COMET • Vol. 9, No. 16 – 21 May 2008


Governor Schwarzenegger Releases Revised 2008-2009 State Budget Plan

Sources: Office of the Governor; California Department of Education; Legislative Analyst’s Office
URL (Gov.):
URL (K-12 Education):

On Wednesday, May 14, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted his revised 2008-09 state budget plan to the legislature. It is a budget that includes a combination of some necessary cuts, some new revenues and some creative solutions to address California’s $17.2 billion budget problem. It fully funds education under Proposition 98, does not raise taxes and establishes a rainy day fund to address California’s chronic budget problem.

“As everyone knows we are facing an extremely difficult budget year,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “With the subprime mortgage crisis, fewer capital gains and the stalled national economy, our revenues have flattened out. And because of our dysfunctional budget system, spending goes up no matter what. On top of that, we don’t have a rainy-day fund to soften the blow in down years like this one.”

The Governor’s May Revise fully funds education under Proposition 98–increasing funding to K-14 education over the current year budget by almost $200 million. It proposes $1.8 billion in additional General Fund dollars for K-12 education and community colleges to fully fund the minimum Proposition 98 Guarantee in 2008-09. Total Proposition 98 K-12 per pupil funding will increase more than $100, from $8,509 in 2007-08 to $8,610 in 2008-09.

Difficult cuts are necessary to solve the budget problem, which was approximately $14.5 billion in January and now has grown to $17.2 billion. It would stand at over $24 billion if the Governor and legislature had not made mid-year cuts in February. Because the size of the budget problem has grown, difficult cuts, like those proposed by the Governor in January are still necessary.

Historically the state spends all the money it takes in during years of above average revenue growth, leading to unsustainable spending levels and budget deficits when revenues return to, or fall below, average levels. The Governor has proposed a reform plan that will bring stability to the budget system by establishing a rainy-day fund and by giving the Legislature authority to make mid-year cuts more swiftly.

To address the current deficit and jump-start budget reform, the Governor’s revised budget proposal seeks to get more value out of an underperforming state asset–the California Lottery, which has been outperformed by the national average for years. The Governor’s plan calls for the modernization of the Lottery to boost performance and returns on this asset. With this modernization, the state will be able to raise cash upfront by selling future lottery revenues with no risk to the state.

This cash, estimated at $5 billion in 2008-09 and $15 billion overall through 2011, will in turn be used to establish the rainy-day fund. It’s this rainy-day fund that will protect all of California’s priorities, so that the state is never again subjected to the feast-or-famine budget cycle that threatens funding to education, law enforcement, human services and other programs.

The Governor’s proposal also acknowledges that it is fiscally responsible to put in place a last resort safety net, so he is proposing something modeled after former Governor George Deukmejian’s sales tax trigger. If the Lottery proposal is not approved by voters in November, a trigger would go off that would temporarily raise the sales tax by one cent. The sales tax triggers off when the rainy day fund is full or by 2010, whichever occurs first. When the economy recovers and the rainy day fund is full, taxpayers would receive rebates until the entirety of the sales tax increase is paid back in full. This safety net would be a last resort, and the Governor intends to never have to use it.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued the following statement regarding Governor Schwarzenegger’s May Budget Revision:

“Teachers, parents, administrators, and paraeducators across our state have joined together over the last four months to illustrate what a devastating impact the cuts proposed in January would have had on our schools. I think it’s clear the Governor has heard the outcry from the education community over his initial budget proposals.

“I welcome his new proposal and retreat from suspending Proposition 98. But to say that education is fully funded in this budget is an overstatement.

“Schools still must absorb the 10 percent cut made to specific programs like class size reduction, counselors, and targeted remediation programs. These cuts remain in [the current] proposal and have real-world impact on our students. Many teachers and other essential school staff will still face layoffs, classroom sizes are likely to increase, and there is no cost-of-living increase at a time when the cost of gas, food, and other school essentials is increasing. With the price of gas alone increasing by nearly $1 a gallon over the last year, the failure to fund a cost-of-living adjustment amounts to a serious budget cut in practical terms.

“I realize the Governor has a lot of tough decisions to make, and I commend him for taking the difficult but necessary step of recognizing that we need to raise more revenue. I am concerned, however, about a proposal that relies so heavily on the Lottery alone to fund schools. This scheme does not address the long-term funding needs of our schools. Instead, it gambles on our students’ future by providing one-time funds for schools with a multi-year repayment plan.

