COMET • Vol. 10, No. 01 – 21 January 2009


(1) Mathematics Framework Update: Applications are Invited for Focus Group and for Writing Committee

Source/Contact: Mary Sprague, Consultant, Curriculum Frameworks Office, California Department of Education – (916) 319-0510 or 

The California Department of Education (CDE) is currently accepting applications from individuals wishing to participate in one of the following two groups as part of the process to update the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve.

1. Mathematics Framework Focus Group
2. Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC)

More information about each of these groups and about the Mathematics Framework follows below:

Mathematics Framework Focus Group

These meetings mark the beginning of the Framework update process. All meetings are open to the public and will be held in the afternoon (approximately 3:30-6:30 p.m.) on the dates and at the locations specified below:

— April 23 (Santa Barbara County Office of Education)
— May 13 (Tehama County Department of Education)
— May 21 (Alameda County Office of Education)
— May 28 (San Diego County Office of Education)

During these meetings, Focus Group members will participate in a facilitated group discussion around Targeted Questions. The audience will have an opportunity to offer public comment (orally and/or in writing) at each meeting. All comments received during the Focus Group meetings will be forwarded to both the Curriculum Commission and to the State Board of Education for consideration.

Although these are public meetings and anyone is welcome to attend as part of the audience, members of the focus group must be educators at the time of appointment. According to California Education Code Section 44013(a), “‘educator’ means a certificated person holding a valid California teaching credential or a valid California services credential issued by the Commission who is employed by a local education agency or by a special education local planning area and who is not employed as an independent contractor or consultant.”

The Focus Group recruitment letter is available online at The application is available at The application deadline is March 3, 2009.


Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC)

The CFCC will work with a primary writer contracted with the CDE to prepare a draft of the Mathematics Framework. The CFCC will include between 9 and 20 members, selected in a way to ensure balanced representation of regions, knowledge, and grade level experience. (Note: Members of the CFCC do not have to be credentialed teachers.) The five meetings of the CFCC members will be held in Sacramento between November 2009 and June 2010.

The direct link to the CFCC recruitment letter is The application is available for download from The CFCC application deadline is May 12, 2009.


Mathematics Framework Writer

CDE also plans to contract with a writer for the update of the framework. Individuals, organizations or local educational agencies interested in this opportunity should contact Mary Sprague ( for additional information.


Mathematics Framework–General Information

The Mathematics Framework is designed to provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents in the implementation of mathematics education that reflects the state-adopted content standards. The Framework will also provide additional guidance on ways to help close the achievement gap between lower-performing and higher-performing students. A framework is like the scaffolding upon which the state builds support for teaching the content standards, i.e., the subject matter teachers teach in the classroom that is appropriate for the grade level being taught.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell recently asserted, “Young people today live in an age where virtually everything they interact with has a basis in technology, whether it’s a computer, iPod, or mobile phone. Technology starts with an understanding of mathematics. In addition, mathematics teaches valuable critical thinking skills. That’s why we must have a well-developed Mathematics Framework to help students focus on the skills they will need in order to function and compete in a more global, technologically challenging world.”

Please visit to view the timeline of events for the 2011 Mathematics Framework update.


(2) Mathematics Teaching Authorizations to be Addressed at January CCTC Meeting

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)
URL (Agenda Item):

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) began a discussion at its October 2008 meeting related to the preparation of mathematics teachers ( At the November 2008 Commission meeting, CCTC staff presented a plan for addressing issues related to mathematics credentials/authorizations (see A related item on the December 2008 agenda focused on the Mathematics Specialist Credential (see

An Information Item on the January 29 Commission meeting agenda “continues the discussion begun at the October 2008 Commission meeting related to the teaching of mathematics in California. The focus of this item is the authorization statements for documents that authorize the teaching of mathematics.” Please refer to the complete text of this item at

A very useful chart containing the following categories related to mathematics credentials and authorizations is included in this document: (a) Credential Type, (b) Authorized Assignments, (c) Grade Levels/ Settings, and (d) Subject Matter Preparation Required. A note indicates whether or not an authorization is NCLB-compliant. The credentials and authorizations included in the chart are the following: Multiple Subject Credential, Single Subject Credential in Mathematics, Single Subject Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics, Subject Matter Authorization in Mathematics, Supplementary Authorization in (Introductory) Mathematics added to Elementary Credential, Supplementary Authorization in (Introductory) Mathematics added to Secondary Credential, Short-Term Staff Permit in Mathematics, Intern Permit in Mathematics, Local Teaching Assignment Option (LTAO) in Mathematics, and the Single Subject Limited Assignment Permit in Mathematics.

