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06 October 2015



The problem with our high schools isn't the number that don't offer calculus, though that is a problem... the problem with our high schools is primarily the state of the elementary and middle schools that results in children one or more grade levels in arrears when they walk into their first high school classes.

I applaud the widow Jobs for her philanthropy, but her $50 million of Apple, Inc. cash driving the "XQ Super School Project" comes on the heels of the $200 million of Gates money that bought the wretchedly misnamed "Common Core State Standards" for everyone in the country, bringing us a national curriculum that, where followed, results in even fewer high schools offering calculus because the CCSS-Math delays algebra and so leaves no room for the calculus by the 12th grade.

At least this "super school" thing won't be force fed to the country anytime soon.

George Rebane

Gregory 733am - My reading of their literature says that their "super school" does not yet exist - today there is nothing to "force feed to the country". They are soliciting ideas, concepts, and designs for better ways to field high school education.

And yes, THE PROBLEM with high schools is not that half of them don't offer calculus, but definitely A TELLING PROBLEM with high schools is that they don't - that was the point made.


Talking to my grandkids about Common Core, they express frustration that everyone has to work at the same pace. They are bright kids and want to accelerate, but the slowest students are controlling the pace in the classroom. Since the testing has to be all done on the computer at the same time, computer glitches continue to slow the testing, more frustration for the more competent. My youngest grandson observed students disrupting the testing by continually striking keys randomly, requiring the testing be restarted.

It will be interesting to see how the Super High School rolls out in the digital age. It should provide the opportunity for students to work at their own pace, and accelerate to advance levels of learning.


George, nowhere did I intimate there was a "super school" now. I was intimating I don't expect one to emerge that will be worth replicating.

The big problem with high schools is elementary schools doing a piss poor job of educating kids... this initiative will just be putting a nice shine on the turd.

The TELLING PROBLEM about calc in k-12 is kids arriving in high school not being ready to study algebra.

George Rebane

Gregory 1227pm - Agree with your refinements. But why don't you expect this program to come up with a high school concept "worth replicating"? Is there some seminal flaw in their planned effort?


It's fuzzy common core through and through, George, and that rock star in common core math, Stanford's Jo Boaler, a Professor(no math degrees) of Math Education is central in their guide to current best practices.

Boaler refused to release the data of her seminal work showing fuzzy math approaches to be superior, but analysis of her paper by skeptics indicated scientific fraud.

Google boaler milgram bishop clopton Railside

Just like with Gates Foundation money, when this big money goes looking for experts to hire, they get the ones who have been driving the bus that got us here in the first place.

They already know what they want to do; this is all about manufacturing consensus to do it.


Btw Boaler proudly states she never learned her 'times tables' and is adamant it never held her back.


Forgot to mention, Boaler doesn't believe in high school calculus.

George Rebane

Gregory 141pm - where did you see that she was one of the guiding mavens of XQ?

She's in there

Russ Steele


George, she is on page 9 of the Gregory referenced PDF

George Rebane

Thank you gentlemen; had no idea that she was such a prominent personality with deficient vitae. Being a hack piano player, I guess that equivalence would accredit me to pontificate on how to teach someone to become a concert pianist.


Would you say that the U.S. is a significantly anti-intellectual culture?


"Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" (Hofstadter)
"The Age of American Unreason" (Jacoby)

We should be more interested, at least initially, in getting U.S. students intellectually interested in algebra, let alone calculus. Or shall one not insist that every student take Algebra II? Putting up a mountain of money is not the same as having the wherewithal to persuade a high school student that it is in her/his interest to take algebra/geometry/calculus. Who has that wherewithal - some Fortune 500 MBA/JD CEO?

Steven Frisch

Posted by: George Rebane | 06 October 2015 at 03:43 PM

Yes I guess having a Masters and PhD from Kings College, being the author of 27 peer reviewed article and 8 books on education, and a 17 year tenured Professor at Stanford for, noted for its deficient educational credentials, makes one a "person of "prominent personality with deficient vitae."

Steven Frisch

Posted by: Onan | 06 October 2015 at 04:02 PM


George Rebane

StevenF 440pm - You seem to accept Boeler's vitae in the same vein as you accept the cohort of consensus scientists you claim agree about preventable global warming. Having a PhD in 'Mathematics Education' without any formal training in mathematics (and her post-doctoral work being taken to task by actual mathematicians) is more than a bit of a stretch according my sensibilities.

