My continuing mission is to bring the crisis in our schools to the top of the national agenda. There is no one single crisis. The hijacking of our nation's MEALAC departments has created a generation of illiterate terror sympathizing dhimmis. The Public school system has hijacked the curriculum while standing in the way of parents who want a legitimate education but cannot use a voucher.......which BTW was signed inot law by Bush himself........
WE rank at the bottom in Math and Science of all industrialized nations. And if you beleive the Demmies that the system needs money, you're a fool. We have never spent as much money for as little result. Me? I think the whole damn system is broken. As in can't be fixed.
ELIMINATE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. now there's a beginning. Declare the teachers union an abject failure...........fire them all (like the air traffic controllers).There is no living organism left..........just gangrene. Time to remove the tube.........because the education system in America is PVS...........be merciful and kill it. Please allow parents the RIGHT TO CHOOSE!
Even math education is being politicized.
BY DIANE RAVITCH
Sunday, June 26, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
It seems our math educators no longer believe in the beauty and power of the principles of mathematics. They are continually in search of a fix that will make it easy, relevant, fun and even politically relevant. In the early 1990s, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued standards that disparaged basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, since all of these could be easily performed on a calculator. The council preferred real-life problem solving, using everyday situations. Attempts to solve problems without basic skills caused some critics, especially professional mathematicians, to deride the "new, new math" as "rainforest algebra."
In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998 "contemporary mathematics" textbook, Williamson Evers and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics. In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter "F" included factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal, finite set, formulas, fractions and functions. In the 1998 book, the index listed families (in poverty data), fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study, feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan, flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises and fund-raising carnival.
Those were the days of innocent dumbing-down. Now mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves "critical theorists." They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction. One of its precepts is "ethnomathematics," that is, the belief that different cultures have evolved different ways of using mathematics, and that students will learn best if taught in the ways that relate to their ancestral culture. From this perspective, traditional mathematics--the mathematics taught in universities around the world--is the property of Western civilization and is inexorably linked with the values of the oppressors and conquerors. The culturally attuned teacher will learn about the counting system of the ancient Mayans, ancient Africans, Papua New Guineans and other "nonmainstream" cultures.
Partisans of social-justice mathematics advocate an explicitly political agenda in the classroom. A new textbook, "Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers," shows how problem solving, ethnomathematics and political action can be merged. Among its topics are: "Sweatshop Accounting," with units on poverty, globalization and the unequal distribution of wealth. Another topic, drawn directly from ethnomathematics, is "Chicanos Have Math in Their Blood." Others include "The Transnational Capital Auction," "Multicultural Math," and "Home Buying While Brown or Black." Units of study include racial profiling, the war in Iraq, corporate control of the media and environmental racism. The theory behind the book is that "teaching math in a neutral manner is not possible." Teachers are supposed to vary the teaching of mathematics in relation to their students' race, sex, ethnicity and community.
This fusion of political correctness and relevance may be the next big thing to rock mathematics education, appealing as it does to political activists and to ethnic chauvinists.
It seems terribly old-fashioned to point out that the countries that regularly beat our students in international tests of mathematics do not use the subject to steer students into political action. They teach them instead that mathematics is a universal language that is as relevant and meaningful in Tokyo as it is in Paris, Nairobi and Chicago. The students who learn this universal language well will be the builders and shapers of technology in the 21st century. The students in American classes who fall prey to the political designs of their teachers and professors will not.
Ms. Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution.