Bob Dean

Are we fixing the State's Math Problem? – Fat Chance!

Everyone knows we have a nation wide obesity problem. Imagine if we attempted to do something about that problem in this state using the same methods that we have used to attack our math education problem. A press conference on our solutions might go as follows:

Pressroom: Welcome to the joint press conference on fitness and the fight against obesity. Our panelists include the Governor, a spokesperson from OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction), a distinguished University Professor of Education, an illustrious member of our State Board of Education and a citizen from the grass roots organization called WTM (Where’s the Meat). We are now ready to take your questions.

Reporter: Governor, what are you going to do about the obesity problem in this state?

Governor: We recognize that in order to compete in the 21st century global economy our children need to be fit. We have spent over a billion dollars on this problem during the last decade but we need to do more. I have been working with legislators and OSPI and I believe we have a come up with a comprehensive solution to this problem.

OSPI: Yes, we have developed a research based plan that relies on proven best practices. We now understand that the problem can be solved if we just teach kids to think about eating instead of actually doing it.

Reporter: It seems like that would cause some major problems. Can’t kids just lose weight if they eat less and exercise more?

OSPI: Nonsense! Our kids can’t lose weight the way their parents did. Research shows kids will eat less if we let them discover which foods make them fat.

Reporter: Isn’t it true that other national experts have thoroughly investigated our problem and they have found that our state scale is broken and doesn’t measure weight accurately.

OSPI: Nonsense! We have an exemplary scale. Let’s be adults here…. Our kids will never buy into weight loss if we continue to argue about the scale…we need to stop the food fight.

Governor: The problem is that many teachers are expecting kids to know the calories that specific foods contain. We can’t ask kids to memorize calories….it’s drill and kill all over again. We are providing funds for massive professional development to instruct teachers how to show students a way to lose weight without really trying.

WTM Member: But shouldn’t we be addressing what kids are eating?

OSPI: These WTM members are a bunch of Wacko’s…..Most of them are thin and/or have their weight under control and they just don’t understand how fat people think.

SBE: We have just finished having a national consultant analyze our present standards and they have found the state scale to be severely flawed.

OSPI: Yes, but we need to make sure that we don’t throw the French fries out with cooking oil……

Governor: I’m getting hungry!

University Ed Prof: We can’t just use anecdotal evidence; we must rely on the latest educational research. For example: Research shows that the Japanese eat far less fat than Americans and suffer far fewer heart attacks. Research also shows that the French eat far more fat than Americans but also suffer far fewer heart attacks. From research then, we can conclude that it really doesn’t matter what you eat……it’s speaking English that’s killing you.

Pro Reformer in the audience: I think it’s all about how you get on the scale….

Teacher’s Union member: The real problem is that the NCLB (No child left behind Act) is killing us. We are proposing massive changes to the NCLB. In fact we are even proposing a new name…..the NFLB (No Fad Left Behind).

Ed Prof: Eating fewer calories and exercising more won’t solve the problem……Kids need to be able to explain in writing how they feel about losing weight.

Pro Reformer: Are kids allowed to use a calculator when they figure how many calories they eat?

Reporter: Don’t Asian countries have a lot less problems with obesity? Shouldn’t we look into what they are doing?

Ed Prof: We can’t just recommend eating fewer calories…….We need to teach kids that losing weight is fun.

Pro Reformer: I heard the Gates Foundation is going to buy up all of the McDonalds restaurants and then shut them down.

Teacher in the Audience: What about giving an end of course assessment that measures what kids learned about calories and weight loss?

OSPI: “Over my dead body”, figuratively speaking of course. We have a comprehensive plan for weight loss instruction and we need to stick to it…..Read my lips “There is no train wreck.”

Reporter: What does the State board of Education have to say about all of these discussions?

SBE: Can’t we all just get along? (sigh)

Bob Dean

Math Teacher Singer/songwriter

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