I'm kind of simple in that way - if you claim to know how to teach it (especially something as esoteric as mathematics), then you should first know how to do it. And I say this also as a lifelong educator who continues to this day (e.g. currently I mentor/tutor high schoolers in advanced mat) instructing students and professionals in the toolsets of the systems sciences. Although I hold a dual doctorate, I would not consider myself qualified to assemble a curriculum in neurobiology or even organic chemistry.

To a lay person unfamiliar with the fields in question, "having a Masters and PhD from Kings College" may sound like having ubiquitous credentials to teach almost anything. But to a professional applied mathematician like me, Dr Boeler's credentials are distinctly deficient for any work that actually involves doing mathematics. And that she and people like her are so intimately involved in this sphere goes a long way to explain why our high schools don't teach math very well, and our high school graduates rank poorly when compared with other OECD countries.

Onan 402pm - Very definitely we Americans are anti-intellectual and live in our post-intellectual age. There exists an extensive literature studying the greater decline of intellectualism in America and the west. From my own library I gathered a few books on the subject -

Slouching Towards Gomorrah - Robert Bork
Closing of the American Mind - Allan Bloom
Post-Intellectualism and the Decline of Democracy - Donald Wood
The Unraveling of the West - Donald Wood
From Dawn to Decadence - Jacques Barzun

Mr Frisch's 440pm swoon at the academic credentials of the Stanford professor just contributes a proximal example of this decline.


Math Education is valueless as a field of study and is the origin of the NCTM Math that trashed California schools in the 90's and the same NCTM Math that is the core of the common core. I know a number of mathematics professors, the professionals who actually advanced 20th and 21st century mathematics who think US k12 math education is on a free fall that will have to collapse before it can be reformed without the Boalers of the world.

The math ed people have in the past been very open about their core beliefs: traditional math ed, heavy on deductive reasoning and individual study, was good only for high socioeconomic white males wheras women and minorities learn best cooperatively, eschewing deduction for inductive approaches.

In short, Bowler's methods are math appreciation and have faied every time they were tried. Yes, they have their own imitations of the scientific method with claimed peer review that would make the climategaters blush, but instead of the culture of mathematics, physical science and engineering, the Ed brigade does not value rooting out errors.


George, if you don't have E.D. Hirschs' The Schools We Need and Why We Can't Have Them, you should. It lays out the dysfunctional education culture in no uncertain terms.


The conspicuous absence of Todd, Walt and Don on this thread is duly noted.

Steven Frisch

"You seem to accept Boeler's vitae in the same vein as you accept the cohort of consensus scientists you claim agree about preventable global warming. Having a PhD in 'Mathematics Education' without any formal training in mathematics (and her post-doctoral work being taken to task by actual mathematicians) is more than a bit of a stretch according my sensibilities."

No George I think that you resort to insult people intelligence when they disagree with your point of view. It is entirely possible that someone is accomplished, has a good CV, and is an intellectual, but they simply disagree with your point of view, and that person can be correct or incorrect in their beliefs and still have a good CV.

I do n to allow that existence of a strong CV or the absence of a strong CV sway me much; I want to hear the case one makes.

Steven Frisch

You do ot all the time George, the 'innumerate' the 'illiterate, the 'Gruberized' 'the last great century of man'

Jeez if I had your negative world view I would either shoot myself in the head or be an alcoholic.


The conspicuous absence of a cogent remark by Jon or Steve on this thread is duly noted.

Todd Juvinall

Jon | 06 October 2015 at 07:07 PM

The presence of "jon" here simply proves he is a bull shi** troll on every topic.


I found Glenn Reynold's K-12 Implosion most interesting.

. . . For decades now, America has been putting ever-growing amounts of money into its K-12 education system, while getting steadily poorer results. Now parents are losing faith in public schools, new alternatives are appearing, and change is on the way. The K-12 Implosion provides a succinct description of what's wrong, and where the solutions are likely to appear, along with advice for parents, educators, and taxpayers.

And his The Education Apocalypse: How It Happened and How to Survive It

The Education Apocalypse, Glenn Harlan Reynolds explains how American education as we knew it collapsed – and how we can all benefit from unprecedented power and freedom in the aftermath. From the advent of online education to the rebirth of forgotten alternatives like apprenticeships, Reynolds shows students, parents, and educators how—beyond merely surviving the fallout—they can rethink and rebuild American education from the ground up.

If I had school age children, I would be taking Glenn's advice. In the mean time I try to help my grandkids survive the current system and succeed despite the obstacles.


"the 'innumerate' the 'illiterate, the 'Gruberized' 'the last great century of man'

...Jeez if I had your negative world view I would either shoot myself in the head or be an alcoholic"

Having a handle on Reality makes it easier to tolerate, Steve.

