Math has been falling behind, and is overdue for some one-on-one attention. Wall Street, the state budget crises, the six-month-long-and-still-ongoing election recount in Minnesota, and investigations into the crane collapses in Manhattan, somewhere in each of these calamities is number theory, statistics, geometry or algebra. Our national report card in mathematics achievement seems deplorable. Last month, it was reported that three-quarters of those taking a Massachusetts licensing exam for elementary school teachers failed to pass a new section testing math.
In the coming school year, we might anticipate reinvigorated debates on what’s wrong with math curricula, teachers, textbooks, and a diversity of pedagogical ideas on what is needed to improve. In the past, math has contributed with some excellent, innovative ideas such as the Algebra Project, for example. So it will be time to watch out for controversy, often a precursor to censorship.
For this year, math can be proud to receive one good mark – an A- in free speech. We are not aware of any reported incidences of censorship. However, we had to deduct ten points for lack of participation. We expect math to raise its hand and speak up much more in class in the fall term.