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Yes, California, There Is a Right Answer

They say you can't fight city hall—but a group of California parents calling itself Mathematically Correct (MC) has taken on the statehouse and won the right to restore a rigorous math curriculum to public education.

It is only just that the tide should begin turning in the former Golden State, which, because it boasts the biggest market for textbooks, has imparted to the rest of the states so many ghastly fads, from Whole Language to anti-American "history" to science-as-radical-environmentalism.

The "Whole Math" fad against which Mathematically Correct campaigned successfully is based on: a verbalizing and visualizing approach rather than an abstract, numerical one; a reliance upon concrete "manipulatives" (marbles, straws, etc.) in lieu of abstract number concepts; a demotion of the classroom teacher from leader to "co-discoverer" who "facilitates" rather than instructs; an emphasis on teamwork rather than measurable individual achievement; the use of calculators even in the lower grades for routine computation; a fixation on everyday, "real world" applications for math (balancing your checkbook, buying groceries, selling lemonade); and much, much talk about "process" and "method" and "critical," "higher-order thinking" as opposed to memorization of facts and the specific content of the various domains of mathematics.

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