kitchen table math, the sequel: 8/3/08 - 8/10/08

Friday, August 8, 2008

speaking of politics

Well, now that Rory has weighed in on John Edwards, I'm inspired to fill you in on my brief email exchange with Joe Williams. Joe is Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform and the author of Cheating Our Kids, which is a fantastic book: a page-turner. Somewhere in Cheating Our Kids (I can't find the page & neither can he) Joe predicts that when the leadership of civil rights organizations passes from the WWII generation to younger leaders, the alliance between the teachers' unions will end and the power the unions wield over the Democratic Party will weaken significantly.

I asked Joe whether this development means that day has arrived, and he replied that if it hasn't, it's close.

If so, we are living in interesting times, all of a sudden.

my progress bar

Here's today's progress bar from my Scrivener program.

This little doohickey is incredibly motivating and reinforcing, although when you go into word deficit by cutting sections things can get hairy, motivation-wise.

Say you start a writing session by cutting a thousand words. The Session target bar doesn't count anything you write until you've made up the lost thousand. Scrivener needs to create a Session target for revising & cutting.

The first chapter of Temple's & my new book was huge....was it 60 pages? 80? I've forgotten. It was so out of control that our editor told me not to revise it until I'd revised all the other chapters. That way I'd know what needed to stay and what could go.

So that's what I did, and when I finally re-read the first chapter, a year after I'd written it or thereabouts, I was aghast. What a mess --- what a long-winded, barely comprehensible, almost psychotically verbose mess!

I went at that thing with a buzz saw.

After our editor read it, she called and said, "You cut that thing to pieces."

She sounded surprised. Surprised and happy.

Scrivener needs a doohickey that rewards and reinforces reductions in Word Count.

Edwards is a son of a ....

Edwards admits to extramarital affair -

Edwards is a son of a something... besides for being a son of a mill worker.

lagging technology diffusion in real life

Remember this observation from The Race Between Education and Technology?

It is clear that the farmer with a relatively high level of education has tended to adopt productive innovations earlier than the farmer with relatively little education.

Greenscaper Bob describes the same phenomenon in indoor plantscaping, where he says the U.S. is 30 years behind Europe:

If we don't understand the difference between capillary action and osmosis, it's a symptom of an education problem. If we don’t understand that plants have no intelligence to start and stop “drinking” water, it's a symptom of an education problem. If we believe a clay pot and saucer is the best way to maintain plants in containers, it's a symptom of an education problem. If we think the term “self-watering” is synonymous with sub-irrigation, it's a symptom of an education problem.

I see these beliefs expressed every day of my blogging research on the web. They lead to an opinion that our level of science education in the field of gardening and horticulture is woefully weak. Is this an anomaly peculiar to the field of horticulture or is it symptomatic of our overall education?

David Brooks wrote an op-ed piece yesterday titled The Biggest Issue and benchmarked our education decline around 1975. I’ve been an eyewitness to much of this in the field of “ornamental” horticulture, which attracted high school students to land grant colleges by the thousands in the ‘70s.

This was the time of the biggest houseplant boom of all time. Ferns in macramé hangers were everywhere. As a mid-life career changer from IBM and the business of data processing I was caught up in it too. I seriously thought of buying a plant shop in Southern California. Instead, I found my way into the field of interior plantscaping.

That was the beginning of my discovery about the techno-averse, anti-business character of the ornamental horticulture world. As I discovered the prevailing practice of “poke and pour” interior plant maintenance, I started looking for better ways to water and found them.

I didn’t have to look too far. Sub-irrigation planters were already well established in Europe by the 1970s. They were, however, essentially unknown here in the U.S. Over thirty years later, thanks to our woefully deficient science education they still are.

Our education system is the top rung issue that will most likely guide my vote in the coming presidential election. I believe it is the issue that will have the greatest impact on the quality of life of our young people and future generations. We simply cannot afford to have “flat earth” believers competing in a flat earth global economy.

