Sat Sep 13 2003 12:31: This is what I wrote about Jeanne's math joke:

I have to say I laughed out loud when I read it. I think it's very funny. On the other hand, I wonder if the joke might be racist? I haven't clarified my mental position on whether or not it is, but it does play to the paranoia of those who dread being overtaken by the Hispanic population.

I think the real way math teaching will go in the future is to become more algebraic. Story problems bomb with today's kids because they can't read and their critical thinking skills are nil.

For two years I taught math (in Spanish) to immigrant kids in a bilingual classroom. They were doing okay, considering the mathematical idiot they had for a teacher. Then the people of the state passed Proposition 187 and bilingual programs were eliminiated. These immigrant kids did not survive in regular math classrooms. Of course, part of the problem was they weren't on grade level to begin with. Many of them had dropped out of school after third grade, as they are allowed to do under Mexican law. I had some kids who couldn't even count buttons into a muffin tin, and they were 12, 13 years old already! Right. So let's have them do it in English too!