Math Teachers, Textbooks and Kathy Korte, Etc., E-T-C

I was going to title this post:  “Math Teachers Are Stupid,” but that’s not, largely, true and wouldn’t be sporting.  We teachers need to stick together, even if Math teachers often seem to be from some non or supra-human species, one that has evolved emotionally in an exactly opposite way from actual humans.

Okay, I both kid and say the above as one of those otherwise unemployable “Humanities” teachers.

Yesterday’s ABQ Journal features an Op/Ed from Mathematics Professor Solomon Friedberg, chair of the Department of Non-Humans at Boston College.  He is “appalled” by the recent U.S. scores on the international PISA test.  The PISA is a very helpful instrument, one which allows professors from around the world to bemoan education in their country.  Here’s an example of the same from Australia.  And here’s another from neighbor New Zealand.  Germans have jumped in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped folks in the country from continuing to complain.

It’s one of those cottage industries, complaining about one’s country.  Even Finland gets to do it now, as their scores dropped this year.

Getting back to Professor Friedberg’s essay, he tells us the answer, my friend, is not blowing in any meteorological condition, but is all about textbooks.  The answer is better textbooks.   Better Textbooks and Testing.  The problem is that the textbooks have been awful for years now.  Horrible textbooks which have infected the teachers with their horribleness:

“Teachers are the heart of the enterprise. But at this point, nearly all were themselves educated in the American system, which means that they probably learned from textbooks with the same flaws as those they now teach from.”

Yup, I am a teacher who is the product of the “American system,” have been therefore tainted by the horrible textbooks and should be either dumped immediately or sent to a Textbook Reeeducation Camp (TRC) run by McGraw-Hill, Pearson and all the other companies benefiting from the latest version of the U.S. “educational sky is falling” despair.

Dumping sounds pretty good about now.  As for textbooks, I feel a bit like Allen Iverson felt about “practice.”  Quite a bit.

And speaking of dumping and “TRCs,” this morning’s Journal describes a very interesting next scene in the continuing family drama “Testing Mourning Becomes Kathy Korte.”  One wonders a bit on how long the Board split has gone on largely unreported, but what is quite apparent is that Board Member Korte is serious and sustaining in her vocal opposition to the “corporate takeover” of testing/evaluation, and by extension, public schools.  This particular family row is about a grant offered up by the Educational-Testing-Complex (ETC), but the larger fight waged by Korte and perhaps others is more fundamental and infinitely refreshing.

Good work, Ms. Korte.  And, yes, I admit that the term “whack job” did cross my mind early in your School Board career, but those days are over and you’re on fire.  Please keep burning.  And keep writing emails with lines like this:

“I don’t work for YOU (Brooks/Esquivel), and I don’t work for APS, and I don’t work for (the New Mexico Public Education Department). I work for the tons of people I encounter on a daily basis: from grocery stores, to the malls, to restaurants and the hallways and break rooms where I work. … They are parents, teachers and board members, by the way.

“At election time, I’ll face the music and be ready for whatever voters decide. … These are the people who are beleaguered and suffering under this PED regime and it is these people I work for.”

P.S.:  Just a suggestion ETC opponents….look at the test questions themselves.  Just look.  I know I am irritating in continuing to bring up the test questions, but just look.   Besides, this is the probably the time to be as irritating as possible, doncha think?  Kathy Korte certainly thinks so.


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