In a letter to the editor published on July 28, I pointed out the real problem and the real difference between the US and "high-performing foreign countries" is the length of both the school day and school year:
Fix class time, not standards
Re: "State should adopt U.S. math standards" (Editorials, July 24) and "Proposed math standards unteachable" (Viewpoints, July 24): Both the editorial and op-ed column miss the point.
California's current curriculum is indeed "mile wide, inch deep." The reason it is an "inch deep" is because the school day and school year are too short and because students are not required to take mathematics through 12th grade.
"High-performing foreign countries" teach the same breadth of material, but they can teach it better because the school day and school year are longer and students have more years of mathematics instruction.
The state's current system is not a "successful" program, it is just broken differently.
No amount of changed standards or national commission reports will catch us up with the many countries ahead of us in math education; only the realization that, like learning to play well some musical instrument, learning mathematics requires many hours and years of study and practice.
- John Burke, Sacramento