Letter to NCTM Membership
from Lee V. Stiff, President
April 24, 2000

Dear NCTM member,

At our recent Annual Meeting in Chicago, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics was unveiled in an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. The Council's new initiative to improve mathematics education for all children was released before a standing-room-only press conference on Wednesday morning, 12 April 2000. That evening, President Glenda Lappan released the updated Standards to NCTM's largest-ever annual meeting. It is clear that the vision of high-quality mathematics for all children is alive and well.

With success comes the need to heighten attention to our key messages. News stories in such places as USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, US News and World Report, and a raft of television news shows revealed that many of our positions continue to be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Several recent news accounts have not accurately reported that we have always believed in the importance of basics, or that we are redefining basics for tomorrow. Our stronger, bolder vision of basics recognizes that number crunching is not enough, that students must understand the underlying concepts of the mathematics they are taught.

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics is a blueprint for building curricula that are coherent across the grades, focused on high-quality mathematics, and supportive of excellence in the teaching and learning of mathematics. When implemented, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics will allow students to learn mathematics with understanding, acquire in-depth knowledge of more and better mathematics, and develop reasoning and communication skills to become resourceful and flexible problem solvers.

Fifteen years ago, few would have imagined the rapid changes in our society that have transformed it from an industry-based economy into a knowledge-based one. Today, mathematics teachers must prepare all students for a future ... they can't even imagine. This means that students need to be resourceful and flexible problem solvers who can effectively apply the mathematical knowledge they possess. This means that students must be able to represent mathematical knowledge in a variety of ways to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy. This means that all students must have access to high-quality mathematics and high-quality mathematics instruction.

I want to thank Glenda Lappan and Joan Ferrini-Mundy for their leadership over the past three years in ensuring the successful development and launch of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. Those of you who were members of NCTM as of 1 April 2000 can look forward to receiving your complimentary copy of the document in the coming weeks. I want to thank Enrique Galindo for his leadership in the development of the E-Standards. Those of you who have access to the web can enjoy the E-Standards right now at standards.nctm.org.

As president of NCTM, I will champion the vision of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics in every corner of the United States and Canada. The principles on which our vision of high-quality mathematics is grounded shall be echoed across the land. The standards in which our vision has taken root shall be cultivated with care. I simply ask that you join me in helping NCTM lead the way ... in promoting higher standards for our students and higher standards for ourselves.

(Reprinted with Permission)   

Copyright © 1997 COMPASS - All rights reserved

Last Revision: 11/07/05