Thursday, January 25, 2007

Math Insurgency

A few days ago I had posted on a group called "Wheres The Math? " that was responsible for the now infamous Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth video.

The groups purpose was to force reform of Washington State's math standards and to advocate against "fuzzy math".

It appears they have had at least a small victory:

Seattle Times: Bergeson OKs independent math review

Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson has agreed to an independent review of state math standards that critics have called at least partly responsible for Washington students' poor math achievement.
Mukilteo parent Hugh Taylor, a member of the state "Where's the Math?" group, called U.S. math instruction "uniquely unsuccessful." He said that since the state developed the original math standards, allowing the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to conduct the standards review "would be like the fox guarding the henhouse."

He said he welcomed an independent review, "as long as it's conducted by a mathematician."
As Catherine alluded to earlier, a parent revolution is difficult to pull off, but with a little persistence it seems it is possible to make headway.

Now changing math standards will not by itself eliminate weak math curricula, but by raising the standards it will at least add little pressure.

I suspect that it's a lot easier for well connected middle class parents to force changes than the parents of disadvantaged kids. This is unfortunate because its middle class parents who are more likely to supplement the less that satisfactory math programs in school. Their kids are more likely to pass, despite the weakness' of schools, and cover up the inherent problems.

It's very unlikely there will ever be a mass national uprising, but hopefully all the disjointed successes that happen here and there in the country, inspire other small groups of concerned parents to take on the schools.

I think that the term "Math Wars" might not be appropriate. Instead to borrow a phrase from the Iraq War, as loaded as it is. What we have is a "Math Insurgency".