“California is already near the bottom in terms of per-pupil spending. The Governor’s budget revision still falls short of what schools need now, and doesn’t begin to address what is needed in the long term. I continue to argue that we are long overdue for a conversation about how to adequately and effectively fund public education in a way that invests in California’s future.

“I will continue to work with the legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger to find a budget compromise that meets the needs of our students and all Californians.”

For more information on the Governor’s May Revise, go to or  A useful summary page is available at and revised budget detail for K-12 is available at


A detailed summary of the Governor’s May 2008-09 Budget Revision by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) is available at  A brief article based on the LAO report is available at (“Governor’s Lottery Plan Could Hurt School Funding, Analyst Says”)




(1) “Critical Issues in Education Workshop: Teaching and Learning Algebra”–Session Abstracts and Videos

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)

For over two decades, the teaching and learning of algebra has been a focus of mathematics education at the precollege level. This workshop, “Critical Issues in Education Workshop: Teaching and Learning Algebra,” was held at MSRI on May 14-16 and examined issues in algebra education at two critical points in the continuum from elementary school to undergraduate studies: at the transitions from arithmetic to algebra and from high school to university. In addition, the workshop involved participants in discussions about various ways to structure an algebra curriculum across the entire K-12 curriculum. Workshop organizers included Al Cuoco, Chair, (Center for Mathematics Education), Deborah Ball (University of Michigan), Hyman Bass (University of Michigan), Herb Clemens (The Ohio State University), James Fey (University of Maryland), Megan Franke (UCLA), Roger Howe (Yale University), Alan Schoenfeld (UC Berkeley), and Ed Silver (University of Michigan).

The workshop design was guided by three framing questions:

Question 1: What are some organizing principles around which one can create a coherent pre-college algebra program?

Question 2: What is known about effective ways for students to make the transition from arithmetic to algebra?

Question 3: What algebraic understandings are essential for success in beginning collegiate mathematics?

The audience for the workshop included mathematicians, mathematics educators, classroom teachers, and education researchers concerned with improving the teaching and learning of algebra across the grades. Sessions featured direct experience with several curricular approaches to algebra, as well as reports from researchers, educators, and members of national committees charged with finding ways to increase student achievement in algebra.

A detailed workshop schedule with abstracts is available at

Archived videos of a number of the sessions are available at


(2) Devlin’s Angle: “Lockhart’s Lament” and Column Responses

Source:  MAA (Mathematical Association of America) Online – March 2008
URL (March):
URL (Lockhart’s Lament):
URL (May):

From the March 2008 edition of “Devlin’s Angle” by Keith Devlin: “This month’s column is devoted to an article called A Mathematician’s Lament, written by Paul Lockhart in 2002. Paul is a mathematics teacher at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York. His article has been circulating through parts of the mathematics and math ed communities ever since, but he never published it. I came across it by accident a few months ago, and decided at once I wanted to give it wider exposure. I contacted Paul, and he agreed to have me publish his ‘lament’ on MAA Online. It is, quite frankly, one of the best critiques of current K-12 mathematics education I have ever seen. Written by a first-class research mathematician who elected to devote his teaching career to K-12 education.

“Paul became interested in mathematics when he was about 14 (outside of the school math class, he points out) and read voraciously, becoming especially interested in analytic number theory. He dropped out of college after one semester to devote himself to math, supporting himself by working as a computer programmer and as an elementary school teacher. Eventually he started working with Ernst Strauss at UCLA, and the two published a few papers together. Strauss introduced him to Paul Erdos, and they somehow arranged it so that he became a graduate student there. He ended up getting a Ph.D. from Columbia in 1990, and went on to be a fellow at MSRI and an assistant professor at Brown. He also taught at UC Santa Cruz. His main research interests were, and are, automorphic forms and Diophantine geometry.

“After several years teaching university mathematics, Paul eventually tired of it and decided he wanted to get back to teaching children. He secured a position at Saint Ann’s School, where he says ‘I have happily been subversively teaching mathematics (the real thing) since 2000.’

