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Topic: MORE FROM CALIFORNIA
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,744
Registered: 12/3/04
MORE FROM CALIFORNIA
Posted: Dec 14, 1998 10:59 AM
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[Note: The following was sent from CA by Carol Fry Bohlin.]
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The following is a letter read by Walter Denham before the CA State Board of
Education on December 10, 1998 (the day the Mathematics Framework was
adopted). It is shared with his permission:

"I am a retired educational administrator [California Dept. of Education],
speaking today as a private party. For the first fifteen years of my career
I was a research applied mathematician; I spent the last fifteen working in
the wonderfully satisfying world of K-12 mathematics education.

"My main feeling today is a deep sadness as the Board prepares to adopt a
new Mathematics Framework, yet another action that disregards and
disrespects the experience and wisdom of the mathematics education
professional community. By rejecting input from all but the few who
embrace the view of the most active Board members, the Board has repudiated
the normally very public and democratic process of making recommendations
for Board approval. The resulting document deserves and will receive
little support from the professional community.

"The incongruous result of today's action will be that the state with the
largest number of and, I might say, most dedicated mathematics educators in
the country, has official state policy dramatically inconsistent with what
the most accomplished professionals know about effective mathematics
instruction. How ironic, in light of the document now on the table, that
the 1985 California State Board of Education adopted a framework with the
goal of mathematical power for all students, a goal nationally acclaimed
among mathematics education professionals.

"Again, I am deeply saddened that our teachers of mathematics will be
working under the heavy, misdirected burden of Sacramento pronouncements
and controls. The next few years, like the last couple, will be difficult
and for some painful. I can promise you, nonetheless, that California's
teaching professionals will continue to work unceasingly to install
instructional programs that honor and promote students' thinking and
reasoning. They will not give up the goal of mathematical power for all
students. We can only hope that future state-level policies and actions
will recognize and value their knowledge and contributions."

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At the same Board meeting, a parent shared a couple of paragraphs from a
newspaper column written by the principal of his daughter's school:

"Over the wishes of thousands of researchers, teachers and practitioners in
the field of learning, our State Board of Education has tossed aside the
progress made over the last two decades. Against the wishes of the
commissions appointed to further develop our various frameworks... [they
have] dismissed experienced educators and inserted political appointees
whose agendas are more closely linked to dogma and dollars than developing
young thinkers ready for the coming century.

"I used to hold up our California Frameworks and proudly say that these
were the rationale and guides for my teaching. In [our school's] family
handbook I cited these works as significant to our philosophical
foundation. No more. We'll continue to use the national standards in math,
science, language arts which were developed by a cross section of teachers,
researchers and members of the business community. We will continue to
read our journals, attend conferences and learn from our kids and peers.
As long as our State Board chooses politics over reason, I will not count

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*
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Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)
E-mail: JBECKER@SIU.EDU





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