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May 31, 2006

Open letter about Math Coordinator position at MMSD


Dear Members of the School Board, dear Superintendent Rainwater,

We are writing to strongly urge that the new Coordinator of Mathematics have the depth of knowledge of mathematics that we believe is essential for the position. While we are obviously concerned about the preparation of students entering the University, our concerns are much broader than that. The new Coordinator must have a high level of understanding of both mathematical content and pedagogy to independently navigate through the controversies that surround the established standards and published curricula. These "navigational skills" are essential if we are to achieve a program for the Madison school system that meets the needs and aspirations of all the students in the system.

The posted criteria do not give us confidence that the new coordinator will have the required depth of knowledge. Specifically, we recommend adding the following to the list of knowledge and experience that the new Coordinator should have:

  • Subject knowledge equivalent to a strong Bachelor's degree in mathematics.

    The posted criteria call for a Master's degree, but there is no requirement specific to the subject area. Knowledge at the level of a Bachelor's degree seems to us to be a minimum requirement.

  • Teaching experience at the highest level in the high school curriculum.

    The posted criteria call for teaching experience in mathematics, but do not specify the level. Experience at the highest level seems essential if the individual is to have the necessary overview of the entire curriculum.

We recognize that the school system faces many challenges, but we do not believe that we are being self-serving or even controversial in asserting that a high quality mathematics curriculum must be one of the top priorities for the system. The new Coordinator must be fully equipped with the essential skills and knowledge if that priority is to be met.


Alejandro Adem
Sigurd Angenent
Richard Askey
Eric Bach
Lev Borisov
Richard Brualdi
Andrei Caldararu
David Camacho
Serguei Denissov
Mikhail Feldman
Simon Hellerstein
Shi Jin
Alexander Kiselev
James Kuelbs
Steffen Lempp
Shirin Malekpour
Eugenia Malitsky
Gloria Mari-Beffa
Gabi Meyer
Paul Milewski
Julie Mitchell
Yong-Geun Oh
Marshall Osborn
Seymour Parter
Paul Rabinowitz
Diane Rivard
Joel Robbin
Jean-Pierre Rosay
James Rossmanith
Hans Schneider
Andreas Seeger
Timo Seppalainen
Dietrich Uhlenbrock
Stephen Wainger
Tonghai Yang

Department of Mathematics
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Posted by Steffen Lempp at May 31, 2006 4:09 PM
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