Live audio and video of the January 29 Commission meeting are available via the Internet. See the links at the top of the Web page on which the agenda is posted:


(3) A California Teacher of the Year, “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” is One of Four Finalists for Top National Teaching Honor

Source: California Department of Education

Last Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell expressed pleasure that Alex Kajitani, a 2009 California Teacher of the Year from San Diego County, had been selected as one of four finalists nationwide for the prestigious 2009 National Teacher of the Year award.

Kajitani, who was named in November as one of five California Teachers of the Year for 2009, teaches mathematics at Mission Middle School in the Escondido Union (Elementary) School District in San Diego County.

“Alex Kajitani is an amazing teacher and an incredible communicator and motivator,” said O’Connell, who nominated him for the National Teacher of the Year honor. “He is best known for his use of rap music to connect with his students, but his real talent lies in his ability to reach those students who have all but given up on school. Mr. Kajitani employs this cultural medium because of his deep concern about the achievement gap and what it is doing to his students and to all students who are struggling in school.”

Teachers from Colorado, Connecticut, and North Carolina were also named last Wednesday as national finalists.

In his application for California’s program, Kajitani wrote: “As a society, we cannot afford to produce 18-year-olds who have only a sixth grade education. We cannot allow an achievement gap that preys upon our ethnic minorities, especially our Latino and African American students, to persist.”

Since the National Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952, California has had six National Teachers of the Year, including the program’s first National Teacher, Geraldine Jones, who taught in Santa Barbara. Chauncey Veatch, a history and social studies teacher at Coachella Valley High School in Thermal, was the most recent California winner who received the honor in 2002.

Over the past decade, California has had five finalists, including Kajitani, and two have gone on to become the nation’s top teacher. The 2009 winner is expected to be announced in April.

Kajitani earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1995, and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from San Diego State University in 2004.

For more information on Kajitani, his teaching philosophy, and his music, visit The Rappin’ Mathematician Web site: Kajitanican also be reached via e-mail at

For more information about the National Teacher of the Year Program, a project of The Council of Chief State School Officers, please visit



(1) President Obama’s New Education Secretary and the President’s Education Agenda

URL (Education Agenda):

Approximately an hour after taking the oath of office yesterday, President Barrack Obama signed official nomination documents for his Cabinet selections. Later in the afternoon, six of these nominees were confirmed by the Senate in a single voice vote. With this vote, Arne Duncan ( was approved as Secretary of Education.

President Obama’s education agenda is available at An excerpt from the K-12 education agenda appears below. (In the original text, each paragraph begins with “Obama and Biden will,” which has been removed below to reduce redundancy.)

– Reform No Child Left Behind: Reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB’s accountability system so that schools that need improvement are supported, rather than punished.
– Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: Prioritize supporting states that help the most successful charter schools to expand to serve more students.
– Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field… Work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
– Address the Dropout Crisis: Address the dropout crisis by passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school–strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
– Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs–the 21st Century Learning Centers program–to serve one million more children.
– Support College Outreach Programs: Support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
– Support College Credit Initiatives: Create a national “Make College A Reality” initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and build on Obama’s bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.
– Support English Language Learners: Support transitional bilingual education and help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.
– Recruit Teachers: Create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
– Prepare Teachers: Require all schools of education to be accredited. Create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
– Retain Teachers: Expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. Provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
– Reward Teachers: Promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward with a salary increase accomplished educators who serve as mentors to new teachers. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well…


(2) House Economic Stimulus Bill Introduced–Funding for K-12 Education is Included

Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations
URL (Bill): 
URL (Summary):

The House Appropriations Committee sets funding priorities for every discretionary program in the federal budget. Examples include national security, education, health, environmental protection, criminal justice, housing, rural development, national parks, transportation, veterans’ programs, and numerous others. Last Thursday (January 15), the committee, chaired by Rep. Dave Obey (D-WI), released a 13-page summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. Brief excerpts appear below. For the bill’s summary and full text, visit the Web sites above.


In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in.

The package contains targeted efforts in:
– Clean, Efficient, American Energy
– Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology
– Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways
– Education for the 21st Century
– Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs
– Lowering Healthcare Costs
– Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy
– Saving Public Sector Jobs and Protect Vital Services

…This plan targets investments to key areas that will create and preserve good jobs at the same time as it is strengthening the ability of this economy to become more efficient and produce more opportunities for employment…


We will put people to work building 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world.

21st Century Classrooms 
– School Construction…
– Education Technology: $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.

Higher Education…
– Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350.
– College Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.
– Student Loan Limit Increase: Increases limits on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000.
– Student Aid Administration…

K-12 Education: As states begin tackling a projected $350 billion in budget shortfalls these investments will prevent cuts to critical education programs and services. 
– IDEA Special Education…
– Title I Help for Disadvantaged Kids…
– Statewide Data Systems: $250 million for competitive grants to states to design and develop data systems that analyze individual student data to find ways to improve student achievement, providing teachers and administrators with effective tools.
– Education for Homeless Children and Youth…
– Improving Teacher Quality: $300 million, including $200 million for competitive grants to school districts and states to provide financial incentives for teachers and principals who raise student achievement and close the achievement gaps in high-need schools and $100 million for competitive grants to states to address teacher shortages and modernize the teaching workforce.

