Mathematics Reform for the `Real World'

The changes in the way that mathematics is taught in school described in the Learning page article "Math Lessons for the Real World," Nov. 9, are exactly the wrong type of educational reform in light of ongoing efforts to make the United States more technologically competitive with the rest of the world.

Mathematics is a foundation for every engineering, scientific, and technical field of study.

The 1989 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards endorsed by Thomas Romberg, director of the National Center for Research in Mathematical Sciences Education, represent a drastic watering down of the secondary school mathematics curricula. They dismiss algebra and geometry as old disciplines, while eliminating calculus entirely from schools.

Calculus is the starting point for college-level math. Students who took this new curriculum in high school would find themselves two years behind their traditionally taught classmates on the first day of college. These currently proposed changes are an unwelcome turn back to second-rate mathematics. Bill O'Meara, Seattle Media: Fair or Foul?

Regarding the editorial "Media: Fair or Foul?," Oct. 29: Because I know that reporters are people and that good reporting requires a point of view, I expect and tolerate a certain level of bias in reporting the news. When reporting exceeds that level, however, I give the benefit of the doubt to the person, idea, or thing being flogged.

I know that as a person I have my own viewpoint. I receive the news from a variety of sources. It is only when most reporters agree at the same time that I find it impossible to learn all of the sides of the story.

Could it be that public frustration is not so much with bias as with misunderstanding? J. Willits Lane, Tallahassee, Fla. Anti-Polish nature of cartoon

I am disgusted by the anti-Polish nature of Jeff Danziger's cartoon "In Washington, Everybody's Under Investigation... ," Oct. 16. While the various patrons have Anglo-Saxon names, the kitchen person was given an ethnic name, Krebneski.

The naming of the character tends to reinforce negative and inaccurate stereotypes about Polish-Americans: namely that we are capable of and suitable for only drudge work.

I am certain that Mr. Danziger would not have used the names Garcia or Rossi, and he would not have made the person an African-American. Such bias would be politically incorrect. But this subtle bias directed at Polish-Americans seems to be politically correct. Robert F. Dobek, Washington The flight of hot air balloons

I love the Home Forum page article on hot air ballons, "Soaring on the Wings of ... Hot Air," Oct. 20. Recently, several of these "huge colorful spheres" were launched about a mile from our house, and as I watched them float overhead, I wondered what such a flight would be like. The writer addresses my wonderings more than adequately, and I am amused at how her initial misgivings mirrored my own. This is reading at its most delightful - learning something new and exciting and laughing at myself at the sa me time. Janet Danielson, Lincoln, Neb.

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