Introduction

In December of 1997, the California State Board of Education was
moving toward final adoption of the mathematics standards for
California. In an unsuccessful attempt to influence the final 11-0 vote
by the Board, the faculty leaders of the academic senates of the
University of California, the California State University system, and
the California Community College system issued a joint statement
condemning the Board's actions. Although not one of these three
academic leaders is a mathematician, they implied in their statement
that "*the consensus position of the mathematical community*" was
in opposition to the Board approved mathematics standards.

In response, over 100 mathematicians -- and the list is growing --
from a broad spectrum of California's colleges and universities have
endorsed an open letter sharply disagreeing with the academic senate
officials.
They urge recognition of "*the important and positive role
California's recently adopted mathematics standards can play in the
education of future teachers of mathematics in the state of California*."

Jaime Escalante

"Stand and Deliver"

Hiram Johnson High School

Sacramento. CA

The open letter, along with supporting documents follows.

**Dear Chancellor Reed;
**

**Welcome to your new position as Chancellor of the California
State University system. The education and certification of
California's K-12 mathematics teachers is one of the many important
functions of the CSU. For this reason, we believe that it is important
that you have accurate information about matters relating to
mathematics education in California. **

**We are in disagreement with the letter
below signed by James Highsmith, Chair of the CSU Academic Senate, with
William Scroggins, President of the CCC Academic Senate, and Sandra J.
Weiss, Chair of the UC Academic Senate listed as co-authors.
**

**The December 8, 1997 letter from these Chairs of the Academic
Senates of the UC, CSU, and CCC suggests that " the consensus
position of the mathematical community" is in opposition to the
mathematics standards for K-12 adopted by the California
Board of Education and is generally in support of the rejected
draft standards written by the Academic Content and Performance
Standards Commission.
**

**It is our opinion that no such consensus exists within the
mathematics community of the state of California. Most mathematicians
are not familiar with any of the proposed K-12 mathematics standards
and they've certainly never been polled. **

**If their views were solicited, we believe that most
mathematicians would find serious shortcomings in the Commission's
draft standards which the California Board of Education rejected. For
example, the Commission standards which Drs. Highsmith, Scroggins, and
Weiss described as " aligned with the Roundtable's standards"
which "incorporate the best advice from the most respected faculty
in our systems and in the country" fail to require K-12 students
ever to master long division when the divisor has more than a single
digit. According to the letter
below by Academic Standards Commissioner Bill Evers, this was not
merely an oversight, but rather a conscious decision on the part of the
Commission.
**

**The California Board of Education's decision to avoid stipulating
teaching methods, instead focusing on appropriate mathematical content,
was a wise decision considering the disparate views on pedagogy.
**

**Good mathematics standards require mastery of both basic skills
and broader mathematical concepts. We urge you to recognize the
important and positive role California's recently adopted mathematics
standards can play in the education of future teachers of mathematics
in the state of California.
**

**David Klein**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Hung-Hsi Wu**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Berkeley**Wayne Bishop**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**William L. Armacost**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Dominguez Hills**Sheldon Kamienny**

Professor of Mathematics

University of Southern California**Ralph Cohen**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Jerry Rosen**

Profesor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Marshall Cates**

Department of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Jacek Polewczak**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**John Dye**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Richard Katz**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**David Protas**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Ali Zakeri**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Martin Scharlemann**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Barbara**Prof. James D. Stein Jr.**

Department of Mathematics

California State University, Long Beach**Gunnar Carlsson, Chair**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Kurt Kreith**

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

University of California, Davis**George Biriuk**

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Don Kiel**

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science

California State University, Los Angeles**Charles Akemann**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Barbara**Dr. Richard Ferrier**

Tutor

Thomas Aquinas College**R. James Milgram**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Lorraine L. Foster**

Professor of Mathematics

California State Univeristy, Northridge**Geoffrey Mess**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Carolyn Facer**

faculty member

Department of Mathematics

El Camino College**Michael J. Hoffman, Chair**

Professor of Mathematics

Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science

California State University, Los Angeles**Kent G. Merryfield**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Long Beach**Peter Petersen**

