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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 23, 2008 / 20 Sivan 5768

Return of the math wars

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | 1997 saw the height of the Math Wars in California.


On the one side stood educrats, who advocated mushy math - or new-new math. They sought to de-emphasize math skills, such as multiplication and solving numeric equations, in favor of pushing students to write about math and how they might solve a problem. Their unofficial motto was: There is no right answer. (Even to 2 +2.)


They were clever. They knew how to make it seem as if they were pushing for more rigor, as they dumbed down curricula. For example, they said they wanted to teach children algebra starting in kindergarten, which seemed rigorous, but they had expanded the definition of algebra to the point that it was meaningless.


On the other side were reformers, who wanted the board to push through rigorous and specific standards that raised the bar for all California kids. Miraculously, they succeeded, and they took pride in the state Board of Education's vote for academic standards that called for all eighth-graders to learn Algebra I.


Now many of those who fought at ground zero are afraid that the current board members will vote to undermine that standard. Earlier this month, many of those educators wrote to board President Ted Mitchell, urging that the board reject a vote they believe would undermine the Algebra I standard. The board tabled the measure until later. The fight continues.


Because this is an education issue, educratese obscures the issue, so bear with me. Understand that, while the board members maintain that they voted to make Algebra I the standard for eighth-graders, there isn't an explicit requirement. The official Mathematics Content Standards for California Public Schools has a chart that lists Algebra I as a math standard starting in the eighth grade, but, with a nod toward local control, it is not explicitly required for eighth-graders.


Still, it is clear the board saw Algebra I as an eighth-grade standard because it put in place incentives for local districts to teach Algebra I to eighth-graders, and disincentives for not doing so. And they worked. The proportion of eighth-graders taking Algebra I grew from 16 percent at the beginning of the decade to more than half today - and some of those students are taking even higher-level math. Supporters say the goal is to have all eighth-graders in Algebra I by 2014.


Enter the No Child Left Behind bureaucracy. The federal law requires eighth-graders to take a test aligned to the state standards for that grade - instead of giving one test for the


Algebra I students, and a below-grade-level math test for the rest. The choice for state educators: Make all students take the algebra test right away, make all students take a tougher general math test, come up with an alternative test or negotiate a deal to allow the state to give two tests until a given date.


The board was considering a blueprint by state schools chief Jack O'Connell for a tougher general math test. Good. Except that O'Connell's staff also says - and this is where the fighting starts - that Algebra I was never an eighth-grade standard. "There's a state desire for all eighth-graders to take algebra, but that is not the official standard," said spokeswoman Hilary McLean.


They use the fact that the standard has yet to be met to back up their argument. "They've always wanted a safety valve for the kids who weren't ready yet because the system wasn't ready yet," said Deputy Superintendent Rick Miller.


And if Algebra I is not the standard, why bother?


EdVoice policy director Bill Lucia fears the gains made by African American and other minority students will vanish. He cited an EdSource report that showed that the proportion of African American eighth-graders taking Algebra I had nearly doubled from 2003 to 2007. "Notably, the percentage of these students who scored advanced or proficient on the Algebra I (California Standardized Tests) also increased from 17 percent to 20 percent."


Said Lucia, "You threw a bunch of black kids in the algebra class and typically the education establishment would say now you're going to create a problem, because fewer kids are going to pass. But what do you know? More kids are able to take it. More kids are passing, too." For Lucia, this is no time to throw in the towel.


Where's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appoints the state school board members? "He doesn't micromanage the board," answered spokeswoman Camille Anderson.


Miller denied that O'Connell wants to eliminate the standard. He told me that there's more information today, so O'Connell simply wants the board, with the input of teachers, principals and superintendents, to have "a good open, honest conversation" about the eighth-grade Algebra I standard.


Which he also says doesn't exist.

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