Early Childhood Development 
– Child Care Development Block Grant: $2 billion to provide child care services for an additional 300,000 children in low-income families while their parents go to work. Today only one out of seven eligible children receives care.
– Head Start: $2.1 billion to provide comprehensive development services to help 110,000 additional children succeed in school. Funds are distributed based on need. Only about half of all eligible preschoolers and less than 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers participate in Head Start…


Related Article:

“Stimulus Plan Aids Education” by Alyson Klein
Source: Education Week – 16 January 2009


(3) Majority of U.S. Teens Feel Prepared for Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Yet Many Lack Mentors

Source: Lemelson-MIT Program – 7 January 2009

American teens are embracing the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with increasingly positive attitudes, yet many lack the necessary encouragement from mentors and role models in these fields, according to this year’s Lemelson-MIT Invention Index. The annual survey, which gauges Americans’ perceptions about invention and innovation, also reveals teens’ altruistic intentions and feelings of preparedness to pursue careers in STEM fields.

The 2009 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index found an overwhelming majority of teens surveyed (85 percent) expressed interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with “curiosity about the way things work” as the driving factor for their interest (44 percent). Of those teens expressing interest in these areas of study, most would be motivated to work in related fields out of altruistic versus materialistic motives: more than half of teens (56 percent) selected “protecting the environment” or “improving our society” as their inspiration. Less than one-fifth (18 percent) said they were motivated to pursue science, technology, engineering or mathematics for the purposes of becoming rich or famous. Not only did the majority of teens convey interest in STEM, but 80 percent also feel their schools have prepared them to pursue a career in these fields, should they choose.

Teens’ optimism about STEM is also evident in their perceptions of people employed in related professions. Contrary to traditional stereotypes of the “geeky scientist,” more than half of teens surveyed (55 percent) believe scientists, engineers and mathematicians are best described as “intelligent” and one-quarter (25 percent) chose “successful.” Only five percent of teens selected “nerdy” as the best description.

“As an educator, it’s exciting to see that teens have such positive perceptions about science, technology, engineering and mathematics; traditionally, many students find these subjects intimidating,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer with the Lemelson-MIT Program, a non-profit organization that recognizes outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

“Increased exposure to STEM through hands-on learning and interaction with teachers and professionals in these fields may be partly responsible for this positive shift in teens’ perceptions,” added Estabrooks. “It may also continue to help shake off any existing stereotypes, making STEM careers seem more accessible.”

Despite interest and feelings of preparedness, nearly two-thirds of teens indicated that they may be discouraged from pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics because they do not know anyone who works in these fields (31 percent) or understand what people in these fields do (28 percent). Estabrooks further states, “If teens feel discouraged from pursuing a career in STEM, society may be deprived of emerging problem solvers and thought leaders to address pressing issues. The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative is one way schools can serve as vehicles to introduce mentors and role models into the process.”

Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The initiative is designed to excite high school students about invention; empower students to problem solve; and encourage an inventive culture in schools and communities. The 2008-2009 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative alone has provided nearly 350 teens with real-world experience and role models in STEM.

“The InvenTeam initiative is just one example of how young people can experience the impact of invention in everyday life. Our hope is that exposing students to mentors in STEM fields will empower and motivate them to seek inventive careers and support their optimism at the high school level,” states Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “As a society, we must continue to cultivate future generations of STEM thinkers and inventors. This is a fundamental investment in the future strength of the U.S. economy.”

Additional survey findings:

* Obsolete Inventions: 37 percent of teens surveyed believe that gas powered cars will most likely be obsolete in five years from now (versus the landline phone, computer mouse and television).
* Presidential Priorities: Recognizing the need for alternative energy sources, 43 percent of teens would like President Obama to focus his attention on the energy crisis, while one-third of teens (33 percent) would like the focus to be on medical discoveries.
* Global Concerns: World poverty, getting a good job and the rise in cancer and other devastating diseases were the top three concerns shared by 73 percent of the teens surveyed (with almost even percentages for each concern).


More Information about the Lemelson-MIT Program and this Survey

The Lemelson-MIT Program recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. The Lemelson Foundation, which funds the program, is a private philanthropy that celebrates and supports inventors and entrepreneurs to strengthen social and economic life.

The 2009 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index teen survey was conducted in the Opinion Research Corporation–teen omnibus conducted November 13-17, 2008, using a phone-based, multiple-choice, format. A nationally representative sample of 501 teens, ages 12-17 years old was used. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level was +/- 4.3% for the entire sample.