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Howard Swann**

Professor of Mathematics

San Jose State University**Reinhard Schultz, Chairman**

Department of Mathematics

University of California, Riverside**Mary Rosen**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Abigail Thompson**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Davis**Paul Chabot**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Gordon L. Nipp**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Steve Kerckhoff**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Brian White**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Rick Schoen**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Tracy Gustafson**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Dr. Raj Pamula**

Undergraduate Advisor

Dept. Of Mathematics & Computer Science

Calfiornia State University, Los Angeles.**Jun Li**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Leon Simon**

Professor of Mathematics

Stanford University**Abel Klein**

Professor and Chair

Department of Mathematics

University of California, Irvine**Peter Li**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Irvine**George Woodbury**

Mathematics Instructor

College of the Sequoias**Svetlana Jitomirskaya**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Irvine**Daryl Cooper**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Barbara**Ross Rueger**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Mark Tom**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**John Redden**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Christine DeFlitch**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Nora Wheeler**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Gary Howland**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Steve Houk**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Dennis Morley**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Darren Long**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Barbara**Fred Wilhelm,**

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Riverside**Maria Noronha**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Mary Bologna**

Lecturer in Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Andrei Verona**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Brant Wassall**

Instructor in Computer Science

California State University, Los Angeles**Mary L. Browne**

Secondary Mathematics Instructor, LAUSD

Teaching Associate in Mathematics

California State University, Los Angeles**Peter Doyle**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, San Diego**Tudor Ratiu**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Cruz**V. S. Varadarajan**

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Geoffrey Mason**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Santa Cruz**Don Rose**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Mark Laurel**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Kamel Haddad**

Associate Professor, Mathematics

California State University, Bakersfield**Chetan Prakash**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, San Bernardino**Roberto Schonmann**

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Peter Williams**

Professor of Mathematics

California State University, San Bernardino**Lisa Anderson**

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Ventura Community College**Radu Toma**

Mathematics Instructor

Canada College**Michelle Erickson**

Mathematics Instructor

College of the Canyons**Steve Breen**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Northridge**Rena Petrello**

Instructor of Mathematics

Moorpark College**Edward Effros**

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Murray Schacher**

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA**Richard Quint**

Professor of Mathematics

Ventura Community College**Hans Wenzl**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, San Diego**Scott Wilson**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**Yoshi Inoue**

Instructor of Mathematics

College of the Sequoias**George Jennings**

Associate Professor of Mathematics

California State University, Dominguez Hills**Merrill Eastcott**

Math Instructor &

Math Department Faculty Coordinator

El Camino College**Mei-Chu Chang**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Riverside**Ziv Ran**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Riverside**Matthew G. Robertson**

Instructor of Mathematics

Cuesta College**Haruzo Hida**

Professor

Department of Mathematics

UCLA**Joel Hass**

Professor of Mathematics

University of Califorrnia, Davis**P. K. Subramanian**

Professor of Math & Comp Sci

California State University, Los Angeles**Peter Basmaji**

Professor of Mathematics

California State Uiversity, Los Angeles**Albert Schwarz**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Davis**Dmitry Fuchs**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Davis**Sherman Stein**

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

University of California at Davis

Author of__Strength in Numbers__**Bruce K. Driver**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, San Diego**Gregory Kuperberg**

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Davis**John M. Bachar, Jr.**

Professor of Mathematics

California State Univeristy, Long Beach**John de Pillis**

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, Riverside**Barry Simon**

IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Mathematics Department Chair

California Institute of Technology**Henry L. Alder**

Professor Emeritus of Mathematics

University of California, Davis

Former President of the Mathematical Association of America

Former Member of the State Board of Education**Jennifer Chayes**

Vice-President, American Mathematical Society

Professor of Mathematics

UCLA

**
**

December 8, 1996

Mrs. Yvonne Larsen, President

State Board of Education

721 Capitol Mall, Room 532

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear President Larsen,

On behalf of the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) of California's institutions of public higher education, we are writing to urge the State Board of Education to reconsider the directions it is taking with its mathematics standards. You have an opportunity to select standards that will demand the basic skills, conceptual understanding, and problem solving skills that California's students need.

