As a math teacher for 23 years, I agree with almost everything you said. My only area of disagreement is in the comment that Algebra is being shoved up into the 9th grade. Up until just a few years ago, Algebra was the 9th grade standard because it relied on a lot of abstract thinking, the kind of thinking that most 7th and 8th graders are not biologically ready to do. When it was dropped down a grade, it was a disaster everywhere. Good teachers tried to teach it to good kids who just were not developmentally ready for it. It was too much too young. I support returning Algebra to the ninth grade where kids are more likely to be able to learn it. (I am a born-again, right wing, anti-Obama, anti-NEA, Christian conservative.