(2016) Taxpayer and grandparent letter to Lee County School Board- Math Standards in FL

James Milgram- proven math standards expert

James Milgram- proven math standards expert

Dear Superintendent and School Board,


As you know, I’ve been working with state and national experts on standards.  Here is an excellent short summary of the reasons we support other, more effective math standards by Deirdre Clemons which I am passing along for your review.  It would be important to plan workshops on adopting higher standards soon:

In 1992, California implemented new Math standards authored by a man named Phil Daro.  Four years later, California had dropped from the middle of the pack to 49th in the country.


So, the California State Board of Education requested Dr. James Milgram, Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, along with 3 of his colleagues, to create new CA math standards. The new standards were adopted in 1997 and for the next 10 years, they were regarded as the best math standards in the country. Across all ethnicities and SES levels, most kids were learning mathematics at a level very close to what is expected internationally. Milgram, by helping other states with their standards, became regarded as the country’s leading expert.

And so, the Common Core Committee chose Milgram to validate the Common Core Math standards, which incidentally, had as its creators Phil Daro (the man responsible for the disasterous CA standards), William McCallum, and Jason Zimba. Out of the 25 members of the Validation Committee, Milgram was the only content expert in math.

Milgram refused to sign off on the standards. He stated that the first three pages of the Mathematical Standards manual were nonsense. The manual was ‘philosophically’ based, encouraging students to justify answers by individual thinking processes, rather than on the foundations of mathematical science. For instance, if the student can explain his thinking as to why 2+2=5, it would be an acceptable answer.

Milgram stated that the math requirements were not enough. He stated that not only were the standards produced by non-qualified authors, they were not research based, and they would leave our kids at least 2 full years behind international expectations at the 8th grade level. He went on to say that the program for high school Math basically stops with Algebra I, and does not fully cover the material in a solid Geometry course, nor a 2nd year Algebra course. Trigonometry and Calculus would not be taught at all, except where knowledgeable parents demanded it. He stated the Common Core Standards would not bring kids up to college readiness because they are not high enough to get a student into a four year university.

In fact, Jason Zimba- one of the authors of the Common Core Math Standards stated, in a meeting with the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 that, “the definition of ‘college readiness’ for Common Core Math meets the minimal definition of college readiness”.  He stated, “it is not for STEM, and it is also not for selective colleges.” He said that Common Core Math would only prepare one for a 2 year, non-selective, Junior college.

Milgram agrees and stated that with Common Core, our kids would have a less than 40% chance of ever obtaining a college degree in ANY area, and only a 2% chance of getting an actual degree in STEM. He said that, as it is, our top engineering schools consist of one third American students and two thirds foreign students. He stated that the Common Core math would be a disaster, collapsing the STEM programs, and virtually emptying our top engineering schools of American students.

When we asked James Milgram which standards we should now support, he agreed Singapore Math was among the best.

I hope you will consider this information.  What our children are learning should be our main concern.

Chris Quackenbush