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> I never said not to teach the other 80%, they will still learn.

They never did before.  Your median high school graduate
took two years of "consumer" or general math and never
touched it again.  The majority of American adults couldn't
calculate the interest on a loan if their lives depended on it.
A sizeable minority can't calculate a tip.


>But if you don't meet the needs of the 10-15%, then you
>won't have as competent group of mathematicians and scientists
>in the future.

True enough.  If the reform movement takes over, I do wonder
how we'll serve the needs of graduate schools.

What I found using CPM was that my top students suffered little.
They seemed to adapt by concentrating on the challenge problems
others wouldn't touch.  As for their overall mathematical skills,.
perhaps they suffered a slight drop, but it certainly wasn't much, if
it existed at all.  On the other hand, I did find the number of
students succeeding in class increase dramatically, and over 50% of
my high school's graduates took Algebra II while in high school.
Our average SAT scores went up slightly, yet far more students
took the test.  More students also achieved recognition on the
Golden State Exam.  To me, that's success.

My hypothesis:

Traditional math instruction has evolved to become the best and
most efficient means of educating those destined to become the
scientists and engineers of the next generation.  Traditional
instruction is simultaneously a frustrating nightmare for most other
students.

The reform movement of the 1980s and 1990s has attempted to
bring in other methodologies so as to serve other learning modalities.
The resultant body of curriculum is not as efficient a means of
transmission of knowledge, but appeals to a far wider range of students.

Overall, I think that if reform math takes over, we will have a
significantly
better educated populace.  The challenge is in preventing the elite from
receiving a weaker education.


> The math being taught out there in the public schools is not strong
enough.

It never is, is it?  Seriously, however, this is another issue entirely.
If you
surveyed your feeder schools I'd be quite surprised if even 100 of your
600
students was in a reform math program.  Good teaching requires well
educated, well trained individuals with dedication to their profession
and
a good deal of autonomy to allow for innovation.  I've met many such
high
school teachers, but there are also many marginal ones.  So long as a
good
economy provides good paying jobs to new college graduates, a shortage
of excellent teachers will ensue.  We've got to make do with what we've
got.

Prof. Eric Kaljumagi
LAC/Math
Mt. San Antonio College