Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Letter to WSJ

Dear Editor:

Edward Frenkel displays a high level of acuteness with regard to the esoteric boundaries of mathematics  ("Weekly Confidential," August 24, 2013). Nevertheless, his keen insight is not omnipresent.

To wit: In defense of the Common Core Standards Initiative, Mr. Frenkel makes an analogy to the heights of doorways. He claims the varying standards found in the several states are akin to doorways of different heights -- this notion he challenges and fears. Though, one stroll through, say, the Notre-Dame de Paris reveals the error in the analogy: doorways are set at different heights for reasons that make perfect sense.

The same is true for academic standards. No one -- no entity -- can define a set of standards that serve all purposes. To claim and advocate otherwise is to miss the lesson to be learned at Notre-Dame, or any building for that matter.

The Common Core Standards Initiative will not improve educational outcomes in the US, just as standard doorway heights would not have improved the Notre-Dame. Furthermore, to conceive of an entity setting standards that are neither political nor lacking is to view the process of zoning as the means to structures that have a greater sense of beauty than a French gothic cathedral.


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