Here's a great story that might help you put this all in context, from CBS News:

"Research over the years has indicated that XXXXXXXXX majors, who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. Some of academic evidence documenting easy A's for future XXXXXXXX goes back more than 50 years!"

George Rebane

StevenF 718pm - Again you misread. There is no agreement or disagreement with Dr Boeler, only with your support of her credentials regarding mathematics. Some of us want our children's education directed by people who are versed in the subject matter they purvey as educators - others don't care or substitute for that the level and source of their displayed post-graduate degrees. I happen to belong to the former group.

Gregory's 923pm reviews a CBS News article that reinforces what he and others of us have reported on for some years. Somehow that little item about American education never gets any traction with American progressives.

And that you ignore the intellectual state of our nation, and dun those who are aware and work daily to correct it is perfectly understandable given that your ideology practiced large has brought us to this state. It's tough for any of us to give up a lifelong belief system.


Steven might want to weigh in with how to resolve what a "strong CV" is when from a department with the lowest quality students. Steve? Or are all PhD's created equal?

Someone with a PhD in Mathematics Education could well have less mastery of Mathematics than someone with a bachelors in (real) Mathematics; it's a degree that the Education departments came up with because they tended to do very poorly in Mathematics as delivered by Math Departments and what they are interested in is not mathematics mastery but figuring out how to teach the subject they way they wanted it to be taught, by discovery methods, the darling of Education departments. At one CSU I know of, the math department was expected to teach prospective middle school teachers how to teach middle school math but kept failing the little darlings when they couldn't even *do* middle school math after a semester of refreshers. So the Education department took it over and, voila!

The math ed people are more focused on bringing up the bottom than allowing the top to learn to their potential but the problem has been they end up with many more at the bottom. My son, having spent a year doing the 1st and 2nd grade Mathland lessons as a 1st grader was going to be forced to repeat them in the 2nd grade because he'd learn so much more deeply by helping his classmates get it... and he was below average for an entering 2nd grader by the exam our local St.Sensible used to see where the kids were. Madness. It was not gratifying to be at the the Grass Valley School District board meeting after the first STAR exam results were made public... with half my son's cohort in the bottom quartile in both math and language, thanks to the "constructivist" learning theories embraced by the likes of Jo Boaler.

Russ, sorry to hear about your grandkid's Common Core experience. If they're in Nevada County, don't expect relief as our County supe, Holly Hermansen (wife of Jon Byerrum, the guy who poured whole math and language into the GVSD when he ran the district) is a special ed teacher by training and her department is in the can for Common Core. Expect no positive leadership by anyone, state or local. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

joe smith

I can understand your frustration at the lack of calculus being offered in schools. If there was a demand for calculus, it would be offered. In schools were it is offered it is a poorly attended class. Schools no longer teach penmanship or Latin for the same reason. I took trig and calculus in high school and can honestly say, I never once in my adult life applied the lessons learned. I CAN say that Latin has helped me immensely. We all benefit from different lessons, but unfortunately we can't afford to offer everything to all people. You would be the first in line fighting a tax increase to hire teachers of calculus, Latin, Korean, etc.

George Rebane

JoeS 848am - To the extent that America's economy becomes even more technology based, to that extent we need qualified STEM workers. Calculus is a necessary ingredient for that workforce for not only does it support the solving of many problems (work and society related) and the ability to better learn other non-math disciplines, calculus expands the mind's ability to think (Sapir-Whorf) about and understand the world around us. I am sorry that you have led a life which knowledge of trig and calculus could not improve.

Katie Lw

Is this related?

George Rebane

KatieL 842am - Yes it is related, thank you. Given the critiques of XQ, here and elsewhere, I may have to append an update in the finest Keynesian manner to retract my initial enthusiasm (or was it desperation?) to applaud new inroads to fixing the national disaster which is our progressive educational system.

Stacy Tiller

The XQ project sounds wonderful, here is a chance to create what is needed not just trying to fit what we need into what we have. The problem arises when you read the rules. The project is a Reality TV show. There is no way that putting teens on a reality tv show is going to improve high school.
Kaufman’s determined the number of contestants on U.S. reality shows since 2005 totals 34,080, 14 of them suicides. The national average rate for suicides is 12.4 per 100,000 people, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Reality TV Suicides: 14 Celebrities Have Died by Own Hand Since 2005
By Bill Hoffmann | Monday, 08 Apr 2013 02:38 PM

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