Greenscaper Bob
It's Our Education, Stupid
Inside Urban Green

Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
Jimmy graduates

The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
Pushy parents raise more successful kids

The Race Between Education and Technology book review
The Race Between Ed & Tech: excerpt & TOC & SAT scores & public loss of confidence in the schools
The Race Between Ed & Tech: the Great Compression
the Great Compression, part 2
ED in '08: America's schools
comments on Knowledge Schools
the future
the stick kids from mud island
educated workers and technology diffusion
declining value of college degree
Goldin, Katz and fans
best article thus far: Chronicle of Higher Education on The Race
Tyler Cowan on The Race (NY Times)
happiness inequality down...
an example of lagging technology diffusion in the U.S.

the Times reviews The Race, finally
IQ, college, and 2008 election
Bloomington High School & "path dependency"
the election debate that should have been

Thursday, August 7, 2008

C-a-l-cu-lus AP, hardest class in his-to-ry

New words for a song stuck in my head.

Hilarious argument for school choice

You can’t make this stuff up. Although this clip is from the popular "Yes Prime Minister” British TV series, it seems to reflect many real life discussions about school choice that take place in our country.

But apparently The YM and YPM series are admired for showing the reality of political life combined with British humor. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was very impressed with the series and once stated: "Its closely observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy".

yes (Prime) Minister

This clip is chock full of tragicomic lines and it’s hard to pick a favorite. Certainly this one where Humphrey attempts to defend the very existence of the national education department is priceless.

Humphrey: “Who would plan for the future?

Prime Minister: Are you
saying that education today in Britain is what the department PLANNED?

Humphrey: Well, uh, no, of course not!

H/T to Jay P. Greene.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

the unbearable earnestness of PaperToolsPro

1. Writing research papers is not perceived to be fun.
2. Writing note cards is tedious.
3. Writing research papers requires organizational skills students often lack or do not apply to research assignments.
4. The value of documenting the source of information does not make sense to students.
5. Students often think they put information in their own words, but they don’t.
6. Beginning an outline or draft from a blank screen is intimidating.
7. MLA, APA, Chicago Style…Students don’t understand it is important to format documentation accurately.

I'd say that about covers it.

I didn't mean it

I shouldn't be making sport of PaperToolsPro, which looks like it may be a terrific program for students -- (here's the description on the Scrivener web site).

The pitfalls list reminded me of my all-time favorite National Enquirer headline: "Do You Know the 1,110 Reasons Why Marriage Makes Women Sick?" So I had to post.

But if PaperToolsPro has actually done something about all of these pitfalls, a copy of it may be in my future, too, along with SuperMemo.

Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve

(full-size figure here)

I've always wanted to know this!

PaperToolsPro explains the chart:

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve reveals that we forget new information rapidly unless we review it.

After 20 minutes, we recall 58.2%

1 hour 44.2%

9 hours 35.8%

1 day 33.7%

2 days 27.8%

6 days 25.4%

31 days 21.1%

SuperMemo is in my future, but I haven't figured out which one.

I'll probably have to try the online version, depending on whether I can figure out the user interface.

help for the afflicted, part 2

I've launched my anti-procrastination project this summer, and have just this afternoon made a major discovery: Scrivener has a progress bar! (source: Wine on the Keyboard)

This isn't a great photo of it, meaning you may not be able to see, from this image, how reinforcing this thing is.

I'm trying to get a revision of my book proposal started, which means I'm in Writer Hell, so I set 500 words as my "Session target" (a reasonable goal) which meant that I could see progress at once.

The reason I haven't posted a Screen Grab of my own highly reinforcing "Project Target" icon is that it disappears the minute I open Screen Grab.

Also in the category of riveting computer problems: I can't log onto flickr anymore, although I can still upload photos from my Desktop for some unknown reason.

These are the kinds of distractions the "Project Targets" progress bar was designed to defeat.

I love Scrivener. Love it, love it, love it. I wrote all of Temple's (2nd) book on it, and I have everything in ONE Scrivener Project: all the drafts, all the research, all the interviews --- plus all my ktm stuff, which is a whole lot of stuff.

I love Scrivener so much I'm going to try to see if I can get C. to use it. Thus far, he's been resistant.

Oh, well. He may have to wait until school life gets a whole lot more painful to see the beauty of this thing.

bonus points

I just noticed this comment under the "writer's paradise" post:

For longer blog articles scrivener is a god send. It tends to be a little overkill for shorter ones.

