David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Math, Meyer, Manager, and I Can't Find a Word for UN that Starts with "M"

Math: My daughter, who attends an elementary school in the Alpine School District, calls it "coloring book math." Here at LocalCommentary.com, we call it "The Emperor's New Math" - alluding to the folk tale with a very similar name and also to the fact that the Alpine School District sometimes seems a little too much like an empire. You might have heard the radio ads calling it by its official name, "Investigations and Connected Math" - and advising that it's about to spread to other school districts in Utah.

It's possible that we parents in the Alpine School District are giving our children a competitive disadvantage against schoolchildren from around the state, if we try to stop an ineffective math curriculum from spreading. (For the sake of our children's ability to compete, wouldn't we want everyone to use it if we have to?) But if you really do want to oppose it, you can sign a petition at TeachUtahKids.com. I did. It reads, "We, the undersigned, state that the Investigations and Connected Math programs, newly implemented in the Alpine School District, do not teach our children the fundamental math skills they must know to succeed in furthering their education and, therefore, should be replaced by traditional math programs."

Meyer: Don't miss Dick Meyer's superb piece on the havoc Katrina is still wreaking in the nation's two major political parties and their philosophies.

Manager: Neal Peirce writes that the Katrina recovery project needs an impeccably honest, powerful manager at the federal level. It's hard to disagree, but two things are troubling about the notion. First, isn't it sad that local and state officials clearly cannot be trusted? And shouldn't we think twice about giving our national government that much additional power, at the expense of the states?

John Bolton, American at the UN: Bret Stephens gives a very interesting account of how things are going for John Bolton and the US at the UN. If, after reading Stephens, you wonder why we don't just loose the moorings of that piece of Manhattan and sail it to another hemisphere, just remember what Sun Tzu said about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Leslie Dalton writes (9/22/05):

I learned this morning in a meeting with Superintendent Henshaw, that the District has taken a milder stance on Investigations math over the last three years. He even went so far as to say that the way they started off was a mistake. Ideally, at this point, the teachers are supposed to be evaluating their students' abilities, and then using Investigations along with other curriculum in order to help the students learn what they need to know. So in a perfect classroom, there would be no complaints about students not getting enough; however, Sup. Henshaw also admitted that he thinks this probably isn't working out as well as it should in every school. He believes that if it were working properly, parents wouldn't have a problem with the program. Perhaps the thing to do now is to make sure each of our children's teachers is following District guidelines. I don't think a petition to change the curriculum (or even re-examine it) will make a difference until they have exhausted all efforts to make this work with the modifications they've implemented.

David Rodeback replies (9/22/05):

So the key to succeeding with the math program's is not using it as it was designed to be used? Such an admission of failure must cause pain at the District office.

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