10/13/97 New Addison Wesley algebra
textbooks awful PC stuff
Date sent: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 11:50:59 -0400
From: Fred Battey
Subject: Texas- Algebra & Geometry Textbooks
>Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 07:17:14 -0500
>From: "B. Rice Aston"
>Subject: Texas- Algebra & Geometry Textbooks
>The following letter was sent to the Texas SBOE concerning two terrible
>Algebra and Geometery series up for adoption. I need to send a copy to the
>publisher Addison-Wesley. Anyone have an address?
> Your school district considering these books? If so, read on.
>Letter to SBOE:
>Re: Addison-Wesley's Secondary Math: An Integrated Approach. Foucus on
>Algebra, and Secondary Math: An Integrated Approach.Foucs on Geometry.
>Dear Dr. _________,
>I filed an original objection to the above series and included in it some
>sobering comments from Ms. Marryanne Jennings, a Professor at Arizona State
>University. I requested the customary three minutes for comments at the
>public hearing to be held on September 21, 1997s, but was unable to attend,
>for which I offer my sincere apologies. Addison-Wesley apparently did not
>appear but filed an undated, unsigned written response without a return
>address, to my earlier objections. I respectfully offer my "response to
>the Addison Wesley's response.
>Comment on the Reply of Addison-Wesley
>The publisher failed to respond to most of the objections originally filed,
>but what it did say may be abstracted as follows.
>(1) The publisher claims that one of its "conceptualizers" (whatever that
>is) is of the opinion these series are satisfactory preparation for the
>entrance exam at West Point and elsewhere. The response contains only the
>opinion of what the publisher believes its conceptualizer believes. This
>hearsay speculation as to what someone else may think is of miniscule value.
>(2) The publishers further tells us that its industry consultants were
>complimentary in their reviews. We can only assume that these are hired
>consultants, and in any event, we are left in the dark as what they were
>specifically complimentary about, whether they refer to the entire 812
>pages of the Algebra book, the entirer 850 pages of the Geometry book, or
>to most, or only a small fraction of it. A fully informed businessman
>would hardly approve a math book if he realized that it encouraged future
>employees to "estimate" invoice totals, sales taxes, or payroll information.
>(3) The publishers tell us that Ms. Jennings is criticizing Texas
>Mathematics TEKS, but unfortunately we are left in the dark as to whether
>all, some, or a few of the Math TEKS are criticized, in what manner they
>are criticized, or how that rescues an otherwise inadequate book.
>(4) The series comply with NCTM standards, but no specific standard or
>standards are referred to, and we are left in the dark as to what the
>publisher has in mind. .
>(5) The series may contain the essential elements as claimed, but if they
>are there, in the words of Ms. Jennings, it is a two Tylenol headache to
>find them among the obfuscated rubble of 812 pages.
>(6) Ms. Jennings is simply wrong in everything she says.
>The publisher's response contains vague or non-responsive generalities,
>hearsay and speculation as to what other may think, and self-serving
>self-congratulatory language that fails to respond the original objections.
>This is hardly enough on which to justify a textbook that can impact Texas
>students for the next five years. Specifically, the publisher has wholly
>failed to respond to the following.
>Objections to the Addison-Wesley Series to Which No Response Has Been Made.
>Ms. Jennings wrote:
>"They learn that fossil fuels are The Devil's handiwork. They discuss
>toxins in the environment. They read Maya Angelou's poetry. They write
>essays on why parallel sentence structure is similar to parallel
>lines…"..chili recopies, the roles that zoos play in our society, myths of
>the Dogon cliff dwellers in Central Africa..It's a two Tylenol headache to
>find your homework assignment amid all the rubble ---which ultimately
>fills 812 pages…In Japan a good math book for students of the same age has
>about 200 pages. Yet Japanese students regularly outperform their American
>counterparts (3d in the industrialized world in 8th grad math vs. 28th)..I
>share mathematics Professors Richard Askey's (Math Department of University
>of Wisconsin) low opinion of this book..the notions of the author's are
>theoretical and have not been tested in the classroom…Focus on Algebra and
>Focus on Geometry are based on speculation, hype, and a wish to exploit a
>practice that has become alarmingly common I American education:
>Bureaucrats make faddish curriculum changes, and they refuse to turn back
>until it is clear to everyone that they created a debacle."
>Senator Robert Byrd, D -W V, reviewed the series and declared them to be
>"unfocused nonsense". His comments are published in the Congressional
>Record, a distinction that this series shares with few others. A few
>excerpts from the Congressional Record follow:
>Excerpts from Senator Byrd's Comments
>"Let me quote from that opening page. "In the twenty-first century,
>computers will do a lot of the work that people used to do. Even in today's
>workplace, there is little need for someone to add up daily invoices or
>compute sales tax. Engineers and scientists already use computer programs
>to do calculations and solve equations."