(off topic, you write about apple and just now found out about scrivener? What next, iPhoto?)

Scrivener - A Writer's Paradise
help for the afflicted, part 1
procrastinating chickens (the perils of long-duration behavior)
Piers Steel's meta-theory of procrastination
"Structured Procrastination" by John Perry

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

news flash: happiness inequality down

from the TIMES:
Despite the fact that income inequality — the chasm between rich and poor — has grown to levels rarely seen outside the third world, happiness inequality in the United States seems to have declined sharply over the past 35 years. And that is not because everyone is just that much more cheerful.

According to new research by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the happiness gap between blacks and whites has fallen by two-thirds since the early 1970s. The gender gap (women used to be happier than men) has disappeared. Most significant, the disparity in happiness within demographic groups has also shrunk: the unhappiest 25 percent of the population has gotten a lot happier. The happiest quarter is less cheerful.

It seems odd that happiness would become more egalitarian over a period in which the share of the nation’s income sucked in by the richest 1 percent of Americans rose from 7 percent to 17 percent. In fact, the report does find a growing happiness gap between Americans with higher levels of education and those with less, which is roughly in line with the widening pay gap between the skilled and unskilled.

from the author of the paper:
Two trends are pretty clear. First, average happiness is roughly unchanged since the 1970’s. And second, happiness inequality — measured here as the variance of happiness — fell pretty dramatically from 1972 until the late 1980’s; this compression has since stalled, and about one third of the total decline has subsequently been reversed.


The good news is that the unhappy end of the distribution has become somewhat happier; the bad news is that the happy end has become less happy.

Apparently women either are or are not getting less happy as a group. Who can say?

Off the top of my head, I'm going to guess that it was more fun being rich when you could live off your interest as opposed to the 100 hours of billable time the working rich have to put in these days. When I say "have to," I mean have to, at least in the case of rich attorneys; apparently judges don't give a lot of incompletes.

NBER digest of the shorter hours paper available here.

Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
Jimmy graduates

The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
Pushy parents raise more successful kids

The Race Between Education and Technology book review
The Race Between Ed & Tech: excerpt & TOC & SAT scores & public loss of confidence in the schools
The Race Between Ed & Tech: the Great Compression
the Great Compression, part 2
ED in '08: America's schools
comments on Knowledge Schools
the future
the stick kids from mud island
educated workers and technology diffusion
declining value of college degree
Goldin, Katz and fans
best article thus far: Chronicle of Higher Education on The Race
Tyler Cowan on The Race (NY Times)
happiness inequality down...
an example of lagging technology diffusion in the U.S.

the Times reviews The Race, finally
IQ, college, and 2008 election
Blooming High School & "path dependency"
the election debate that should have been

Monday, August 4, 2008

your afterschooling problems solved!

Ken has posted a link to a fantastic idea for an afterschool program.

You must go and vote; the winner gets $10,000 seed money.

Bronze Inc

A program like this would have solved soooooo many problems for me. Instead of death-marching my middle school school boy through hours of afterschooling, he could have been zipping through these programs, studying and competing with peers (he's so much more focused studying with a friend), developing great study habits, learning high-quality content, earning points, and playing video games after all this has occurred instead of before.

This summer has been great, precisely because I'm not death-marching my kid through hours of summer math and reading. With his massive summer assignment list from Hogwarts, he has more work to do than I ever dreamed of giving him, and he's doing it cheerfully and happily because somebody else, not me, told him to do it. In 7 weeks he's read A Raisin in the Sun, Fahrenheit 451, Angela's Ashes, Last Days of Summer, Angels and Demons, and Guns, Germs, and Steel while also attending Teenscape, the fantastic program our local rec department puts on for 7th & 8th grade kids.

At this point he's 120 pages ahead of schedule and hasn't broken a sweat.

Afterschooling is a tough row to hoe.

A DI/Core Knowledge afterschool program ----- woo hoo!

golden oldy

February 1994:

It's time to recognize that, for many students, real mathematical power, on the one hand, and facility with multidigit, pencil-and-paper computational algorithms, on the other, are mutually exclusive. In fact, it's time to acknowledge that continuing to teach these skills to our students is not only unnecessary, but counterproductive and downright dangerous.


