Educating All Parents To Ensure The Future Of Our Republic

Jaime Escalante and NCTM Standards

"Mr. Escalante has been, and continues to be, highly critical of the NCTM Standards. He is quoted by Charles Sykes in, "Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves but Can't Read, Write, or Add," as saying, "Whoever wrote [the NCTM math standards] must be a physical education teacher." Mr. Escalante's endorsement of Professor Allen's Proposal is a significant acknowledgment of the failure of the NCTM Standards and the need for clear alternatives."

While doing a search to find out what one famous classroom teacher said about NCTM standards, I found some really interesting stuff. Quite honestly, I was worried I might have found Mr. Escalante endorsing them.

For those of you unfamiliar with Jaime Escalante, he was the subject of the movie "Stand and Deliver" which showed him taking a class of pathetic students and transforming them into powerful mathematicians. What happened to Jaime after his success is indicative of the problems in the field of education where success is pushed out the door as it threatens those that want to develop new fads or really have no desire for changing the status quo (tailspinning) of our intellectual capital in America. For Jaime's full story including "the rest of the story", visit this link:

In finding the site Jaime is quoted on above, I followed the conversation that was taking place in the comments as supports and opponents of NCTM standards weighed in on the quote. One person, a supporter of NCTM standards, repeated the same poor excuses we hear in Alpine District from our officials. You can read his full letter here:

In this supporter's letter you'll read:

The traditional mathematics classroom does not allow for the success of ALL students who are enrolled...

The attempt of the NCTM Standards is to level the playing field in the mathematics classroom by encouraging equal opportunities for all students involved to build their own foundations on which to place basic and advanced mathematical concepts...

In my mathematics classroom today, students are unable to relate the mathematics done in class and for homework to the real world...

... although rote learning is NOT eliminated by the Standards, it is just de-emphasized in favor of more thought-provoking, mental exercises which accomplish the same end, but with many additional benefits!!

The page you MUST read is this one from a brilliant Brazilian named Alberto. Honestly, this page is chock full of great stuff. You can read my clips below but they are only a sampling of what's on the full page.

This is the party line, and far from the truth. What you call "equal" opportunity is rather diluting content and demand so much that anyone can get through it without any effort, and consequently without any real learning. The only "equal opportunity" here is the opportunity not to learn and to claim one did. If you equate this with "helping disadvantaged minorities", you're rather slapping us in the face...

I live in the real world. I depend on real world mathematics to make my living. And the sort of math I need day to day is very far away from what you - or the NCTM - call "real life". Have you ever designed a computer? Wrote a complex 3D graphics program? Simulated a crystal? Translated computer programs into binary? Built a wind tunnel ? A hydroelectric power station? Sent a satellite into space? These are some of the real-life things my father, myself, and some of my friends did or do. How does your scaled down math address my "real life"? ...

I could go on; this is MY real life, and the real life of many a professional. The real life of the people who invent, design and build the things you take for granted and the buzzwords that feed your learning. Because THAT is why we teach mathematics, so that some of our students can go on carrying that torch...

The very fact that you use the word "rote" shows that you're in the wrong path. There's a lot of exercising and skill acquiring to be done in any serious math course, and that cannot be avoided. Just like a soccer player or a concert violinist, learning mathematics requires an extensive amount of preparation and exercising over years and years. THERE IS NO WAY OUT OF THIS, and the more we avoid holding this bull by the horns, the more it'll gore us and turn otherwise healthy students into mathematical morons.

There are no "mental" exercises in mathematics that don't involve a lot of mathematical knowledge and manipulation. Mathematics isn't just a set of facts that must be memorized or analyzed or "critically" understood; it involves a skill that must be continously honed, a capability of thinking precisely, a continous banging against intellectual walls so that the individual's capacity to handle complexity increases steadily over the years.

Oh, Please. Whatever this is, it isn't mathematics. Even the dialetics you use is totally out of place. I suggest you go to places where mathematics is used in real life, talk to professionals that need it, go to colleges, talk to math, physics, chemistry, statistics, astronomy teachers; find out what real life REALLY is, as far as using mathematics is concerned.

Ahh, the sacred cow has never been gored in finer style. It's really amazing to me that district officials and some principals will tell people, "Oak Norton's research is all biased and flawed" and tell them they need to do their own research to know the truth. Then when they do it and arrive at my same conclusions their research is denounced as biased and flawed. As Dr. Jim Milgram, a member of NASA's advisory panel said, these programs have been around for decades and if they were effective, NASA, IBM and others would be actively looking for high schoolers that went through these programs.

In Utah, our educrats at the state department of education have used the NCTM standards as the basis for Utah's standards. We can do better. We should adopt California's standards which were written by mathematicians that understand the above debate. Just because we want everyone to succeed doesn't mean we should lower our standards to make everyone equally illiterate. We should have high standards and work with quality curriculum to help students achieve those levels of performance. TERC and the host of other NCTM programs won't get us there and should be banned from Utah until new standards are written that promote a foundation for higher education.

