kitchen table math, the sequel: open letter to Barack Obama

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

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 advisors. 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'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." (pdf file) 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 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

Obama & McCain ed advisors at AEP

CEMSE works to reverse negative trends in science, math education

Jeanne Century on "sustainability"

Math Underground on Jeanne Century

CEMSE isn't loading at the moment.


concerned said...

Thanks for the post!!

We need educational "change" which drastically improves opportunities for students!!

I hope that voters will investigate statements made by the candidates regarding education, rather than blindly taking them at "face" value :D

Catherine Johnson said...

I wonder if CEMSE is loading tonight.


It is.

Catherine Johnson said...

Obama has altogether too many people from the University of Chicago advising him as far as I can tell...

Catherine Johnson said...

oh, swell

Everyday Math is "helping to improve mathematics achievement at 10 Chicago public elementary schools that are undergoing restructuring."

concernedCTparent said...

Everyday Math continues to spread like bacteria, the antibiotic resistant strain.

I can't say that I'm pleased about Obama's choice of education advisors. The prospect of Everyday Math becoming even more embedded is something that makes me ill.

Anonymous said...

It's everywhere in IL, although some towns have tried it and gotten rid of it.


concernedCTparent said...

It never fails, though, that as soon as I read about a district getting rid of EM, I read about two others proudly announcing its adoption. Our district wasn't an early adopter, in fact, they just completed the third year of a five year plan for EM. It's not going anywhere soon. The middle school doesn't fare much better with CMP2. While I'm curious as to where my district will go at the end of the 5 year implementation, I'm not holding my breath.

VickyS said...

At the end of St. Paul's 5 year implentation, the school board quietly approved another 5 years of it by rubber stamping admin's recommendation for purchase and use of the 2007 materials.

No public hearing, no notice, nothing.

SteveH said...

In our case, Everyday Math had to be better than MathLand. It's all relative. In many cases, schools could do much better without changing the curriculum. Many schools supplement or superimpose mastery requirements on EM.

I don't confuse better and good. Why do schools?