I am a high school science teacher. My ability to teach science is based to some extent on how much math kids know when they come to me. I also need kids who can read and analyze word problems. I think this is important work because I believe that we need to create a population with the ability to read and analyze complex issues. If we don't we risk creating an electorate that believes that Saddam Hussein attacked the World Trade Center.
Last week my wife went to a staff development day on math for 3rd grade teachers. The word problem was:
If Jane has 24 feet of fence and she wants to build an enclosure for her dogs what are the dimensions of a rectangle she can build with the largest amount of square feet.
The teachers not only could not do this problem, but when my wife said that two sides had to add up to 12 they couldn't follow why that was true. This means that these teachers are not smart enough to teach 3rd grade students. The reason they are not smart enough is that the education schools allowed them through. How can some one get a college degree and not be able to solve this problem by some method. My method might be very sophisticate. But these teachers should have some approach to solving this problem.
The nice thing about a depression is that it gives us the opportunity to recruit smart people to education. It is vital that we do this. We can not have kids coming through elementary school without learning any math or science. We can not afford this.