Text identical to archival version, embedded hyperlinks activated.

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 15:07:02 -0800
To: Melissa_Chabran@ed.gov
From: Kirby Urner <pdx4d@teleport.com>
Subject: Memorandum regarding pro-mathematics action
Cc: synergetics-l@teleport.com

November 17, 1997

Melissa Chabran
Planning and Evaluation Service
U.S. Department of Education

Dear Ms. Chabran --

Thank you for your timely reply to my memorandum of October 23, 1997 to 
Education Secretary William Riley. As this exchange of views concerns 
the public at large, I am archiving our correspondence to my website, 
where my pro-math campaign for 1998 has been redubbed "The Great Math 
Makeover of 1998" (the idea of "before" and "after" pictures suggests 
itself here).

Since my memo to Secretary Riley, I have fine tuned my model of our 
campaign to accommodate potential improvements in the curriculum which 
would obviate any need for civil disobedience or openly confrontational 
(yet nonviolent) actions.  I think the many local leaders of the 
makeover campaign (which potentially includes many teachers, including 
of non-math subjects) will need to exercise their best judgement as 
to what is required, on a case by case basis.

I realize that it may not be entirely clear to you, nor to Secretary 
Riley, why on earth I would consider weaknesses in the mathematics 
curriculum of sufficient urgency to warrant seeking endorsement from 
the USA Department of Education for a campaign of any kind, let alone 
one involving organized teacher-student protest, given the President's 
own policies and current initiatives in this area.

I try to be explicit and focussed around the various related issues 
and goals at my website, beginning with a campaign home page at:

             "The Great Math Makeover of 1998" 

To be brief, for the purposes of this communication, let me say simply 
that I find insufficient evidence in current working papers or 
curriculum planning memoranda accessible to me, through the internet 
and other channels, to persuade me that the best interests of the USA 
public are being served when it comes to this very important matter of
adequately preparing our young to assume greater responsibility for 
creating our shared future.  In particular, a lot of positive advances 
in the freedoms and social justice department are on hold because our 
many educational institutions, recipients of enormous numbers of tax 
dollars, continue to ignore curriculum material of relevance to K-12 
which would almost certainly give our students a more hopeful and 
attractive vision of the 21st Century (and beyond).  This means a 
lot of bright youngsters are simply not getting the professionally
assisted boost they have a right to expect in our democracy.

I believe these deficiencies are less a matter of fiscal mismanagement
than of misplaced confidance in a system of specialization which has 
disconnected even the most earnest reform-minded individuals from their
innate ability to integrate and derive responsible policies based on 
analysis of critical information readily available to them in the public 
domain. Indeed, it is this very inability to steer the curriculum 
juggernaut away from the grave consequences attendant upon over-
specialization which provides the most persuasive proof of the true
urgency of our situation.  

I fear the only solution may be to plan for a period of shipwreck and 
subsequent floundering about.  My makeover campaign may therefore take 
on more the aspect of a rescue operation, as the inability of our 
institutions to adequately respond becomes ever more evident to those 
whom they inadequately serve (myself included).

Thank you again for your timely response.  I have every hope that, 
working together, we will be able to make 1998 an essentially positive 
experience for all concerned.


Kirby Urner
Curriculum writer
4D Solutions

Historical note: I sent a followup within minutes correcting the bogus URL for the makeover home page.

Synergetics on the Web
maintained by Kirby Urner