Bringing the Common Core State Mathematics Standards to Life

Hung-Hsi Wu, via Richard Askey:

Many sets of state and national mathematics stan- dards have come and gone in the past two decades. The Common Core State Mathematics Standards (CCSMS), which were released in June of 2010,*have been adopted by almost all states and will be phased in across the nation in 2014. Will this be another forgettable stan- dards document like the overwhelming majority of the others?
Perhaps. But unlike the others, it will be a travesty if this one is forgotten. The main difference between these standards and most of the others is that the CCSMS are mathematically very sound overall. They could serve–at long last–as the foundation for creating proper school mathematics textbooks and dramatically better teacher preparation.
Before the CCSMS came along, America long resisted the idea of commonality of standards and curriculum–but it did not resist such commonality in actual classrooms. Despite some politicians’ rhetoric extolling the virtues of local control, there has been a de facto national mathematics curriculum for decades: the curriculum defined by the school mathematics textbooks. There are several widely used textbooks, but mathe- matically they are very much alike. Let’s call this de facto math- ematics curriculum Textbook School Mathematics (TSM).1