Debra J. Saunders

Forsooth: Fuzzy math doth not equal Shakespeare. Before I called Rubillo, I told Cal State L.A. math professor Wayne Bishop that the NCTM was really coming around, but Bishop was skeptical. I chided him. After all, I noted, the guidelines may not call for third-graders to memorize multiplication tables, as California's substantive standards do, but at least they support "quick recall of multiplication facts" in the fourth grade. At least they deal with math now.

Bishop responded, "I would be surprised if behind the scenes they've moved at all." Now I wonder, too. It is not a good sign that, when I cited Milgram's quote about the end of the math wars, Rubillo responded, "The math wars are just an invention in the last few years of just a couple of people."

This mess started when true believers turned math into a faith-based folly. When angry parents and teachers rebelled, the faddists denied that they had moved away from the basics. After years of clashes within curriculum commissions and fierce textbook battles, they now deny there was a curriculum war. Then they wonder why no one believes them.

Debra J. Saunders

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