what Washington is thinking ???

Where are those effective interventions??? We have clearly demonstrated with Segmented math that grade 11 is far too late to start trying to educate kids.
So we just change the rules .. still no need to provide the service that kids and families deserve.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bob Compton of 2mm speaks on a Challange

Personally, I know that China and India are not "Third World" countries, but that is because I've traveled to those countries and seen their transformation. Also, I deeply admire their cultures, their people and their progress.

The inspiration for the name "Third World Challenge" came from a statement made to me by a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education when I showed my film Two Million Minutes for the HGSE faculty. "We have nothing to learn from education systems in Third World countries," he stated, "Much less a Third World country that lacks freedom of speech." To my surprise, no other faculty member rose to challenge that statement.

While I certainly expected a more open-minded and globally aware audience at Harvard, I have now screened my film around the country and a surprisingly large segment of the American population believes India and China's K-12 education systems are inferior to that of the United States. While no American makes the statement with confidence of a Harvard Education professor, the conclusion often is the same - America is number one in education and always will be.

This of course is not true. For over 20 years American students' academic achievement has been declining vis-à-vis other developed countries. What is now surprising and worrisome is US students are even lagging the developing world.

If our athletic performance at the Olympics were as poor as our global academic performance it would be a national crisis and every level of government would be attempting to respond. That we blithely ignore the declining intellectual standards of American students seems almost insane. The cognitive skills of our children will determine both America's economic future and the economic future of each child.

But perhaps I overstate the high standards of the developing world, particularly India and China. So, to test that assumption, my company Indian Math Online has created the "Third World Challenge" - this is a shortened and greatly simplified version of the multi-day proficiency test that 10th graders in India must pass to go on to the 11th grade.

Think American education standards are higher than the Third World - why not have your 11th or 12th grade students try the Third World Challenge?After all, in just a few more years "the challenge" will be in the global marketplace for high paying jobs.

Good luck,

Bob Compton
Executive Producer
Two Million Minutes

More at:

The issue of Race in Arizona schools

This is not a math posting but given my interest in helping all children succeed academically through appropriate curricula I found this fascinating.

Given that a lot of dollars go into administrative positions about "ethnic awareness" etc. but that many employed in those positions rarely act to ensure that curricula are adopted that produce increased academic content achievement in the minority students for which they supposedly advocate, I find most of these positions of little value.

HERE is an article from the National Review.

This article really makes me wonder who runs our schools?

For that matter who runs our supposed democracy these days?

Looking at education in WA State, it is little wonder I do this wondering.

Looking at national energy policy, immigration policy, economic policy, education policy etc. you should wonder also. Clearly we are a nation in decline and our ineffective politicians explain a good deal of our difficulty.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

State Board of Education Election Announced

State Board elections announced
Declarations of candidacy must be received by Aug. 1

OLYMPIA - June 27, 2008 - Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Terry Bergeson will conduct an election in November 2008 for one elected position to the State Board of Education.

The open four-year position is for Western Region No. 4, currently held by Linda Lamb of Olympia. Her term expires January 2009.

The board is composed of 16 members: seven members appointed by the governor; two members from the eastern region of the state and three from the western region, all elected by public school directors; one at-large member elected by approved private schools; the superintendent of public instruction; and two student representatives selected by the State Board itself.

The announcement is HERE.

National Council on Teacher Quality - responses

Three more recipients comment on the four-part posting concerning the National Council on Teacher Quality [NCTQ] report posted a few days ago ...

For every mathematician who claims mathematics is more important than pedagogy, there will be at least 10 educators standing out arguing that pedagogy is more crucial. As long as the majority of us hold such either-or kind of mentality, our math education community will be divided, and our students' learning will hardly be improved systematically and substantially.

Improving teachers' mathematical knowledge is certainly not the final nor only cure, but it should definitely be one of the first and foremost issues for American math educators to focus on. After all, the problem we are facing is not that we have too many pedagogy-ignorant math Ph.D's teaching our elementary school kids, rather, it is there are too many mathematically ill-prepared teachers trying to teach for conceptual understanding in mathematics.

Xuhui L.


Dylan makes an excellent point. However, what I am finding in a current professional development project is that teachers must change their understandings of the mathematics they intend that their students learn in order to make significant changes in their pedagogy. So, the two (changes in math knowledge and changes in pedagogy) go hand in hand. Moreover, at least in the United States, it is not where teachers study that matters, it is with whom they study. General educators cannot help teachers rethink their mathematics, and mathematicians cannot do it either. Mathematics educators who know students' mathematics and its relationships to adult mathematics, and who know the pedagogy that increases the likelihood that the two meet, must be involved.

Pat T.


Another strategy might be to postpone formal mathematical Instruction until kids are older! It may be that the misunderstandings and confusions that get imbedded in young children's mind prior to 10 years of age are more dangerous than the advantages of pushing this stuff earlier. It's harder to undo the nonsense, plus the sense of futility. Maybe plenty of play with numbers--dice games, card games, pattern blocks, board games, checkers, chess, etc etc would work better and make it easier for kids to learn - and require fewer skilled teachers who know both their math and mathematical pedagogy. Of course, we're actually moving in the opposite direction.

Deborah M.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244