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Letters to the Editor

High school math teachers invited to trig training class

To the editor:

Here is a real life example of the compelling need for the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). A lineman at Alliant Energy had a trig problem.  He asked and got no help from a math teacher having a masters degree. The lineman then turned to the licensed engineer, who had been trained in practical high school trig applications, and in less than a minute solved the problem.   

For thousands of years, education disciplines developed a system based on better understandings of the concepts evident in life experiences. The rest of the world continues to use this system, developing minds from elementary to advanced secondary levels.

The U.S. recklessly abandoned this proven system and adopted a system focused on memorizing facts and training teachers to help with memorization! After more than 50 years of this failed model, its victims can’t teach and instead receive awards for being liked by students.  

Educators who realize how bad the system is, have been forced to continue doing things the wrong way, if they want to work in education. This editorial arms the public with the truth to present to local school boards, to help them deal with the education lobby, that caused the failed curriculum and teacher training programs — that prevent students from reaching global standards.  

The most recent National Council on Teacher Quality report cited the following Iowa teacher prep programs for doing some things correctly:

Highest ranked elementary programs (national rank):

Iowa State University — Undergraduate (37) 

University of Iowa — Undergraduate (44) 

Luther College — Undergraduate (125) 

Briar Cliff University — Undergraduate (242) 

Simpson College — Undergraduate (345) 

Highest ranked secondary programs (national rank): 

University of Iowa — Undergraduate (14) 

Coe College — Undergraduate (23) 

Buena Vista University — Undergraduate (193) 

Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary — Undergraduate (193) 

Central College — Undergraduate (297) 

Local school boards must place hiring emphasis on teachers trained in the above institutions, or better, according to the NCTQ website — and also challenge these institutions to show evidence the graduating teachers can actually teach students to global standards! Help is available!

Alliant is willing to help with math by extending an invitation to high school math teachers to attend a local high school-level trig training class in Marshalltown (usually two are held each year for linemen). The licensed engineer instructor begins all of these classes with an open discussion of activities in each person’s life and explaining the underlying math concepts, and connecting the concepts to other disciplines. Some history of math concepts and their applications is also included to assist with the ability to see multiple applications of concepts around us. Some review of algebra concepts is included to avoid the memorized order of operations used by public schools today because they lack knowledge of math concepts. Alliant can only accommodate two math instructors per training, and will provide lunch. There is no cost. Interested schools can contact me — P.O. Box 301, Baxter IA 50028 — and I will pass along the contact information to the pertinent individuals at Alliant, for further contact with the school officials.

Sue Atkinson, PhD


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