Shouldn't we be as eager to end our obsessive love affair with pencil-and-paper computation as we were to move on from outhouses and sundials? In short, we know and should agree that the long-division "gazinta'' (goes into, as in four "goes into'' 31 seven times ... ) algorithm and its computational cousins are obsolete in light of everyday societal realities.

It's Time to Abandon Computational Algorithms
by Steven Leinwand
Education Week

I wonder whether he regrets writing that piece?

Possibly not.

Tyler Cowan on The Race

The most commonly cited culprits for the income inequality in America — outsourcing, immigration and the gains of the super-rich — are diversions from the main issue. Instead, the problem is largely one of (a lack of) education.


Starting about 1950, the relative returns for schooling rose, and they skyrocketed after 1980. The reason is supply and demand. For the first time in American history, the current generation is not significantly more educated than its parents. Those in need of skilled labor are bidding for a relatively stagnant supply and so must pay more.

The return for a college education, in percentage terms, is now about what it was in America’s Gilded Age in the late 19th century; this drives the current scramble to get into top colleges and universities. In contrast, from 1915 to 1950, the relative return for education fell, mostly because more new college graduates competed for a relatively few top jobs, and that kept top wages from rising too high.

Professors Goldin and Katz portray a kind of race. Improvements in technology have raised the gains for those with enough skills to handle complex jobs. The resulting inequalities are bid back down only as more people receive more education and move up the wage ladder.

Income distribution thus depends on the balance between technological progress and access to college and postgraduate study. The problem isn’t so much capitalism as it is that American lower education does not prepare enough people to receive gains from American higher education.


It doesn’t suffice simply to increase the number of people in college; rather the new students must be prepared to learn. There is, however, no single magic bullet.

Pessimists like Charles Murray, co-author of the much-debated 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” have argued that only so many individuals are educable at a high level. If that were the case, current levels of inequality might be here to stay.

But the evidence suggests that when additional higher education becomes available, it offers returns in the range of 10 to 14 percent per year of college, at least for the first newcomers to enroll.

Nonetheless it will, sooner or later, become increasingly difficult to deliver the gains from college — not to mention postgraduate study — to the entire population. Technology is advancing faster than our ability to educate. So even if inequality declines today, it may well intensify in the future. Even if American education improves at every level, the largely not-for-profit educational sector may simply be less dynamic than the progress of new technologies.

The lesson is this: Economists are homing in on the key to the inequality problem, but don’t think any solution will necessarily last for long.

Why Is Income Inequality in America So Pronounced? Consider Education
Tyler Cowen
Published: May 17, 2007

Ultimately, this is my question: does the race never end?

Or does "skill-biased technology change" just keep going and going and going until pretty soon you have to know calculus to turn on the TV. Speaking of which, we're not too far from that point around here, I often feel. At a minimum, being able to turn on the TV in our family room and actually watch something on it requires either genius-level working memory or months of deliberate practice. The set-up alone is complicated enough, but on top of that Verizon keeps changing the channel line-up. Seeing as how the cheapest package Verizon offers gives you 6 or 7 hundred thousand different channels to choose amongst, knowing where on the number line USA Network is located today is a job for SuperMemo.

I've got to get back to ALEKS. Soon.

Anyways...assuming the education system or the business world is able to create and distribute highly effective, efficient, and advanced education to the masses (the business world appears to be trying), presumably there's still going to be a limit on how far people can go in higher education, or how far they want to go, or maybe just how many genius trainers we can recruit who are patient enough to teach vector autoregression incrementally to the rest of us, step by step, day by day, until we finally get it 10 or 20 years down the line.

Once we reach that limit, then what?

Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
Jimmy graduates

The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
Pushy parents raise more successful kids

The Race Between Education and Technology book review
The Race Between Ed & Tech: excerpt & TOC & SAT scores & public loss of confidence in the schools
The Race Between Ed & Tech: the Great Compression
the Great Compression, part 2
ED in '08: America's schools
comments on Knowledge Schools
the future
the stick kids from mud island
educated workers and technology diffusion
declining value of college degree
Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
Goldin, Katz and fans
best article thus far: Chronicle of Higher Education on The Race
Tyler Cowan on The Race (NY Times)
happiness inequality down...
an example of lagging technology diffusion in the U.S.

the Times reviews The Race, finally
The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
IQ, college, and 2008 election
Bloomington High School & "path dependency"
the election debate that should have been

closed shop

After nearly 20 years of working as a television writer, I made a radical life decision: to teach English at an L.A. public high school. I felt it was time for me to make a difference, to share my passion for language and literature with the next generation....I braced myself to keep going even if there were times of struggle, of heartbreak, of feeling inadequate and humiliated, even if there were times when I wanted to weep from frustration, even if I sweated through dark nights of the soul overwhelmed by the futility of it all.

And indeed, I have experienced all that. But what's crazy is that I haven't even set foot in a classroom yet.

By state law, I cannot teach in a California public school without a credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.


But just applying to a teaching-credential program has taken me months of pointless, numbing, bewildering toil. I've submitted stacks of applications, online and on paper, along with college transcripts and letters of recommendation. I've written a five-page letter of "self-reflection," completed 45 hours of early field experience, endured a TB test and had my fingerprints taken to prove that I'm not a convicted felon. And that was just to start the actual work: proving I am "highly qualified."


I have a bachelor of arts degree in English from Bryn Mawr and have spent my entire adult life as a working writer -- and all I want is to sign up to take the education classes I need before I walk into a classroom. Won't my degree and my life's work qualify me at least to sign up for those classes? Not even close.

Testing my patience
Ellie Herman

Presidential politics and school vouchers

Will both presidential candidates end up supporting vouchers for public charter schools?

John McCain endorsed the Education Equality Project, thus aligning himself with Al Sharpton and Joel Klein on calling for immediate steps to “Empower parents by giving them a meaningful voice in where their children are educated including public charter schools.

Strange bedfellows, right?

From McCain’s speech to the Urban League:

If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform.


Under my reforms, parents will exercise freedom of choice in obtaining extra help for children who are falling behind. As it is, federal aid to parents for tutoring for their children has to go through another bureaucracy. They can't purchase the tutoring directly, without dealing with the same education establishment that failed their children in the first place. These needless restrictions will be removed. If a student needs extra help, parents will be able to sign them up to get it, with direct public support.
Some of these reforms, and others, are contained in a Statement of Principles drafted by a group dedicated to finally changing the status quo in our education system. The Education Equality Project has brought together leaders from all across the political spectrum, including school Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City. Chancellor Klein is a strong supporter of charter schools, because he understands that fundamental reform is needed. As he puts it, "in large urban areas the culture of public education is broken. If you don't fix this culture, then you are not going to be able to make the kind of changes that are needed." Among others who share this conviction are Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, Chancellor Michelle Rhee of Washington, and Harold Ford, Junior. You know that a reform movement is truly bipartisan when J.C. Watts and Al Sharpton are both members.
And today I am proud to add my name as well to the list of those who support the aims and principles of the Education Equality Project.
But one name is still missing, Senator Obama's.
My opponent talks a great deal about hope and change, and education is as good a test as any of his seriousness. The Education Equality Project is a practical plan for delivering change and restoring hope for children and parents who need a lot of both. And if Senator Obama continues to defer to the teachers unions, instead of committing to real reform, then he should start looking for new slogans.

Sounds like a challenge to Obama, who has not formally signed on with either Education Equality Project or the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. It has been reported that Obama agrees with the goal underlying both statements that schools need to improve for all children, but has not stated a preference for one approach or the other.

It will be interesting to see how the debate shapes up as we get nearer to the November elections. Although education may not be the top issue of this presidential race, its relationship to our economic well-being may be garnering the attention of more voters, perhaps helped in part by discussions about this book.

According to some survey results, most African Americans and Hispanics support vouchers. Additionally, in Florida they found that combining a voucher proposal with a requirement that 65 percent of every education dollar be spent in the classroom dramatically increased its support among voters.

I think it’s likely that Obama will come out in support of school vouchers, modifying his position in the same manner he did when he came out in support of offshore oil drilling last week. He may already have a script for supporting vouchers while not totally dismissing the concerns of the teachers unions and other interested groups. How about this?

