Weekly Math Updates

June 28, 2006

  • Media
  • School Board Campaigns
  • Great Articles
  • Diebold Election Equipment Fiasco (off-topic)
  • Weekly Comic

Thanks to the outcry from a lot of people last week, the group sponsoring the pro-gay NEA amendment has removed the language from their proposal. If you helped voice concern to the people involved, thank you.


From the Daily Herald this week is an article talking about the implementation of HB77 in potentially breaking up ASD but it's also applicable to other school districts.

Group eyes methods to ease splits in districts by Anna Chang-Yen

School Board Campaigns

It appears that Tina Howard has dropped out of the race for the school board member from Alpine/Highland so now there are three two-person races for the school board. Of the two running in Alpine/Highland, Chrissy Hannemann appears to be the better choice after myself and one other individual had conversations with her challenger that left us unimpressed. In the other races up for election, I wholeheartedly support Tim Osborn and Jennifer Webb. Getting them elected will be our priority for this November. With them on the board, we will have a better voice in education.

Great Articles

by "John Dewey" an anonymous name

Math education is in a shambles, starting from the so-called standards put out by the National Council of Mathematics (NCTM) in 1989 and revised in 2000.  These standards were then copied by many states that thought they were great.  State boards of education paid no mind to the shrieks of horror from mathematicians, simply not believing that the resulting standards took the math out of mathematics in the name of fun, and whose approach for eliminating the achievement gap eliminated the mastery of any math knowledge that matters.  The well-intentioned but ill-conceived standards have actually widened the gaps between the rich and the poor by motivating those who can do so to hire tutors for their children, to enroll them in learning centers like Sylvan and Kumon, or to put them in private schools. 

by Barry Garelick

Education Secretary Spellings recently announced the formation of a presidentially appointed panel that was formed to address math teaching.  According to the charter of this panel, one of its purposes is “to foster greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students.”  The panel is charged with producing a report in two years, which must contain recommendations pertaining to how math instruction can be improved in the U.S.  In particular, the report must address the skills necessary for students to acquire competence in algebra and to prepare them for higher levels of mathematics.

Diebold Election Equipment Fiasco (off-topic)

If you voted in the primaries yesterday, you got a chance to try the slick new Diebold touchscreen system. It was very easy to use and is being lauded by our Lt. Governor Gary Herbert. Unfortunately, new flaws have been discovered in the system describing a hacker's ability to control the entire state's election results without detection.  We should really consider decertifying the Diebold system and using something that works every time...like paper. It's actually amazing that Diebold constructed a machine so easy to hack. Some people are saying the only way to make a system this unsecure is to plan for it. I'm not going to say this was intentional, but I'll just say it makes Microsoft bugs look minor.

The Lt. Governor has responded to several questions in an online interview, revealing the fact that Diebold machines arrived with the internal memory serial numbers NOT matching the outer metal plate serial numbers.  That's what you call excellent quality control!!!  Further, the internal numbers appear to be CHANGEABLE as they were written to RAM (random access memory...i.e. rewritable) and not ROM (read-only memory).  Here's a link to the Q&A containing the admission.


Here's a link to a site tracking these Utah voting problems.  It seems to me that this is a great way for the Republican party to lose Independents and even many Republicans as people learn how Bruce Funk has been treated by the Lt. Governor's office for discovering and exposing the problem.  I know I won't be voting for any ticket containing Herbert again.  It's unconscionable how Bruce has been treated by the state.


Here's the article and clip describing the vulnerability of the system.


Voting Groups Call for Immediate Decertification of Georgia's Diebold Election System

A security vulnerability recently exposed in the architecture of the DES is being called a "major national security risk" by computer science and security experts. The effect of this vulnerability is that voting systems could be infected throughout an entire state, enabling an attacker to alter election results on a massive scale without detection. Once the vulnerability is exploited, the voting system could be under the control of the attacker, not only for the current election, but also for future elections.

"It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is an examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania…”

The computer scientists who are knowledgeable of the technical details of this vulnerability state that the problem cannot be fixed or "cleaned up". It represents an open backdoor that is part of the design of the Diebold TS-R6 and TSX voting systems.

"It is like the nuclear bomb for e-voting systems," said Avi Rubin, computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. "It's the deal breaker. It really makes the security flaws that we found (in prior years) look trivial."


Oak note: I would highly encourage you to draw attention to this problem by sending these links to your senator and representative.

Weekly Comic

Archive: http://www.oaknorton.com/weaponsofmathdestruction.cfm

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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