PA Coalition for World Class Math

                            Letter warns of fuzzy math in Hudson (OH) (12/19/2012)     

Letter: Encourages parental involvement in math book selection

 Hudson Hub Times

I encourage parental involvement in the selection of new math books for Hudson Middle School. These books will be used for many years, so even parents of preschoolers should participate.

Parents should become familiar with the unique vocabulary surrounding math textbooks. Sometimes a term comes across as one thing but really means another. The only way to know for sure is to check for yourself.

For instance, it sounds great if a textbook is "student centered," "maximizes technology," "promotes collaboration" and "encourages multiple strategies." What if the reality means "teacher" becomes "facilitator," calculator use is emphasized, most class time is group work, and that arranging blocks, drawing pictures or folding paper scraps are just as acceptable for middle schoolers as doing the mathematic equation on paper?

Detailed parent guides seem appealing. But what if they're needed because the textbook is so indecipherable that a parent can't help their child with homework or make up work from sick days?

Funding from the National Science Foundation impresses some, but even that is not what it seems. NSF funding doesn't mean that mathematicians are writing these books. Actually, the NSF grants to support development of math books are from the Directorate of Education and Human Resources not Mathematical Sciences.

Cal State University professor David Klein's 2007 editorial in The American Journal of Physics put it this way, "The National Science Foundation logo, prominently displayed on promotional materials for its math programs, has become a warning symbol for parents of school children. It identifies programs that are best avoided, much like the skull-and-cross-bones symbol on poisons."

The current middle school text, Connected Math 2, is a NSF funded textbooks and a newer version is being considered.

Parents, as you hear more about this process, write down the key buzzwords and then do your own research.

Julie S. Lindner, Hudson