Do you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn't learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as "spiraling," which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize "self-confidence" over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club.
Across the country, from New York City to Seattle, parents are wising up to math fads like "Everyday Math." Sounds harmless enough, right? It's cleverly marketed as a "University of Chicago" program. Impressive! Right? But then you start to sense something's not adding up when your kid starts second grade and comes home with the same kindergarten-level addition and subtraction problems -- for the second year in a row.
And then your child keeps telling you that the teacher isn't really teaching anything, just handing out useless worksheets -- some of which make no sense to parents with business degrees, medical degrees and Ph.D.s specializing in econometric analysis. And then you notice that it's the University of Chicago education department, not the mathematics department, that is behind this nonsense.
And then you Google "Everyday Math" and discover that countless moms and dads just like you -- and a few brave teachers with their heads screwed on straight -- have had similarly horrifying experiences. Like the Illinois mom who found these "math" problems in the fifth-grade "Everyday Math" textbook:
A. If math were a color, it would be --, because --.
B. If it were a food, it would be --, because --.
C. If it were weather, it would be --, because --.
And then you realize your child has become a victim of "Fuzzy Math," the "New New Math," the dumbed-down, politically correct, euphemism-filled edu-folly corrupting both public and private schools nationwide.
And then you feel like the subject of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" as you take on the seemingly futile task of waking up other parents and fighting the edu-cracy to restore a rigorous curriculum in your child's classroom. New York City teacher Matthew Clavel described his frustration with "Everyday Math" in a 2003 article for City Journal:
"The curriculum's failure was undeniable: Not one of my students knew his or her times tables, and few had mastered even the most basic operations; knowledge of multiplication and division was abysmal. . . . what would you do, if you discovered that none of your fourth-graders could correctly tell you the answer to four times eight?"