Weekly Math Updates

July 5, 2006

  • Orem City Update
  • Web Site
  • Math Tuition
  • Diebold Election Equipment Fiasco (off-topic)--Part 2
  • Weekly Comic

Hi all, just a couple items this week. By now you've seen my announcement about the Convocon (www.convocon.com) project and I want to let you know I'm not stopping the math fight, but honestly there's only a few things left to accomplish over the next year and as they get completed it will wrap up certain phases of this fight for better education. With it slowing down a bit, I figured I needed something else to satisfy my ADD (math pun intended) so I've started a project to overcome my ignorance of constitutional government and will try to influence kids in a positive way to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy because of it. I won't mention much about it here because this is a math list, but I would encourage you to join the program since we will have constitutional experts leading the discussions and it will be very educational and interesting. Now on to the update.

Orem City Update

Upcoming events for Orem:
July 21 – Feasibility study to be presented to city council privately
July 25 – Study presented in city council meeting to council and the public
August 7 – Council vote on whether to put this on the ballot or not

Also of major news, those of you in Orem will now be able to record signatures of people that want the issue on the ballot in November, by just using the phone or email...no more tight controls on documents. Beau Sorenson needs all signatures recorded and turned in by August 1st. To facilitate this, the Orem School District website will have an online form in the next few days to allow you to just log on and record the personal information for people that are in support of this measure. I will send out an additional email notifying you that you can sign up online if you live in Orem, and if you're calling people you can just sit at your computer and type in their information with their approval.

Web Site

Until I attended the Orem city counsel meeting a couple months ago, I didn't know there was yet another website in this area documenting the poor math in ASD. Named "Kids Do Count", here's a link to the site and a clip from the Impact page. Be sure to read the rest of the Impact page on Connected Math issues.


The Investigations website makes a weak attempt to provide impact reviews of their curriculum. A valid impact study must be largely free of biases, and clearly capture the program's impact upon students. But, their reviews are meaningless because the same people who developed Investigations also wrote their impact studies. So there was no independent review. However, our research did discover something revealing. The national backlash against Investigations clearly has its developers worried. Why? Because they wrote an entire strategy book specifically to aid school administrators and teachers. It's a complete handbook for handling concerned/difficult parents. Entitled, "Schools and Families: Creating a Math Partnership," it provides canned answers to frequently heard parental concerns and it even suggests unusual activities like sponsoring a "single Parent Night." But by far the most damaging section is the awkward admission that Investigations has been dumbed-down. We quote, "strategies for helping parents see the math in the work their children do." We readily submit that if you, as a parent, cannot tell where's the math, then the math has been dumbed-down by definition. Period!

Math Tuition

This letter is a little old but I thought I'd put out the idea so you can be thinking about this. If enough citizens start getting hit where it hurts (pocketbook) maybe it'll help create more of a statewise uproar over the issue.

Hi Oak,

Just a quick response to Prof. Lisonbee’s comments about teaching high school level math at UVSC.  I was born and raised in Ohio but left in 1997.  Around that time, there was a great deal of discussion about state colleges and universities providing remedial math education to incoming students.  One proposal that was kicked around but never implemented was to charge students the full, unsubsidized cost for remedial classes.  As I remember the editorials and newspaper articles at the time, people seemed to think that the problem with remedial math classes was lack of preparation on the students’ part.  If they could not adequately prepare themselves in tax subsidized high school they would be required to pay for it themselves if they went to college.  Exceptions were proposed for students returning to college many years after high school.

I would argue that such a program would be appropriate for Utah.  Students that arrive at our state universities unprepared to take freshman level college math are partly to blame.  Any required remedial math courses they need to take should cost the student the full, not tax subsidized price.  This might also have the effect of pressuring the school systems to provide a math curriculum such that students do not have to pay higher costs for remedial math.  Just a thought.

Tim Gardner Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Organizational Leadership and Strategy
Marriott School of Management
Brigham Young University

Diebold Election Equipment Fiasco (off-topic)--Part 2

After last week's news about Diebold, I got an email I thought I would share with everyone from someone who works in the high-tech industry.


I work as an information security consultant for [very large recognizable company].  I have been following the Diebold voting machines for years, ever since they were first rejected by the State of Maryland.  Using these machines in our state is inconceivable.  These machines have been shown to be vulnerable, and criticized by state, after state.  Georgia is just another state in a long list of organizations that has extremely serious concerns about these machines.  Diebold executives have been caught in several lies about the security of the system, the code has been leaked to hackers, and has failed nearly every security certification it has undergone.

Internet banking, with it's many vulnerabilities, is far more secure than conducting bank business by paper.  Voting machines, on the other hand, have been shown time after time to be highly susceptible to tampering, fraud, yet highly resistant to detecting anomalies.  Diebold voting systems are considered the worst.  The only reason these suspect systems are being considered is because of the voting issues in Florida many years ago.

Any public official who gives even tacit acceptance to these machines is either uneducated or highly biased.  I, for one, used an absentee ballot this year.

Here's another article that you may find interesting.


Unfortunately, a system cannot be protected adequately if it requires too many procedures to setup, operate, and maintain.  Especially under such a wide range of operating conditions.

If your readers want a blog that puts just some of this discussion in perspective, check out Wikipedia


Here's an article that backs up some of my other assertions:


In short, there is so much research, news, and outcry about this over several years that it frightens me that our elected officials do so little about it.  Maryland banned the machines, Nevada was the first state to mandate a paper trail, and Emery County forced the publication of recent vulnerabilities issue in this state.  However, these incidents have not had the desired effect of either strengthening the systems, increasing adequate oversight, or banning them altogether.

Todd S.

Weekly Comic

Archive: http://www.oaknorton.com/weaponsofmathdestruction.cfm

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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