“He teaches all grade levels at Saint Ann’s (K-12), and says he is especially interested in bringing a mathematician’s point of view to very young children. ‘I want them to understand that there is a playground in their minds and that that is where mathematics happens. So far I have met with tremendous enthusiasm among the parents and kids, less so among the mid-level administrators,’ he wrote in an email to me. Now where have I heard that kind of thing before? But enough of my words. Read Paul’s dynamite essay. It’s a 25-page PDF file.” [See]


From the May 2008 edition of “Devlin’s Angle” entitled, “Lockart’s Lament: The Sequel”: “We met Lockhart in my March column, which was devoted to publication, for the first time, of an essay he had written back in 2002. In that essay, Lockhart argued for teaching that awakened and stimulated students’ natural curiosity… As I had suspected (and hoped), the appearance of Paul’s essay generated a massive response, some of it coming to me, the bulk going directly to Paul himself. The remainder of this month’s column is devoted to a summary of some of the emails we received, with some editorial comment from me and a lengthy response by Paul.” Visit to read the entire column.


(3) Mathematics Resources Available in Spanish

Source: TODOS–Mathematics for All

The mission of TODOS: Mathematics for ALL is to advocate for an equitable and high quality mathematics education for all students, in particular Latino/Hispanic students, by increasing the equity awareness of educators and their ability to foster students’ proficiency in rigorous and coherent mathematics.

Visit for a collection of mathematics resources, many available in Spanish.


(4) Project-Based Competition for High School Math Students

Source: Yat-Sun Poon (, UC Riverside, via Susie Hakansson

[Message from Yat-Sun Poon] “This year, I am helping to run a project-based math competition. The official organizer is a math research institute in China. I would like to encourage high school math teachers to participate. This is an opportunity for students to investigate mathematics, instead of sitting through speed tests.”

For details, please visit  Email for more information.




(1) Educators are Encouraged to Register Now for U.S. Department of Education Summer Workshops


Teachers and other educators are encouraged to register now to attend one of the U.S. Department of Education’s summer workshops, where teachers share successful strategies to raise student achievement. Registration and information on the free workshops being held in 12 U.S. cities are available at

“Creative teachers across America are using innovative strategies to inspire students to achieve their potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. “Our workshops give educators a chance to share best practices and learn from those who are getting great results in the classroom.”

This year the Education Department workshops will be co-hosted by the United States Mint, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Park Service (NPS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), and Department of Energy (DOE).

Each workshop will include numerous breakout sessions featuring effective teachers and practitioners sharing strategies that have been successful in their classrooms, schools and districts.

Part of the Department’s Teacher-to-Teacher (T2T) Initiative, the free summer workshops were first offered in 2004 and, since then, more than 20,000 educators have participated in the workshops, which have been held in more than 50 cities across the country. T2T aims to help teachers improve student achievement by supporting their professional development and keeping them informed about the latest strategies and research that helps students meet high standards.

Workshop dates, locations, subjects covered, and co-hosts can be found on


(2) Deborah Ball and Hyman Bass to speak at SDSU

Source: Lisa Clement Lamb

On June 5 and June 6, San Diego State University’s Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE) and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation will co-sponsor two talks by Distinguished Lecturers Deborah Ball and Hyman Bass. Times, titles, abstracts, and locations are shown below. See for additional details for the June 5 lecture, and visit for information regarding the June 6 lecture. (Please RSVP to Karen Foehl,

(a) “Improving U.S. Mathematics Education: History, Myths, and Strategies”
Deborah Ball and Hyman Bass
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Reception: 3:45 – 4:30 p.m., Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Arts and Letters (AL) 201, San Diego State University

The National Mathematics Panel has just issued a report responding to the charge: What is known about the teaching and learning of mathematics up to algebra that would enable more children to be successful in algebra?  The report suggests that, although we have made substantial progress in some domains, we still have a long way to go in building the knowledge base we need to improve the quality of instruction and students’ learning. This report is one more entry into several decades of critique and aspiration regarding the quality and level of mathematics learning of our nation’s youth.  In this session we will provide an overview of the issues that have framed both the problems and efforts to address them.  We will highlight patterns in that history that have impeded progress, identify key strategies for significant improvement, and discuss what it would take to deploy them.

(b) “Proving the Impossible”
Hyman Bass and Deborah Ball
Friday, June 6, 2008
Reception: 9:15 – 10:00 a.m., Lecture: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Arts and Letters (AL) 101, San Diego State University

Students’ work on an impossibility proof will be used to investigate three features of helping students learn to prove mathematical claims: task design, the creation of a social and intellectual environment, and the development of specialized language.