November 08, 2006
The muddle coming from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is troubling. Brief history: After establishing Reform "fuzzy" Math education (i.e., estimate this, guess at that) as the standard in many American schools, NCTM seemed to have realized the error of its ways when it called for a return to math basics in its publication Curriculum Focal Points (see here). But the group has yet to come clean about its past mistakes; among other things, its executives have written letters to newspapers protesting coverage that portrayed Focal Points as a repudiation of NCTM's earlier stand. While officials waffle, kids are losing out. Some students are enrolling in private math tutoring, not because they have difficulty understanding numbers, but simply because their classroom math education is so shoddy (see here). NCTM should retire its fuzzy rhetoric and let states and districts know, once and for all, that its past tenets were flawed--and be proud of its new Focal Points, which really add up.
"Down for the Count?," by Melana Zyla Vickers, Weekly Standard, November 6, 2006 (subscription required)