Not only is the progression from arithmetic manipulation of fractions to Algebra tenuous, but neither of the assumptions underlying the value of teaching fractions or Algebra are ever questioned. The President’s Math Panel, like most of the math education community maintains a Kabbalah-like belief in an antiquated scope and sequence. Such curricular superstition fuels a multigenerational feud in which educators fight over who has the best trick for forcing kids to learn something useless, irrelevant or unpleasant.
The Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
does not dispute that teachers spend lots of time teaching fractions. The report merely urges that teachers do even more of the same while hoping for a different result. A definition of insanity comes to mind.
I wonder if Math teachers are so unwilling to question the supremacy of algebra because they are worried that they will lose market share in the high school curriculum and lose sections at summer school.