Other Resources

Ten Myths About Math Education And Why You Shouldn't Believe Them (excellent point by point analysis with lots of independent research to link to)

Testimony to NYC Board of Education  Jan 2002

"In order to offer all children access to rewarding careers, it is critical that no student be forced into a curriculum that precludes the second, more advanced, option.   Unfortunately, according to the draft document of the Commission report, the NCTM Standards include neither the rigor nor the formal algebraic skills required by students who will go on to be engineers, scientists,  mathematicians, physicians, or educators of mathematics, to which list I would add business persons, architects, psychologists, and many more.  I agree completely with that assessment, as do a wide spectrum of mathematicians nationwide and particularly in CUNY.  In my own classes alone, over the course of thirty years at CCNY, hundreds of otherwise intelligent students have been forced by their inadequate algebra preparation to change their majors and their career plans.

K-12 mathematics curriculum reform is urgently needed. Unfortunately, the use of curricula supported by the proposed vendors is likely to increase significantly the failure rate in college mathematics courses. In particular, the K-5 TERC curriculum materials fail utterly to provide the basic experiences of symbol manipulation that are prerequisite to the development of algebra skills."

PBS Documentary "Schools That Work" and TERC Investigations Mathematics March 2005
"The problem with TERC Investigations and similar constructivist curricula is twofold: they are weak in content and they encourage what I would call anti-mathematical habits of mind. They seem oblivious to the fact that mathematics is a highly layered and complex structure in which working fluently at each new level requires automatic and cumulative mastery of facts and procedures from earlier stages. Further, TERC and similar curricula rely excessively on models and pictures while failing to prepare students adequately for the transition to the symbol-based mathematics that lies at the heart of algebra and calculus."

Mathematics Education Reform: Toward a Coherent K-12 Curriculum Oct 2005
"Let me return to where I began. This is not just about students who take calculus in college.  This is about all children. Every single K-8 student is entitled to a math program that allows him or her to enjoy the option, later in high school and college, to take advanced mathematics courses needed for science, engineering, finance, architecture, medicine, secondary math education, and other math-related careers."

Do NCTM Standards-Based Programs Prepare Students For Calculus? June 2001
"Perhaps the most puzzling feature of mathematics curriculum reform has been the absence of meaningful participation by the community of academic mathematicians. It is imperative that children who are preparing for college mathematics study curricula that have been devised in meaningful co-operation with college mathematics and science teachers. This has not been the case. Indeed, the de-emphasis on symbol manipulation skills in most if not all NCTM Standards-based curricula poses a clear and present danger, both to American children and to the future American technology. To help children succeed in mathematics, we need to have curriculum development and revision that focus on improving the study and development of algebraic skills rather than throwing them away."

Investigations Math Menu

** Most important pages to read (all have value but if you will only read a few pages make it these)
* Very important

Research and Information Press Coverage

THE PETITION TO REMOVE INVESTIGATIONS MATH** (OVER 5% of ASD represented--still ignored by ASD)


Math With Madeline Video

All Weekly Email Updates **

Edspresso Article on WMD Comics

Weapons of Math Destruction Comics**

What Can You Do About Fuzzy Math in Your Area - 13 Ideas**

Brain Programming

ASD's Saxon Math Deception
Part 2 of the Deception

4/21/07 ASD Superintendent Calls Parents Extremists (for wanting the times tables in schools)

Alpine School District Residents Should Choose Saxon Math

9/13/06 Dual Enrollment Guidelines - Opting Out of Math or Other Classes

9/2/06 Jaime Escalante and NCTM Standards**

9/2/06 Amber Lee's Independent Research

The Math Story (ie. How I Got Started)

7/31/06 Educators Ignore Project Follow-Through**

7/26/06 Comparison of Alpine to Nebo and Provo Districts and comments on Orem City Breaking Off **

3/30/06 Utah Public Radio Broadcast with David Wright and Damon Bahr* (Right-Click and use Save As to download)

Insane Supplementary Materials Compound Investigations Math Nightmare**

Map of ASD Precincts and Election information- You must register to run by 3/17

3/2/06 David Wright's Mathematician Petition to the State of Utah*

2/14/06 Why are Charter School Scores Better than Alpine School District's?*

2/14/06 Alpine School District IOWA Test Math Scores

10 Myths About Math Education and Why You Shouldn't Believe Them

2/1/06 The Case for Utah adopting California's Math Standards-Testimony to Utah Congress**

1/10/06 School Board Meeting challenge to find just one valid study by 1/31/06 ** (I'm still waiting)

Math Tutors in Utah (find one/list one)

11/9/05 Update - How ASD is failing more children each year**

ASD's statement to teachers authorizing them to teach traditional math without fear of repercussion

California Study showing tripling of scores for schools that left constructivist math and implemented Saxon Math**

10/31/05 Petition Maps (see where people are signing the petition-blue dots are schools, red are petitions)

