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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 13, 2008 at 4:50 PM

Math mess

We can do better

I found the Ted Nutting “Math Mess” piece fascinating [“A formula for lifting Washington out of its math mess,” Times, guest commentary, Oct. 12]. I hope members of the Board of Education will give feedback.

How can it be so difficult to find a good math curriculum? I graduated from Cleveland High School in 1962 then went on to receive a bachelor of science and master of science in engineering.

I conclude that good math teachers and straightforward curricula at Cleveland resulted in good math skills at that time, and would give good results today.

Yes, I understand 50 years later we would need additions because of personal computers, like some binary arithmetic.

I hope Nutting’s arguments will be taken seriously.

— Allen Gary Storaasli, Federal Way

Remove the heavy hands

Thanks to Ted Nutting for his comments on Washington state’s math mess.

I didn’t realize that the push for the less rigorous, often just plain silly math curricula was coming from Superintendent of Instruction Terry Bergeson at the state level; I am familiar with the issue from the Seattle Public Schools’ perspective.

Reform math in the form of “everyday math” has become our elementary-school math curriculum despite the very vocal and widespread opposition of parents and teachers. Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno allowed for a parent/teacher feedback period after proposing the curriculum, then proceeded to ignore the feedback, arriving at what was clearly her predetermined choice.

This heavy-handed approach is having a real impact on our kids.

There is no question that the curriculum is weak; anyone with common sense who takes the time to compare it to something like Singapore math grasps immediately how weak our approach is.

We love our elementary school, the teachers who do such a great job, and we love being part of the public-school system.

However, this math curriculum and the district’s lack of responsiveness to teachers and parents on the issue is forcing us to seriously consider other options for our kids’ education.

— Robin Kelson, Seattle

Time for a change

Bravo to teacher Ted Nutting for exposing the sorry state of math in Washington state. Our two sons struggled with reform math in Seattle public high schools and required extensive outside tutoring. Yet, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson stubbornly clings to reform math, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on expensive WASL tests, summer classes and teacher-prep courses. She will never adopt an effective math curriculum, such as Singapore or Saxon, to give students the tools they need to succeed in math.

I hope the voters in Washington state add up the costs of reform math over the past decade and subtract Bergeson from her office in November.

Our students deserve better leadership in math education.

— Georgi Krom, Seattle

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