"At some point, people are going to have to make decisions, do we want to keep on arguing or are we going to get things done? What I will not do, and this has always been my position, is to support a plan that suggests that drilling is the answer to our energy problems vouchers are the answer to our education problems. If we've a plan on the table that I think meets the goals that America has to set, and there are some things in there that I don't like, then, obviously, that's something that, you know, I would consider because that's the nature of how we govern in a democracy.”

I’m as cynical as most anyone when it comes to politics, but I do think it would be a good thing for both presidential candidates to endorse vouchers.

Grade compression at colleges and universities

Only in the last few months, thanks in part to Catherine, have I become aware of how grade compression has permeated our grade schools.
My first experience with this phenomenon was over a dozen years ago, when I finished up my PhD and began adjuncting at local colleges.

While the consequences of grade compression in colleges and universities are probably similar to its consequences in grade schools--among other things, disfavoring the brightest students by clumping grades together into an ever smaller number of slots--the underlying forces, my experience suggests, are quite different.

On the one hand, I'd get emails from deans bemoaning the institution's rampant grade inflation and asking instructors to be sparing with A's. On the other hand, I'd get complaints from students who received anything below a B. Sometimes those students would successfully lobby the very deans who'd sent the emails, who'd then ask me to change C's to B's.

The only way to keep everyone happy--a key consideration for adjuncts, whose standing is largely a function of student evaluations, and whose renewal is at the pleasure of deans-- was to make B the new C (and D, and sometimes F), and compress all grades into a B- to A range.

So I'd reserve the A's for the two or three best students, including some I'd prefer to give A-'s to; translate the B's and B+'s to A-'s, B-'s to B+'s, and everything else to a B. It was more important, I felt, to make finer distinctions at the top than the bottom. That way, the very best might still gain some distinction--albeit not nearly as much as they once did.

After a 4-year hiatus from teaching, I've returned to find that my A-B grade scale is no longer compressed enough for many students...

But more on that in my next post.

(Cross posted at Out in Left Field).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

love means never having to say...'re sorry

W. Post article about Montgomery County's acclerated math program

The Washington Post Magazine in the Sunday edition has an article by Emily Messner about the accelerated math program in Montgomery County, Maryland.

In the article she profiles Eric Walstein, a revered high school math teacher who complains that many students coming into the accelerated math courses in high school do not have mastery of the basic skills. And these are the accelerated students!

Maryland has long had a "pretend" algebra exam, which produces results showing that many Montgomery County students are proficient in algebra in 8th grade. Yeah, if your exam concentrates on non-algebra type problems, you'll get all kinds of good results. Why not call it a calculus exam and really brag?

Fans of KTM may remember that Montgomery County piloted Singapore Math in 4 schools in 1999 - 2000 and then said if they wanted to continue with it, to pay for it on their own. Although the County's own study showed the pilot was successful, adopting it County-wide would have raised questions about what was going on before, plus it had the potential of not eliminating the achievement gap. Though the program would have floated and raised all boats, the achievement gap would have still existed. The usual course of action is to dumb things down and eliminate the achievement gap that way. If you can't raise the water, lower the bridge. Some schools in Montgomery County are using Everyday Math. I know Woodfield Elementary uses EM; they were one of the schools piloting Singapore Math.

The Post article talks about students who took

above-grade-level math and getting good grades, yet did not seem to have a firm grasp of the material. The curriculum is being "narrowed and shallowed," Walstein said. "The philosophy is that they squeeze you out the top like a tube of toothpaste. That's what Montgomery County math is."

This thesis has become Walstein's obsession: In its drive to be the best, please affluent parents and close the achievement gap on standardized tests, the county is accelerating too many students in math, at the expense of the curriculum -- and the students. The average accelerated math student "thinks he's fine. His parents think he's fine. The school system says he's fine. But he's not fine!" Walstein declares on one occasion. On another, Walstein is even less diplomatic. " 'We have the best courses and there's no achievement gap and everything is wonderful,' " he says, parroting the message he believes county administrators are trying to project.

"The problem is, they're lying!"

Another interesting quote from the article:

"You would have a hard time finding one math teacher in this county who supports the scope and sequence of the way math is taught,"says Billie Bradshaw, the math and science magnet program coordinator at Poolesville High School [in Montgomery County, Maryland].