Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


When I set down to write my weekly column (blog), I sometimes have to follow up on previous stories. This is one of them.

Not long ago I was concerned about the pending new math standards that have been adopted by the State of Kansas Board of Education.  After seeming to defeat the introduction of the Common Core Standards in this state, which are very unpopular, it looked like the new standards may have been renamed and introduced anyway.

I try to find out the information on both sides but what prompted me to be concerned was a friend whose daughter, a math teacher, was upset with the new standards. I got in touch with my representative as I did when the Common Core was being debated at the state level and seemingly defeated. He referred my inquiries to a member of the State BOE. This was passed on to the person who was involved with the hearings and was the contact person for questions.

During all the referrals I went ahead and wrote my concerns. I am happy that I was finally contacted by Melissa Fast. She went through the process that the new standards were arrived at and how they were vetted.

The proposed standards that are updated every seven years were posted on the BOE website. The open forum was available for 2 months and had 1000 shares. The committee that adopted the standards were made up of teachers, administrators, and representatives of rural, urban, K-12, and College level, and geographic regions.

There was a determination that there should be a rearrangement of priorities and content taught at different levels. Melissa stressed that Common Core methodology was not a part of the new standards. Yet there is still some teacher concerns.

The new guidelines and standards were taken around the state in meetings with teachers. The new proposals were then gone over by an Ad Hoc Committee including business & industry, parents, legislators, special ed, and math teachers. The standards went through 3 drafts and were voted on in August of 2017.

When I made my concerns over math made to MS. Fast she agreed that the seeming levels of math competence that are seen in daily life are concerning. She seemed to be understanding on my retardation in the area of math by being taught the ‘New Math’ of the 1960’s & 70’s. I have been a part of discussions about the ability of graduates from high school being unfit to go into the work place in the past. There is a crying need for simple arithmetic basics to be mastered at a young age.

I have often said that math is still Chinese to me and to try and do more than simple math gives me a headache. With the amount of college credits that I have floating around and the work experience that takes a part in the completion of adult college degrees, the one thing that would hold me back is the math.

So is Kansas on the right track of how our kids will be taught math? I do not know. What I do know is that the results will show up soon. And the next time a clerk cannot make change for me I will wonder if anything will change?

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