SEED Mag’s Business Math Homework

28 09 2006

A billionaire ex-mathematician believes he has a simple formula for improving math education and making America more competitive.
by Joshua Roebke
September 19, 2006

Math for America started over a game of poker. . . .When he looked around the room, it struck him that the assembled brainpower and capital could be used for greater good. Chatting with a few other former mathemticians, Simons put forth an idea to improve the state of math education in America. It was a notion he’d unsuccessfully tried to publish as a New York Times editorial a few years before:
. . .Even the best curriculum in the world, the reasoning goes, isn’t going to inspire students if unqualified individuals are teaching them. . .

This past week, I accompanied Simons and a few MfA representatives to a meeting of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, which was created by the President shortly after announcing the Competitiveness Initiative. In one of MIT’s crisp new buildings, the panel heard testimony on a variety of issues that will help them write a report on math education that they are to present to Congress in January. . .

Though neither his name, nor his foundation’s, is likely to be on the final piece of legislation that might be approved in the Senate, he didn’t seem to give it a thought.

His insouciance reminded me of something his friend Shelly Wenig had said: “Here’s a guy with the privilege of doing anything he wants, and he chooses to do the tough one.”

Seed’s interview with James Simons is here.

A cocky snook salute to Dr. Free-Ride’s blog for the links.



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