Where's the math?

Clara Peller
A Washington state blog called Sound Politics is reporting, and its readers are commenting on, a group of Seattle parents concerned about math education. The group calls itself, "Where's the Math?" The name reminds me of that old Wendy's Hamburgers commercial, in which the late Clara Peller demands, "Where's the beef?"

Like similar Minnesota public school parent groups from Eden Prairie and Maple Grove, Where's the Math is questioning the radical "integrated math" education approach being promoted by math educators, but opposed by many mathematicians and college math professors. Their meeting in Bellevue, Washington last Tuesday, April 25 drew some 300 concerned parents, legislators, educators, college professors, and Elizabeth Carson, Director of New York City HOLD (a math advocacy group). Carson argued that math education is inferior in the United States compared to many other countries, and that it poses a threat to our national economy and security.

Where's the Math's story should sound familiar to Minnesota parents, check out my March 2005 archive for a refresher. Integrated math is widely, though not universally, taught in this state. Many parents are spending money on tutors, taking Advanced Placement math, or enrolling in the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program, at great expense and effort, to avoid integrated math curriculum such as the Connected Math Project. Others in the west metro have turned to homeschooling, or sought private schools, such as Providence Academy, or new charter schools such as Beacon Preparatory School, which use a proven sequential program, Saxon Math.