How About Grades 6-12 Connected and Interactive Math?**

Raising Critical Thinking Skills*

Pro-Investigations websites (for anyone interested)

8/15/05 Update (compares Alpine to other districts and charter schools) *

7/29/05 Update (resources given to ASD, sample problems, ASD vs. Nebo School District) *

Investigations Math Origins and Articles*

Math Programs Compared ("Traditional", Investigations, Saxon)

Supplementing your Public School Student's Education**

The California Investigations Math Failure**

Community comments - both Pro/Anti Investigations **

Investigations Math Poll Introduction and Question Summary*


Additional articles are covered in weekly updates since April 2007

Victory in Utah - State to Revamp Standards (11/16/06)

Major Breaking News...NCTM does a 180 after 17 years of destroying math in America

It must really irritate the folks at Alpine School District (ASD) who have taken to calling all my work "biased and flawed" to have such no-name disreputable organizations pandering to my lies. The legacy of ASD will be the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of students unable to obtain a technical higher education degree.

4/25/07 Provo Daily Herald - Math petitioners called 'extremists' in Alpine District

4/24/07 Deseret News Article - So how many different programs are appropriate to use at one time Mr. Henshaw?

3/1/07 - Deseret News - Schools' grades mixed - Utah system rated by U.S. Chamber in a new report

2/14/07 Provo Daily Herald - Committee makes math program suggestions for Alpine: Many in district pine for 'Investigations'

2/14/07 Deseret News - Alpine seeking balance in math

2/12/07 Deseret News - Math Program Deleted - Alpine District dumps controversial approach

11/16/06 Deseret News - State leaders support math overhaul for schools

11/16/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Utah's 'fuzzy math' curriculum scrapped; legislators endorse plan to revamp state standards

11/15/06 New York Times - As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics

10/29/06 Provo Daily Herald - Survey: Math Program Doesn't Add Up

10/25/06 Deseret News - Students decline at 5 Utah colleges

10/19/06 Deseret News - Math learning is shallow in U.S., professor says

10/19/06 Deseret News - Math in Utah — 'fuzzy' or A-OK?

10/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Bad marks for Utah's schools

10/9/06 BYU NewsNet - Alpine School District Under Attack

9/30/06 Provo Daily Herald - Districts evaluate 'failures' in testing

9/29/06 Provo Daily Herald - Utah schools receive progress rankings

9/26/06 - Parents Know the Right Equation for Teaching Math - by Phyllis Schafly

9/12/06 Wall Street Journal - New Report Urges Return to Basics In Teaching Math

9/6/06 Provo Daily Herald - Parent suggests Alpine district be responsive

8/28/06 Provo Daily Herald - Alpine readies to let schools choose curriculum for math (be sure to check out the comments section)

8/26/06 Provo Daily Herald - Charter schools attract parents concerned about public education

7/29/06 Deseret News - Burned-out teachers problematic

7/26/06 Deseret News - Most favor creation of small school districts

5/28/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Alpine School District relents and will change its math offerings***

5/26/06 Deseret News - Alpine opts for choice in its math programs***

5/25/06 Provo Daily Herald - District Reviews Math Options***

5/23/06 - Provo Daily Herald -Orem OKs feasibility study of splitting from Alpine district

5/23/06-Deseret News - Orem not hastening into a schools split

5/23/06-Salt Lake Tribune Article-Orem to study Alpine District split

5/12/06 Provo Daily Herald - Math decision delayed

5/10/06 Provo Daily Herald - Petition Requests District Division

5/6/06 Deseret News - Utah to study states' math programs

4/16/06 Provo Daily Herald- Alpine District continues to lose students to charters

4/6/06 Provo Daily Herald- Charter school debate heats up in Alpine school district

3/20/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Alpine in grip of 'Math Wars'

3/3/06 Provo Daily Herald-Professor: Clearer math standards needed

3/2/06 Deseret News- Math Petition Circulating

2/19/06 San Jose Mercury News - Math back in forefront, but debate lingers on how to teach it.

2/18/06 Salt Lake Tribune-Battle over math teaching spreads

2/15/06 Salt Lake Tribune-Indifference to math skills part of the problem

2/15/06 Deseret News-Parents voice their views on Alpine math

2/15/06 Provo Daily Herald-Provo district seeks math balance

2/9/06 Deseret News - Alpine trio defend approach to math
Rebuttal Letter to Editor: Math approach is harmful

2/7/06 Deseret News - Alpine defends math classes

2/2/06 Deseret News - Lawmaker Gives Alpine Math an F

1/29/06 Salt Lake Tribune - Charter School Funding Tight

1/20/06 Deseret News Letter to Editor: Rote exercises pay vital role in mathematical education

1/7/06 Provo Daily Herald - Investigations: Not your parent's math

12/18/05 Provo Daily Herald -Math doesn't add up for all

12/13/05  15 Charter Schools Scheduled to Open Next Year

11/24/05 Provo Daily Herald - Parents mad over new math curriculum (be sure to read the comments)



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