April 24, 1996

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Vol. 15, Issue 31
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Math-education experts nationwide have hailed California's efforts to reshape the way its schools teach mathematics as a breakthrough in the push for higher standards.
How many shoes would it take to fill a classroom? That's a question students nationwide are pondering to enter the "Math Talk Shoe-In Sweepstakes," a contest designed to mark Mathematics Awareness Week, which is this week.
Mathematics has gotten a bad rap. It may be one of the most misunderstood of all academic disciplines, says Gene Klotz, the director of the Math Forum, an on-line discussion group sponsored by the math department at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa.
In 1872, the University of Pennsylvania ran away. In 1996, it's running back.
Experts and young people from around the world met in Atlanta this month to exchange ideas on improving children's health, educational status, and social well-being.
Those in every generation of Americans who seek social change, from our founding fathers and turn-of-the-century Progressives to 1960s radicals and today's supporters of "reinventing government," can be divided into two groups--reformers and revisionists. While reformers attempt to build utopia from scratch, believing the current institution is beyond repair, revisionists work to improve the effectiveness of an institution from within, strengthening the strongest elements and fixing those that are most off track. Both types of change are needed for lasting improvement to occur. Yet, by competing for funds and political support, education's reformers and revisionists operate as if they were two trains on a collision course instead of on two tracks to the same goal.
One of the hottest school-reform topics these days, particularly in the popular press, is the need to evaluate and revise the laws governing teacher tenure. The public often sees these laws as providing unreasonable job protection for ineffective, mediocre, or even incompetent educators. And even those in the know have begun questioning whether the job security tenure provides can become counterproductive, serving as a disincentive, in a time of reform, to making meaningful changes in teaching methods.
I recently had the opportunity to visit an old school in Dayton, Ohio. It was a preserved model of the schools that dotted the country in the last century. While there, our group of administrators and partners was subjected to lessons given by a teacher who taught us the old-fashioned way.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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