>"What kind of a message is sent by that brilliant opening salvo? It hardly
>impresses upon the student the importance of mastering the basics of
>mathematics or encourages them to dig in and prepare for the difficult work
>it takes to be a first-rate student in math. Rather it seems to say, 'Don't
>worry about all of this math stuff too much. Computers will do all that
>work for us in a few years anyway.' Can you imagine such a goofy passage in
>a Japanese math textbook? I ask what happens if the computer breaks down or
>if we forget and leave the pocket calculator at home? It appears that we
>may be on the verge of producing a generation of students who cannot do a
>simple mathematical equation in their heads, or with a pencil, or even
>balance a checkbook.
>. "Nor do I understand the inclusion of the United Nations Universal
>Declaration of Human Rights in three languages, a section on the language
>of Algebra which defines such mathematically significant phrases as, 'the
>lion's share,' the 'boondocks,' and 'not worth his salt.' By the time we
>get around to defining an algebraic expression we are on page 107. But it
>isn't long before we are off that boring topic to an illuminating testimony
>by Dave Sanfilippo, a driver with the United Parcel Service. Sanfilippo
>tells us that he 'didn't do well in high school mathematics… but that he is
>doing well at his job now because he enters …information on a pocket
>computer…hardly inspirational stuff for a kid struggling with algebra. "
>"It is not just nonsense, it is unfocused nonsense, which is even worse.
>Mathematics is about rules, memorized procedures and methodical thinking.
>..Another useful purpose has been served by my personal perusal of this
>textbook. I now have a partial answer to my question about why we don't
>produce better students despite all the money that Federal taxpayers shell
>The publishers comment that it has complied with the NCTM (National
>Council of Teacher of Mathematics) standards is illuminating, and this is
>perhaps why Senator Byrd found the series totally unacceptable. The NCTM
>advocates that math should emphasize calculator and computer skills and
>computer skills should be substituted for logical and abstract thinking
>skills; that imprecise math, such used as in estimation, should be
>encouraged; and that kids shouldn't have to remember specific math
>terminology, math facts, or math skills. The underlying theory is that
>math should be dumbed down so that the playing field is level for all, all
>can feel good about themselves, and school administrators will not be
>embarrassed by underperforming students. Great for everybody except those
>that need to support a family.
>Dr. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., a nationally recognized authority on education, dealt
>harshly with the experimental math, known variously as NCTM, "fuzzy",
>"new-new", or "whole math" in a speech to the California State Board of
>Education., and gave sound pedagogical reasons for its rejection.
>Excerpts From Speech Given by Dr. E.D. Hirsch's Speech
>The NCTM group stresses conceptual understanding over mindless drill and
>practice, while the dissident group stresses the need for drill and
>practice leading to mastery. To resolve the issue, which researchers should
>you listen to? Here are three suggestions: John Anderson, David Geary, and
>Robert Siegler -- three highly distinguished scientists in the psychology
>of math education. What are they likely to tell you? I believe you will get
>strong agreement from them on the following points: that varied and
>repeated practice leading to rapid recall and automaticity is necessary to
>higher-order problem-solving skills in both mathematics and the sciences.
>They would probably explain to you that lack of automaticity places limits
>on the mind's channel capacity for higher-order problem-solving skills.
>They would tell you that only intelligently directed and repeated practice,
>leading to fast, automatic recall of math facts, and facility in
>computation and algebraic manipulation can one lead to effective real-world
>problem solving. Anderson, Geary, and Siegler would provide you with
>reliable facts, figures, and documentation to support their position, and
>these data would come not just from isolated lab experiments, but also from
>large-scale classroom results. If these top scientists agreed on all these
>points, that is the consensus you should trust, no matter how many
>pronouncements to the contrary might be made by national educational bodies
>The Addison-Wesley Algebra and Geometry series are well designed to
>preserve the current position of American students as 28ths in the
>industrialized world, locking them out of any serious consideration for
>jobs which require accurate math skills such as: carpenters, electricians,
>plumbers, legal secretary, oilfield roughnecks, nurses, property managers,
>airline, truck, and automobile mechanics, computer programmers and
>operators, and permanently locking them into entry level jobs. The scene
>of a high school graduate employed as a cashier, but unable to make change
>unless the cash register is working and gives the correct answer, is an all
>too familiar experience. This shouldn't happen anymore in Texas and Addison
>Wesley's series in Algebra and Geometry should'nt be adopted.
>Thank you for taking time to read this letter. I appreciate that you
>highest goal is the best interest of the school children of this state.
>B. Rice Aston
>EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE