Letters to the Editor: Critics of the new math curriculum framework, you have any better ideas?

A student at Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles works on math problems
A student at Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles works during a senior math class in 2019.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I admire the devotion shown by UC Berkeley professors Jennifer Chayes and Tsu-Jae King Liu to improving K-12 math education. But their op-ed article criticizing the proposed state framework omits key information that explains why their “better solution” will fail: It describes what California has been attempting for the last 30 years. (“California’s math education needs an update, but not the one proposed,” Opinion, May 12)

Only 18% of students who take Algebra I ultimately take an advanced math course beyond Algebra II, per the Public Policy Institute of California. The proposed framework, while not perfect, acknowledges the need for pathways that allow the remaining 82% to develop their mathematical reasoning in rigorous courses that provide an onramp to higher education.

Robert Gould, Los Angeles


The writer is vice chair of the Department of Statistics and director of the Center for Teaching Statistics at UCLA.


To the editor: As someone whose expertise is in learning, I want to commend Chayes and Liu for making excellent points that often get lost in the shuffle when discussing how to effectively teach math.

First, a strong foundation in math is essential for success in higher-level courses. Second, “fundamental math skills build on one another.” Finally, mastery should be the goal in all classes. Thus, mastering each of the small steps that build on one another will build a strong mathematical foundation.

One last point, which is integral to achieving success in math, is to adopt evidence-based curriculums that break math skills into their component steps and ensure students master each step before moving on to the next one, even if they do so at different speeds.

Teachers also need to adopt the philosophy that all students can master the material, given the right teaching

Henry D. Schlinger Jr., Glendale

The writer is a psychology professor at Cal State Los Angeles.


To the editor: The authors say virtually nothing about what should be done in lieu of adopting the proposed framework.

There are aspects of math teaching in California now that are appalling, such as Algebra II, which includes useless, difficult and confusing topics and needs to be dumped entirely. More basic algebra is vital to progress in math and science, despite what some complainers say.

Geometry is sneered at despite the fact that it is a useful introduction to logic and rational thought, and can appeal to students with an antipathy to numbers.

It is not hard to construct math courses that are comprehensible, make sense and cover the necessary ground. It is essential that they be presented with enthusiasm.

Rory Johnston, Hollywood

The writer headed a math department at a preparatory school in London.