Weekly Math Updates

September 6, 2006


  • Math Selection Process--Each School Has Their Own
  • ASD Teacher Comments
  • Don't Be a Victim--Including Amber Lee's Research
  • John Stossel's 20/20 Piece: "Stupid in America"
  • Media Articles-Charters ARE Effective
  • Parent Comment
  • A Little Diversion
  • Weekly Comic--NEW HOME FOR COMICS

Math Selection Process--Each School Has Their Own

It appears from conversations with my school principal that each school in the district is setting their own policy for selecting math curriculum this year. I still encourage you to get involved with the Community Council and PTA and be as involved as possible in your child's education, but you should speak with your school principal and find out what your school's selection process will be. In our school it's a consensus (which remains to be seen how it will actually work). Other schools may vote in a small committee or the whole community...it's up to the principal.

Key to our success in effecting change will be your efforts to let teachers know NCTM standards are NOT acceptable. Please get the flyer out to your child's teachers or at least point them to the NCTM resources on my site including the flyer. Especially get the flyer to your PTA, Community Council, and your school principal. It appears that the district told PTA president's to not get involved in the math debate which is just more justification to get it into their hands as well. Every parent deserves to understand what's going on.

For those of you dealing with an administrator or teacher on NCTM issues, I have put up a new page you may direct them to which has an hilarious response to a fuzzy math proponent by an engineer, as well as lists of research they may view on the topic. It also identifies what famous person said, "Whoever wrote [the NCTM math standards] must be a physical education teacher." (link)

Another great resource I just found this week is a letter written to a school board in Washington. It's probably the single best resource to reference as it contains the very best information I have found in one convenient place. Email this link to your teachers and principals as well.


ASD Teacher Comments

A teacher in ASD very recently discovered my website and contacted me. This teacher said that although he liked aspects of Connected Math, he wasn't fully satisfied it was the answer. I invited him to view a draft of some information I have not yet released on how many children are leaving ASD to gauge teacher reaction to it and he said I could post his response anonymously.

>> My reaction is simple.
>> When I have interviewed, or when I interview a new teacher, I like the
>> question about the role of a teacher and the parent and their
>> relationship together. My philosophical answer is that as a teacher
>> I am here to help the parent educate the child, not to do it for
>> them. This is a whole different ball park then many philosophies in
>> education. So in reference to your statistics a simple analogy.
>> Let's assume for a moment that CMP and investigations is the best
>> thing to hit the world since sliced bread. And let's assume for a
>> moment that everyone in my school loves it and totally embraces it.
>> And further, let's assume all of the students and especially the
>> parents totally hate the idea. Is it still a good idea? Based on my
>> philosophy the answer is no.
>> So the answer to your question about the information and how it will
>> be received, it will depend on the individual philosophies of
>> teachers, administrators and parents.
>> Good job
>> [name removed]

A 5-star salute for this teacher. If it's the parent's responsibility to teach children (which of course it is), then the administration and teachers had better recognize their role as supporting the parent by teaching the things the child should know in a way that the parent will recognize and reward with continued patronage.

Don't Be a Victim--Including Amber Lee's Research

What's going on in our country? I mean everywhere you turn there's some story that offends anyone with a shred of patriotism or common sense. Did you hear about the riot in California where people protesting for illegal immigration took a U.S. flag down from a post office and put a Mexican flag up? Then they peppered police with rocks and bottles as they tried to approach the flag. No one was arrested and the flag stayed up most of the day. It's insane. (link:http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51746)
Then we've got this CANAMEX story (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51763) which is even more insane where we're going to be selling off projects and ownership of national interests, to foreign companies. Goods will be shipped to Mexico from all over the world and then transferred right into the heart of America without ever being inspected at the border. One proposed route goes straight through Utah (not that we don't need another North/South road besides I-15, but this is crazy). It looks like the John Birch society has been right on-target for a lot of years.

Here we are in "happy valley" and the only "happy" people seem to be the ones who close their eyes so they see no evil in a math program devasting children, shut their ears so they won't listen to anything parents say, and don't open their mouths for fear of getting fired. We wistfully say, "ahhh America, how beautiful are the feet of those that publish peace and how wicked are those that stir the pot such as those 'citizens against virtually everything' in Orem."

I think most of us know that we and our children have been victimized, shortchanged, and plain ripped off by a district that now takes credit for the many thousands of parents supplementing their children so they do well on standardized tests. However, there is a problem if you're allowing this mentality to shut down your ability to fight back and raise your voice. If you are too busy saying "the district just won't change" then you're not helping the problem. As I sometimes tell my children, "get over it!!!" You CAN and DO have a voice and you can use it. Start by listing 3-5 things you CAN do to stay involved and then just slowly plod along at whatever speed you're able to do them. Decide to make a difference.

