One Point of View: Perspective on Mathematics Education Today

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  • One Point of View: Perspective on Mathematics Education TodayAuthor(s): Iris M. CarlSource: The Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 30, No. 4 (December 1982), p. 2Published by: National Council of Teachers of MathematicsStable URL: .Accessed: 12/06/2014 12:33

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  • One Point OF X7GCD Perspective on

    Mathematics Education Today By Iris M. Carl

    Houston (Texas) Independem School District Member of the NCTM Board of Directors


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    Not since Sputnik has the United States of America been faced with an educational crisis of such magnitude. At issue are the appalling shortage of qualified teachers of mathematics, weakened academic standards, and decreased student achievement.

    In the case of Sputnik, the educa- tional comparison with Russia itali- cized the dilemma; and upgrading the quality of mathematics and science became a national goal. Throughout the country there was a consuming demand for reclaiming the lead, which was accompanied by a flood of federal monies.

    Today, despite the same bleak edu- cational comparison with foreign in- dustrial giants, there is an absence of national commitment and of federal funds. High schools continue to ac- cept a single year of mathematics as a qualification for graduation. Colleges of education warn of a steady decline in the enrollment of mathematics edu- cation majors. School administrators report growing numbers of high school seniors who graduate without ever having had a qualified mathemat- ics teacher. Public misconceptions about a "glut" of teachers are still prevalent. Legislative cuts from Prop- osition 13 to Proposition 2' persist in shrinking existing capital.

    For those outside the NCTM, the circumstances may appear to be a mixture of surprise and gloom. The situation is not surprising to the mem- bership of NCTM, however. During the 1970s the Council identified an impending quandary in the field of mathematics. More recently, An Agenda for Action* (NCTM 1980)


    was developed to make available an essential framework on which to structure realistic alternatives for the 1980s and beyond. The criticisms now being raised regarding precollege mathematics instruction, preservice and inservice training of teachers, ac- creditation of school mathematics programs, and the role of school ad- ministrators and boards of education are detailed in the Agenda. Recom- mendations are ready for implementa- tion. A prepared NCTM welcomes this opportunity to make its contribu- tion to the leadership now desperately needed.

    New vistas are opening for the Council's participation as a primary source in articulating the issues and exploring practicable solutions. Sig- nificant input in a variety of formal and informal settings are being made. Representatives of the Council are speaking to other groups to inform those outside the profession, to broadcast the progress being made, and to outline the tasks that lie ahead in mathematics. Participation ranges from testifying as a principal witness before a national commission and sharing copies of the Agenda and oth- er current information with school of- ficials, parents and members of local communities, to an appearance on network television and to testimony before committees of the U.S. Con- gress.

    These are challenging times for the Council. Public school decision mak- ers are eager to learn the facts of the muddled situation that confounds them. Relevant data in the right hands can transform seemingly status-quo

    administrators to enthusiastic change agents. Federal and state officials seek our expertise in their quest for substantive information and guidance in formulating strategies. The effects are far reaching. Frequently these bodies determine mathematics' share of educational dollars; decisions made by them in one instance can resurface as mandates of regulatory agencies.

    In every area the NCTM appeals for a technologically literate citizenry as a national priority. The Council is standing up, speaking out, and spur- ring action. We resolutely support dif- ferential pay for teachers in critical areas. We zealously seize and often create occasions to articulate the problem. We aggressively urge the implementation of An Agenda for Ac- tion. We are not only focusing nation- al attention on this exigency, we are supplying procedures for intervention and strategies for updating competen- cies and curricula. There is some evi- dence that exemplary programs and policies, the precursors of tomorrow's educational plans, are developing.

    Mathematics is a vital, pervasive societal resource. The citizens of the next century demand our assistance now. I urge all who share concern about the shortage of qualified teach- ers of mathematics, weakened aca- demic standards, and decreased stu- dent achievement to make their professional contributions, singularly and collectively, to abolish this crisis.

    * As long as the supply lasts, single copies of An Agenda for Action are available from the NCTM Headquarters Office, 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.

    Arithmetic Teacher

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    Article Contentsp. 2

    Issue Table of ContentsThe Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 30, No. 4 (December 1982), pp. 1-51Front MatterBy Way of IntroductionOne Point of View: Perspective on Mathematics Education Today [pp. 2-2]Readers' Dialogue [pp. 3, 50-51]TEACHINGWays to "Change Gears" [pp. 4-5]

    Let's Do ItDeveloping Mathematical Understandings with Bead Strings [pp. 6-9]

    Individual Differences in Problem Solving [pp. 10-14]Books and Materials [pp. 14-14]Learning Difficulties: Helping Young Children with MathematicsSubtraction [pp. 21-23]Life with an Exciting Nine-Year-Old [pp. 24, 50]Ideas [pp. 25-30]Challenge: For Able Students [pp. 26-26]What's Going On [pp. 31-31]Sneaking in Basic Drill with Sneaky Squares [pp. 32-34]Fitting Games into a Mathematics Curriculum [pp. 35-36]Place It [pp. 37-38]All Hands on Deck! [pp. 39-40]Maybe We Should Be in the Model Business [pp. 41-41]We Had a Math Day [pp. 42-45]Reviewing and ViewingNew Books for PupilsReview: untitled [pp. 46-46]Review: untitled [pp. 46-46]

    New Books for TeachersReview: untitled [pp. 46-46]Review: untitled [pp. 46-47]Review: untitled [pp. 47-47]

    EtceteraReview: untitled [pp. 47-47]Review: untitled [pp. 47-48]Review: untitled [pp. 48-48]Review: untitled [pp. 48-48]

    Computer SoftwareReview: untitled [pp. 48-49]Review: untitled [pp. 49-49]Review: untitled [pp. 49-49]

    Back Matter