Since ICAS represents the faculty of UC, CSU and CCC, we are very interested in the academic preparation of students for college. ICAS recently developed the Statement on Competencies in Mathematics Expected of Entering College Students, which is a cogent description of the mathematics that students should understand and be able to do in order to be successful in college. This document has been endorsed by the faculty senates in our three systems, which would not have been possible had the document chosen an extreme or unusual position on the controversial issues of math education. Although the faculty of our three systems hold a wide range of opinion on these matters, the majority support a moderate approach to math competencies.

ICAS also participated in the development of the California Education Roundtable's (CERT) recommended high school graduation standards. These standards are consistent with the ICAS statement on math competencies, and strike an appropriate balance in approaches to math expectations. The standards incorporate the best advice from the most respected faculty in our systems and in the country. We were quite pleased when the Commission recommended to your board standards that were aligned with the Roundtable's standards. It appeared that the teachers of math in California were going to get coherent directions from both higher education and from their board of education. We were then disappointed to learn that our state board of education was selecting a vastly different direction for the state, in clear contrast to the position offered by the joint expertise of our institutions of higher education.

We are concerned about the Board's lack of open, broad based consensus-building in developing the math standards. Your choice of experts to help you write the standards reflect [sic] a traditional view of mathematics which is not broadly representative. In contrast, the ICAS competencies and the CERT standards carry the collective endorsement of the faculty and the consensus position of the mathematical community.

The world has learned much about effective mathematics standards in recent years. Other States have built upon available research, and experiments in other countries, as they have written standards that are in stark contrast to the directions that your State Board is taking. We urge you to reconsider your decision so that our State can also have math standards which truly prepare our children for a contemporary world.

[the letter is hand signed by Highsmith; the other names are listed and presumably agreed to the letter, but the letter does not have their signatures]

James Highsmith

Chair, CSU Academic Senate

William Scroggins

President, CCC Academic Senate

Sandra J. Weiss

Chair, UC Academic Senate

Text of James Highsmith's letter to Yvonne Larsen, 12/9/97

Your board committee's proposals for K-7 and 8-12 mathematics standards are at great variation from the consensus developed in California regarding mathematics education for public schools. Moreover, the truncated and closed process you have used to ignore the advice of the vast majority of math professionals and experts is antithetical to your public mission.

The faculties of California higher education endorsed mathematical standards for high school graduation that were developed under the aegis of the California Education Round Table. Broad agreement was reached with teachers, school professionals, and public members. It is troubling, to put it mildly, to think that our public representatives are now prepared to chuck that work and the work of the AB 265 Commission which aligned its standards with the Round Table's.

It is time for us to send a clear, consistent message to schools and teachers--a message that allows teachers to incorporate the best about what we have learned from around the world regarding rigorous and achievable math preparation.

I most strongly urge you to continue working on the math standards proposal with faculty appointed by the California State University, University of California, and California Community Colleges who have managed to reach agreement on what our children will need in the next millennium. The broad range of opinion has been distilled to a rigorous middle course that would allow teachers to prepare students well for the math skills and understanding [sic]. The State Board of Education should not adopt proposals that stray from that strong moderate course.

James M. Highsmith, Chair

Academic Senate, CSU

Stanford University

Palo Alto, California

December 26, 1997

For the record, the omission of long division with 2 or more digit divisors was a conscious decision. I pointed out in writing and in oral comments before the Commission that this was missing.

I cannot pretend to read the minds of all Commissioners and consultants. Undoubtedly some thought long division obsolete; others probably thought teachers would teach long division and that it need not be specifically mentioned. The problem with this latter view is that since long division was not an explicit expectation under the Commission's standards, teachers and testmakers could and would in good conscience omit it. Since it would not have appeared on a state standards-based test (had one been created under the Commission's standards), it would have widely been dropped from textbooks and curricula used around the state.

Bill Evers

Commissioner, Academic Standards Commission