One of those things should be to stay educated by reading my weekly updates and doing your own research on the web. Interestingly, the district has encouraged people to reject my research and do their own independent research. One parent in ASD, Amber Lee, did just that and you can read her report by clicking here. She now enters the realm of the "biased and flawed." Congratulations Amber. For those of you who question my research or conclusions, I've always tried to provide links to the state web sites and such where I obtain information and you are always welcome to verify anything I publish. If I goof something up, please call me on it.

Knowing that math is deficient in Alpine (along with other important vitamins and minerals), pick out a few things you can do to make your voice heard like serving on a community council, PTA, writing letters to the editor, writing your legislator, speaking out at a school board meeting, speaking with your school board representative on the phone about personal experiences, inviting others to sign our petition, etc... There's a lot of things you can do independently that will help and you don't have to do much to be effective.

John Stossel's 20/20 Piece: "Stupid in America"

John Stossel did another hit piece at American Education last week. Here's a clip from the article that provided me some interesting thoughts.

"Competition inspires people to do what we didn't think we could do. If people got to choose their kids' school, education options would be endless. There could soon be technology schools, science schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what else. If there were competition, all kinds of new ideas would bloom."

Media Articles

-Charters ARE Effective

A few weeks ago I got an article sent to me by my mother and mother-in-law greatly concerned with the state of charter schools in our country. The articles said charter schools were failing and not providing the level of service public education does. My gut reaction was that something was wrong with the article but I didn't know what or how to identify it. Thankfully one of you emailed me an article the Wall Street Journal ran that showed where this analysis was deeply flawed. If you're interested, click here to open a copy of the article.

-Parent suggests Alpine district be responsive

Parent Kirby Glad made the paper suggesting to Alpine several ways to help reconcile with the community. Here's a clip from the article.

Glad also suggested that district policies may be making constituents feel as if they're not being heard. One policy says the board may not formally respond when a resident speaks at a public meeting. "Imagine having a conversation with your spouse in which he or she does not respond in any way," Glad wrote. "Would you feel as though you had been listened to? Or would you feel as though your spouse was being 'unresponsive?' "

Parent Comment

Mr. Norton -

I just had to write and tell you about something that happened this morning.  I've known that my 6th grade son has been having problems with multiplication tables for awhile.  I just didn't know how bad it really was until he took a timed test this morning before school.  His teacher sent home a chart that had 1 through 12 in random order across the top and also down the side.  Basically, he had to follow the numbers down and over until they met and write in the answer.  It took him ( I kid you not), 14 1/2 minutes to complete this test!  A 6th grader!  He goes to Legacy Elementary and when he was in 3rd grade, his teacher (bless her heart) decided that memorization of multiplication tables was essential - so she drilled them on it all year long.  Apparently, his 4th and 5th grade teachers dropped the ball!

Another quick story:  I've recently ordered the Saxon math program for him and plan on trying to help him get caught up.  I went in to parent/teacher conferences and told his teacher that I don't want him to have to do the Investigations math homework anymore because he would be working with me at home for an hour a day on more important math.  She agreed that the math program was very lacking and told me she loves Saxon math.  Then, we worked out a plan where my son would only spend 10 minutes on the class math homework and if he didn't finish it - not a problem.  He wouldn't be graded on it.  If I felt that the homework would help or add to the Saxon math that day, I would have him do it.  (By the way, one of my friends is doing this exact thing at another elementary school with her daughter.)  I was feeling pretty good about this until the next morning when his teacher called me.  She said that she had been thinking about our conversation all night and that she was pretty sure she shouldn't have been talking about the math program the way she did (!) and that she didn't think she could give [name removed] "special treatment".  So, basically, he needs to do all of the homework and the Saxon math I give him at home! 

This is so crazy.  I hate the way the district is experimenting with my children.  Luckily, my two high school students have made it through without having much exposure to the "new" math.  I greatly fear for my younger children, though.  You are welcome to use this story if you need to - I just don't want my name or my son's name to be used (simply because I wouldn't want him to be embarrassed by this).

Thanks for your dedication.

An avid reader-

[name removed]

A Little Diversion

And now for something completely different, try out this fun Middle East geography game and see how much you know (or not) about the Middle East.


Weekly Comic

For those of you that read down this far on my emails, congratulations. Unless the only reason you read down this far is to see the comic, in which case...REPENT! Anyway, I just thought I would point out that the new archive site is complete and will continue to receive constant updates for a while to finish out the site. The link is:


Archive: http://www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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