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Letters to the Editor

Sat., Aug. 13, 2011

Back to basics

As an attorney and employer for 27 years, I could not understand why job applicants did not know basic math or English. I recently learned that public schools stopped teaching certain arithmetic skills to mastery, including long division, fractions and the number line. Instead, children are taught reform math (also known as “fuzzy math” or “new math”) via a “discovery” method.

Advocates of reform math say that memorizing the times tables is “drill and kill” and that knowing standard procedures is obsolete. They say all children should have calculators and don’t need to know that 7 x 7 = 49.

Of course, if one enters the wrong numbers on the calculator, the answer is incorrect. Students can no longer estimate the correct answer. In math class, children are put into groups to discuss math problems and reach agreement. The smartest student provides the answer. In my day, this was called cheating; today it’s called collaboration.

The Spokane school board has long supported this approach. Sally Fullmer is running to serve on the Spokane school board. She knows that teaching the basics to mastery is essential, and I urge the public to vote for her in the upcoming school board election.

Cheryl Mitchell


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