Weekly Math Updates

November 28, 2007


  • English Being Destroyed - Must read parent stories
  • Teacher Content Knowledge Findings
  • Media Articles-NEA Strategies Exposed
  • Universal Digital Library
  • Cool Web Site - Global Incident Map


I received a link to this study in the Journal of Developmental Psychology.  The article is entitled "School Readiness and Later Achievement". Here is the abstract at the beginning.


"Using 6 longitudinal data sets, the authors estimate links between three key elements of school readiness—school-entry academic, attention, and socioemotional skills—and later school reading and math achievement. In an effort to isolate the effects of these school-entry skills, the authors ensured that most of their regression models control for cognitive, attention, and socioemotional skills measured prior to school entry, as well as a host of family background measures. Across all 6 studies, the strongest predictors of later achievement are school-entry math, reading, and attention skills. A meta-analysis of the results shows that early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills. By contrast, measures of socioemotional behaviors, including internalizing and externalizing problems and social skills, were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance, even among children with relatively high levels of problem behavior. Patterns of association were similar for boys and girls and for children from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds."

Of course this is nothing really new to you if you've been reading these emails for a while.  Socio-economics have been shot to heck by real world examples of principals and teachers who put forth the effort to teach low-SES kids.  We've seen it in California and Maryland specifically. The most interesting thing for me, which isn't all that surprising, is that MATH, not reading, is the key indicator of future achievement. The need for a strong mathematical foundation early in life is the most important thing we can give our children.

English Being Destroyed

Over the last two weeks I've received a couple of very disturbing accounts of things that are happening in schools.  We've already heard the story that goes, "kids don't need to memorize the times tables or learn long division because they'll always have a calculator."  Here's it's parallel.  This first story is from a parent in Jordan School District.

At my daughters parent teacher conference we expressed our concern about the lack of spelling words and tests.And that my daughter really struggled with spelling.  Her teacher's response was, "all she needs to know is how to click the spell check button on her computer. No one needs to know how to spell anymore, it will all be done on the computer." We were somewhat taken back by this. What are we to do with responses like this????

Here's another story from a parent in the Cache School District.

My son was putting together a poster presentation for his social studies class. He had to pick a country and then write about ten paragraphs that he could put on a poster board with some pictures. My wife and I looked over his shoulder as he was writing his paragraphs. We, of course, noticed some glaring errors. He is in the sixth grade. There were some grammatical errors, some punctuation errors, and some errors in the use of capitalization. We waited to see if he would ask us to help edit his paper. He didn't. We approached him suggesting that we would be happy to edit his paper. He was a bit taken aback. Why would he want us to do that? We pointed out that there were errors that he may want to correct. His response was that since there were no more red underlines then the spelling must be correct and since there were no green underlines the grammar was correct. We pointed out that he shouldn't trust so much in the spell or grammar checker. There were still some very obvious problems. His final response was, "Spelling and grammar don't really matter. This is Social Studies class. This isn't my Language/Arts class." A few days later he got his grade back from the teacher. He lost one point out of 50. Obviously it doesn't matter.

One week later we had a nearly identical conversation about a writing assignment for his science class. "Dad, spelling and grammar don't matter for this assignment. This is science class." It turns out he was correct.  He got 20/20.

I know, I know, you're thinking," Oak, you've beat the math drum for so long, what are you thinking bringing up the need for proper English skills?  We're a multi-cultural society now and it's racist for you to suggest that students today need to know English."  :)  It looks like not only math standards, but English standards must also be raised.  Perhaps it's time to take the Core Knowledge sequence and make it our standard set of content...

It's really things like these stories that make you sit back and wonder what it's going to take for intelligence to ever return to the education community.  What will it take to realize socialistic models of suppression of the intelligent, never did, and never will produce excellence in ANY child.  Only by adopting a free market system where the bright can excel, can the slow learn to pick up the pace or forever be held behind BY THEIR OWN VOLITION.  When people learn they have to compete for scarce resources (education and knowledge), they will step up to the plate, but as long as we reward stupidity with feel good grades, and make kids think they know something when they don't, we'll forever be set back in our country.  Today's WMD is another tribute to this facet of American education.

If you are a newsletter subscriber and don't know what WMD's are, please visit the Weapons of Math Destruction Comics site.

Well, besides all the really obvious reasons I know most of you would argue for basic English skills, let me give you one other reason you might want to make sure your kids have good spelling skills.  The porn industry is targeting kids through misspelled websites. Children innocently want to go to a site and then misspell it and wind up at a site they didn't intend to visit. Here's the article.


I know I've mentioned it before, but K9 Web Protection is a free filter that protects you and your kids from accidental exposures to bad sites. You can also put time limits as to when your family members can use the internet. If you don't have it, go get it at www.k9webprotection.com.

National Mathematics Advisory Panel


This set of recommendations was recently forwarded to me and contains some real gems about what we know and don't know concerning teacher content knowledge, incentives, and specialist certification.  It ends with some recommendations.  The first two are biggies:

1. Teachers should at least know the mathematics they are teaching.
2. Certification and licensure exams should at least test well the content that teachers actually teach.

Media Articles

California teacher offended by NEA's 'manipulative, dishonest' tactics

This is an eye opening whistle blower article about the NEA's deliberate attempts to encourage union representatives to lie to their members, slander school administrators, and misrepresent their goals to the public. Here's a few items from the article.

"We were made to watch a video -- without any discussion before or after of our own views -- about how much the governor was set to destroy teachers, just so that everyone would go and work really hard to defeat any of his proposals," she recalls. "They ignited our passions and made us fearful and angry." In contrast, Smith believes teachers should be disengaged from any political bias so they can train children to make up their own minds. ...

Coordinate staff usage of personal and sick leave days so they are used on the same day, demonstrating to the school board that "teachers will follow your command."...

One of the final strategies involves a public demand that all school board members -- the "decision makers" -- come to the bargaining table. "Once you get them there," says the NEA document, "turn them against one another." This strategy is labeled "Lambs to slaughter."

NEA donates thousands to pro-homosexual activist groups, pushes for 'hate crimes' law

Shocker again.  The NEA promotes the homosexual lifestyle and agenda.  A couple months back before the election I forwarded out the NEA agenda which is basically a communist-style "destruction of your children before they leave public education" type of plan.  If you've been a fence sitter, be ready to home school your kids if you're not willing to get out and make a difference by being on the PTA, School Community Council, Board Member, or even just speaking at board meetings.  You CAN make a difference.

Check out this page on the NEA website and note the statistics they quote.  Pure garbage.  38% of students are harassed because of their sexual orientation???  Baloney. These people have an evil agenda and they'll lie, cheat, and steal to get it enacted. They are the most singularly organized and open communist agency in America today.


Universal Digital Library

Sorry for a pretty depressing newsletter.  I'll end with a couple of interesting things.  The Universal Digital Library is online with over 1.5 million public domain works available in a variety of formats. It's quite amazing.  Go here to read an article that talks about it:


The library can be found here:


Cool Web Site - Global Incident Map

This is a really cool site...disturbing for all the bad stuff going on in the world, but a cool way to present to you what's happening and where.  You get a world map and then specific icons show you the type of problem happening and if you hover and then click on an icon, you can get the article linked to that spot.  Nice mashup work by someone.


Till next time ,

Oak Norton

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