"More Choice"
"State Standards"

by Kirby Urner
Oregon Curriculum Network
December 3, 2006

Note: orignally posted to math-teach @ Math Forum, which accounts for some of the local idioms, references to proper name players. Here's a link to the original thread.

Does anyone else see a contradiction here?

The anti-fuzzies have successfully whipped up parental passions, gotten them ridiculing the majority's mediocre fare, which I agree, ain't hard to mock. The angry mob pitch forkers now chant "choice choice choice" on cue. But then, when the anti-fuzzies win, parents'll find it's a perfectly straight line through the State Office of Wayne Bishop and his ilk -- or die. Some choice, huh?

Isn't this something of an internal contradiction, to be clamoring for more choice while exerting top down pressure through the politico-state apparatus?

Haim is right to worry that some on his team might be into dictating.[1] I, on the other hand, am much closer to implementing his vouchers idea, by making it very easy for an Intel, HP, or OMSI to public-charter a single class or sequence, not necessarily an entire school, what with all that overhead (though with shared open source code...).[2]

But to charter a public offering, you need to play by the public rules, i.e. keep in close contact with one of our many monitoring towers plus really show 'em the ropes, so they'll still want to be president someday, or at least free to elect one, not as slaves, not as minions.

No indoctrinating of children in anti-democracy views. Not on the public dime. Or we'll shut you down in a heartbeat.

But not without due process -- schools should be able to defend themselves, e.g. sometimes it's satire, sometimes it's viewing propaganda films from some dark ages past, saved as exhibits on YouTube or wherever -- there's a lot of racist literature future historians will need to be aware of, so we can't blame 'em for studying it.

Main liner rank and file math teachers hear the stomp stomp stomp of black booted politicos, trying to set a "one size fits all" homeland security math standard, one state at a time, and I don't blame 'em for feeling worried. What is this great darkness, this vast "invisible majority" that'd politically control our math curriculum from on high, make us all study Saxon or Singapore or I forget which others -- state mandated, state approved, or forget that promising career through the far door of a State Standards Office, aka "the culling room" (Orwellian-sounding ain't it?).

These people seek "compliance", want teachers to "toe the line" (or else). In contrast, I want faculties to form voluntary alliances and with more than one federal bureau or agency, including the DoD (for a Quaker, that maybe sounds concessionary so maybe I'll get buggy-whipped by my stern-bearded elders -- but I just don't see a way around that our nation needs defending, psychologically most of all, and Pentagon Math is helping, I can't deny it (hey, DoD isn't just about man-beasties fighting anymore)).

Anyway, is it really the good math professors who are turning these wheels at the state and national levels, trying to have their way with we the people? Many math profs acted surprised to see their sigs in the Washington Post that time, not realizing they'd signed something so overtly political.

I don't see a conspiracy of math departments here, like Lou is no math nazi. So where's the source?

How does the anti-fuzzy math movement tie in with the Christian far right again? Some private Catholic schools have adopted fuzzy-seeming practices, which is confusing, plus they aren't all marching to any one christo-fascist drummer.

The picture is confusing at best, how religion is supposed to play into it.

Homeschooling families are often secular in outlook, or watch Buffy slay vampires, so what's the demographic? Saxon was forced to censor his dwarves and elves remember. Will that practice be spreading?

And what's the relationship with the Calculus Mountain tribe? Is ETS of AP Calc fame in some alliance with elve haters? Is ETS really Mordor in disguise? Hard to say.

It's all very murky, with journalists shedding precious little light on the matter.

Somehow it's all "about Calculators" but how? Don't we want kids to know what all those little buttons do? Do we want 'em to look up SIN, TAN and LOG in lookup tables in the back of some book?

And why no computers? Does anybody really know why Johnny can't code? There's gotta be a story there somewhere. Salon took a stab.[3] Let's look into it some more, shall we?

Even today, some lucky math profs get to work directly with the public schools, to the point of promoting cross-enrollment in the higher grades, with a tapering bell curve of exceptions down to that whiz kid in 7th or whatever, a special case. This is how one of our newest public charters works, having incubated in higher learning centers to begin with (Portland State chief among them, also Stanford).

Defenders of state standards make this illogical leap: high standards are good, therefore the fifty States should provide them. Always this leap of faith to "the States". Why? What am I missing?

Why don't the good math professors set up web sites at any or every UC-whatever, SUNY whatever, showing off what their illustrious, insider faculties, both practicing and emeritus, think'd be a most appropriate contemporary training for today's brainiac wannabees? Such websites'd be good recruiting tools as well.

MIT already does this, somewhat brilliantly, by open sourcing a ton if its best stuff, with more waiting in the wings I'm sure. Isn't that approach more likely to inspire emulators, vs. dry PDFs listing key topics, each with a state imprimatur, all boringly similar, with the King of Boring some dot gov functionary in Washington, DC? Whatever happened to local control?

I'm not for hampering Wayne Bishop's freedoms of speech, nor those of his allies. YouTube is waiting. Go ahead and strut your stuff guys, teach us about fractions the way it should be done, lay it out there about derivatives and so on. Do it your way. Stand and deliver.

But don't think you'll get a stranglehold on my State of Oregon using backdoor politics, no way. We've got a Silicon Forest to protect. We need our kids to be numerate, and that means ASCII and Unicode, a clear view of the stack, its open and closed source layers, tcp/ip near the bottom, various OSes, and these myriad math notations, self executing, Ruby and such, with Amazon.com nearer the top, part of our culture's infrastructure. Gotta know about databases, as in SQL meets Venn.

What? You say California math teachers are living in the dark ages and don't know what I'm talking about (or do, but such math is strictly verbotten, not taught)? Well, that's my point. Don't let these backward "Cal people" push their antediluvian math on our great State of Oregon. Close the border if necessary or, better yet, shut off their Bonneville power.

But really, none of that'll be necessary. "This ain't another ENRON" (bumper sticker). We love California, and we're not under seige -- plus have Canada watching our back just in case, or maybe we'll slaughter 'em at Northgate should Canada fall.[4]

No, California is our gentle hippie good neighbor to the south, very into geodomes and geospheres. Just look at Long Beach, where the Spruce Goose used to live (now we share that in common as well -- go Howard!).[5]

Plus Hollywood is chomping at the bit to keep California ahead of the bell curve, when it comes to emulating future lifestyles. Oregonians will help with the props and talent. Synergy R Us.

This flirting with totalitarian style government is fizzling fast, was a flash in the pan. We'll be getting back to good sense again soon, with students set free to explore in the great cosmic vastness that is their birthright, undictated to by any one inbreeding "father knows best" type (or mother either), and with teachers in all walkx of life, in many traditions, standing by to provide valuable guidance within our new order of the ages.

Related post to comp.lang.python, Dec 10, 2006

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