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Jordan SD Rips Out “Unsolvable” Math Problems

It appears Jordan School District may have lied to teachers telling them to pull problems out of student math books that were unsolvable. Early this week, 9th grade teachers using the homegrown Secondary Math 1 book that we exposed last week (article 1)(article 2) for having propagandizing problems in them, told students they needed to rip out 12 pages from their books and pass them forward to the teacher to be shredded because some problems in the book were unsolvable. One quick thinking teen stuffed the pages in his/her backpack and took them home and the parent sent them to me.

Now I haven’t attempted to work these problems to see if any are unsolvable, but don’t you think if that was the case, teachers would have just had students cross out a handful of problems instead of tearing out pages that actually contained legitimate problems on them?

So what’s on these pages you ask… Some of them contain clear propaganda. Others appear to have been axed for pretty minor infractions such as one page where the only thing I see is a war game scenario of Battleship and you have to plot enemy shipping lanes (ie. equations) on a graph and find the intersections where you lay your mines where they are likely to find an enemy ship. Probably overboard to rip that out.

However, try this one on for size.

 14. A polling organization reports that 52% of registered voters preferred candidate W. The polling technique used has a margin of error of 3%. (The results are considered to be accurate within a range of 3% on either side of the reported figure.)
a. What are the upper and lower boundaries for the actual percent of voters who support candidate W?
b. Represent the upper and lower boundaries using an absolute-value equation.
c. Is it possible that candidate W is not actually preferred by the majority of voters? Explain.

A perfect opening for a teacher to say, “interestingly, candidate “Dubya” did become president with a minority of votes because of the flawed electoral system in our country.”

They ripped out a pretty fun looking “Ohio Jones” problem (Indiana Jones’ lesser-known younger brother) for no apparent reason unless it really was unsolvable, but again, why not just cross it out? It ends with “Follow these words and the temple will reveal its secrets to you. Fail, and you will fall to your doom.” Pretty harmless considering the context and parallel to Indiana Jones movies. The other side of this page was straight math problems.

There is a problem set on another page to determine if relationships are functions. One was “The national debt with respect to time.” I think that should be a required problem for every student at every grade level.

Page 118 is a full page fraudulent scheme math problem where you have to calculate how much money you’ll get back at the end of each week of sending out letters and getting friends to write letters requesting money. The thing about this problem is one of the questions says, “Ploys like this are illegal. Can you see why? (Explain)”  I actually don’t mind this problem too much because it does point out that it’s illegal and helps children to understand why. Though, in today’s society, I suppose this could fill some young entrepreneurial mind with an idea… :)

Here’s one on page 125 that is a bad idea:

Bingham Rumors
At Bingham High, Savannah, a 10th grader, decides to start a rumor. On the first day of school, she tells 3 students the rumor and gives them instructions to repeat the rumor (and instructions) to 3 more students the next day, etc.
a. Create a table (Days, Students )
b. Create a graph
c. Is the function discrete or continuous?
d. Write the domain and range using appropriate notation.
e. Why is the equation y = 3x?
f. If each student follows these instructions, how many students will hear the rumor on day 6? On what day will all 2400 students hear or rehear the rumor?

No need to give students reason to try this experiment and see how far and fast a rumor will spread.

Page 156

22. Strapped for cash, you decide to borrow money from a local crime lord. This turns out to be yet another instance of poor judgment on your part. At 22% interest per year, how much will you owe on a loan of %5,000 after one year? What about after three years?

Borrowing from a crime lord? Creating a home grown math textbook was yet another instance of poor judgment on Jordan and Granite School District’s parts.

Page 165 contains a problem labeled “Medicine” where you are an Olympic athlete who is considering taking cold medicine and you have to calculate the half-life of it to make sure it’s out of your system before drug testing at a certain time. They could have just renamed this one “How to pass a drug test.”

Page 181

Population and Food Supply
(from illustrativemathematics.org)
The population of a country is initially 2 million people and is increasing at 4% per year. The country’s annual food supply is adequate for 4 million people (now) and is increasing at a constant rate adequate for an additional 0.5 million people per year.
1. Based on these assumptions, in approximately what year will this country first experience shortages of food?
2. If the country doubled its initial food supply and maintained a constant rate of increase in the supply adequate for an additional 0.5 million people per year, would shortages still occur? In approximately which year?
3. If the country doubled the rate at which its food supply increases, in addition to doubling its initial food supply, would shortages still occur?

Gee, I wonder what kind of discussions this would generate???

Granite School District should follow suit and also pull these page.

If you’ve never seen Radical Math (http://www.radicalmath.org/), it’s social justice propaganda mixed into math problems just like these.

Where did these problems come from? How did they get in children’s textbooks? Who reviewed these problems and gave the OK? What can we expect in the future?

Not all cost savings are worth the savings as Jordan and Granite have both clearly shown.

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