Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Update on National Math Panel

As promised, I am posting, with the permission of the National Math Panel, the reply to my latest email to the Panel. Jennifer Graban sent me this last Friday and you can read it for yourself and decide if you believe that some of my recommendations and those of others are now being considered seriously. Below, I will also briefly discuss the conversation I had with Ms. Graban when I called her:

Dear Mr. Marain,

We apologize for the delay in responding to your e-mail of February 11 and acknowledge your ongoing concerns about the composition of the Panel. Understanding the experiences of teachers, particularly algebra teachers currently teaching in the classroom, is important to the Panel and its final report. I have shared your concern with the Panel Chair, Larry Faulkner, as well as other Panel members. We are currently considering additional opportunities that will involve teachers to obtain their vital input in the work of the Panel.

Please know that Panel is most concerned with and plans to carefully consider the perspectives of today's math teachers.

Once again, thank you for your interest in the National Math Panel.



Jennifer Graban
National Math Panel Staff
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1200

I decided to call Ms. Graban last Friday afternoon around 4 PM EST. She picked up the phone immediately and we spoke for about 10-15 minutes. To the best of my recollection here's how it went:
I began by saying that I felt it important to put a voice to all the emails and blogs and let her know that I am a real person and not the enemy, just someone who feels that not having at least one secondary teacher on this panel was a gross oversight. Continuing, I indicated that, although it would be better to appoint 2-3 dozen classroom math teachers immediately, the reality is that the panel has less than one year to complete its task and publish its final report. Therefore I suggested the importance of identifying a cross-section of a few current high school math teachers with broad experience in both urban and suburban/rural school settings. I also volunteered to provide whatever input I could to the Panel, but certainly this group of teachers should be allowed to serve in an advisory capacity, i.e., freely provide their ideas and be be able to review and make suggestions now and to the final draft of the report before its release. I expressed that this would significantly enhance the credibility of the report. She replied that this was already being considered and she seemed to concur with some of my statements. I also mentioned my call for a national math curriculum but she indicated that the panel has not yet endorsed this. I also asked her if she had noted that the textbook publishers, who were allowed to give extensive presentations to the Panel, had indicated they now had editions for EACH state or nearly so. I expressed how absurd I felt this was and she did not disagree! We left the conversation cordially.

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