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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

April 8, 2000 Contact: Rachel Snyder (312) 996-3457; rsnyder@uic.edu

ADVISORY to EDUCATION REPORTERS, NEWS PLANNING and ASSIGNMENT DESKS

'WHY JOHNNY CAN'T ADD' DEBATE HEATS UP

When the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released the1989 document "Standards for School Mathematics" it set off a debate that still sizzles a decade later. Dubbed the "Math Wars," the controversy created deep divisions in the means and methods of math education and has resulted in at least one threatened hunger strike and a full-page ad in the Washington Post by a group called the Mathematically Correct that denounces the reforms.

The debates will come to a head next week as 18,000 mathematics teachers, school administrators and education leaders gather in Chicago for the annual NCTM conference, April 12 - 15. Leading this year's meeting is the official NCTM release of the revised "Principles and Standards for School Mathematics," an updated version of the 1989 reforms.

The University of Illinois at Chicago has been at the forefront of this reform movement, implementing pilot programs in schools nationwide and authoring various portions of these reforms.

The reform document will be unveiled at the press conference April 12. Expected to attend are Gov. George Ryan, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, and Superintendent of the Illinois Board of Education Glen McGee.

UIC experts include:

  • Professor Philip Wagreich, director of the Institute for Mathematics and Science Education at UIC. More than 250,000 students nationwide are currently using his "Math Trailblazers" curricula, which complies with NCTM standards. He was also one of the 24 authors of this year's NCTM reform document. Professor Wagreich has received more than $19 million from the National Science Foundation in math education grants. "When people wrote the new math standards in 1989, they had no idea the impact they would have," he says. "Now there are history and English standards that are also controversialů. Math programs have to be coherent. Just having a teaching technique that engages the kids with a set of activities isn't enough if they don't fit together. [The new reform document] does a more modern job of laying out the vision and need for coherence." (312) 413-3019
  • Cathy Kelso, codirector of the Teaching Integrated in Mathematics and Science program at UIC. TIMS improves math and science preparation of elementary school kids and integrates these disciplines to make math more meaningful and science more rigorous for students. Kelso is both familiar with the 1989 standards and its implications for the philosophy of mathematics education. (312) 996-6098
  • Marty Gartzman, director of outreach programs for the Institute for Mathematics and Science Education at UIC. Gartzman has been instrumental in curriculum development and implementation of pilot programs both in the Chicagoland area and throughout the nation. (312) 413-2971
Elementary, middle and high school visits in the Chicagoland area for reporters wishing to observe classrooms using the new reform can be arranged with advance notice. Contact Rachel Snyder, 996-3457; rsnyder@uic.edu

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