After experiencing her first veto override in seven years as Governor, Susana Martinez has gone into the political equivalent of what clinicians call a “psychotic break.” Perfectly innocuous, widely to unanimously supported bills have been nixed in recent days without explanation, in actions truly without logical thought, rationality or purpose.
I’m not saying the Governor is crazy. I’m not licensed to make such psychological assessments. I’m only a K-12 schoolteacher by trade, and can only report, with professional bona fides, that vetoing Senate Bill 134 is very dumb, as well as spitefully hurtful in a way that has me wondering how slowly the Governor pulls the wings off the flies.
SB 134 addresses the antiquated gap in what constitutes “Math” or “Science” in terms of high school credit in New Mexico. Sponsored by Democrats Sen. Candelaria and Rep. Sariñana, the bill would allow a computer science class to count as one of the required math or science credits for graduation. Reflecting a time decades ago when computer programming and such was more arcane than one of the biggest employment sectors anywhere, computer science classes have only counted toward elective credits. Many students passionate in learning more about computer science haven’t had time in their schedules to include computer science as an elective alongside a required math and science class.
There’s also the fact that computer science IS the applied math/science of today, or at least one very important strain of what we consider “math” and/or “science.” Unless you’re a New Mexico public school or Governor Martinez.
To give some context into just how stupid the Governor’s veto of SB 134 is, let’s take a look at the 2016-2017 “STARS Report,” the guiding document in assigning course codes and descriptions allowed in the State.
Joining myriad forms of Algebra (I, II, Linear, Abstract, etc.), Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus and such in the list of approved courses are the following (all the below directly quoted):
- Mathematics – Independent Study – Grades 9 – 12 – This course is higher than the level of Algebra II. Course, often conducted with instructors as mentors, enables students to explore mathematics topics of interest. These courses may be offered in conjunction with other rigorous math courses, or may serve as an opportunity to explore a topic of special interest. They may also serve as an opportunity to study for AP exams if the school does not offer specific courses for that endeavor.
- SREB Math Ready 9 – 12 – This Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB) course emphasizes an understanding of math concepts, as opposed to memorizing facts. Math Ready students learn the context behind procedures and come to understand the “whys” of using certain formulas or methods to solve a problem. By engaging students in real-world applications, this course develops critical thinking skills that students will use in college and careers.
- Probability and Statistics – Recommended for Grades 9 – 12 – This course aligns to the Probability and Statistics standards. Students are to apply and expand their understanding of Probability and Statistics in this course. The four critical areas include: (1) Interpreting categorical and quantitative data by: summarizing, representing, and interpreting data on a single count, measurement, two categorical or quantitative variables or linear models; (2) Making inferences and justifying conclusions by understanding and evaluating random processes underlying statistical experiments and making inferences and justifying conclusions from sample surveys, experiments and observations studies; (3) Applying conditional probability and the rules of probability by understanding independence and conditional probability and interpreting data and using the rules of probability to compute probabilities of compound events; (4) Applying probability to make decisions by calculating expected values and using them to solve problems and using probability to evaluate outcomes of decisions. The Standards for Mathematical Practice apply throughout this course and, together with the content standards, prescribe mathematics as a coherent, useful, and logical subject that makes sense of problem situations.
- Fractal Mathematics – Grades 9 – 12 – The mastery of the content of the course will provide you with the mathematical tools to identify Fractal Geometry in the environment. Fractal Math skills have practical applications in a multitude of STEM fields particularly mathematics in nature and in computer design and technology. The topics of the course will follow the New Mexico Content Standards for mathematics and will include work with algebra, geometry, functions, and writing and solving algebraic expressions for all levels of fractal Mathematics. Students will explore a variety of types of fractal mathematics including Geometric, Algebraic, Natural, Organic, and much more. The course will culminate in a final project during which students will design and develop fractals on their own using the lessons learned throughout the course. We hope that you will find the course interesting, challenging, and perhaps at times fun as you explore and master the mathematics of Fractal Geometry.
All the courses above count as one of the required four math credits. And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with any of the above. I only mention them to point out: A. That applied topics like statistics and fractals already exist; B. How dumb it is that anything directly related to computers can be found in the list of math courses except for the following:
- IB Mathematics and Computing – SL – Grades 9 – 12 – Course prepares students to take the International Baccalaureate Mathematics and Computing exam at the Subsidiary level. Designed to give students a working knowledge of a high level programming language developed in the context of sound mathematical training, course topics include operations and properties of number sets; trigonometric functions, equations, and graphs; algebra and coordinate geometry, including simultaneous linear equations, binomial theorem, and polynomial and quadratic functions and equations; calculus, including bilinear, exponential and logarithmic functions; vectors and matrices; and numerical analysis. The courses also contain components on computer problem solving and programming. Topics regarding computer hardware, software, modes of operation, and data types and structures.
Ohhhhhhh, so if you’re in an IB (International Baccalaureate) program you can get math credit for computing, but those not in IB programs are, to use a coding language-type acronym: SOL.
SB 134 sought to correct this antiquated, unfair situation, and has been supported by everyone with a brain and/or pulse, at least those not currently experiencing a political psychotic break.
One wonders if, months or years from now the good Governor will reflect back on actions such as her veto of SB 134 with any regret or shame. My unlicensed, completely lay person, opinion is that she will simply have no recollection of the act whatsoever, like a perpetrator of violence who does so during a “black-out” of irrational and harmful rage.
And we, as citizens of New Mexico, get to play the other roles (denier, enabler, etc.) in this family/state of extreme dysfunction.