Temperature, Mountains Wave Clouds, and Math Education in Seattle

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What a difference a day makes. Today was splendid, nearly no clouds, and temperatures reaching the 70s in Puget Sound land and the 80s near Portland (see map above for 5 PM, Monday). In contrast, yesterday was far cooler from Seattle northward. The big reason...an area of clouds produced by mountain waves forced by the Olympics (see satellite picture). In fact, yesterday had spectacular mountain wave cloud downstream of not only the Olympics..but major volcanoes like Mt. Rainier. John Sahr of the UW sent me a wonderful picture of the Rainier wave clouds taken from the east side at Manastash Ridge Observatory, south and west of Ellensburg at about 4000'.

In the satellite picture you can actually see two types of mountain wave clouds. The ones downstream of the Olympics are high in the atmosphere...these are called vertically propagating wave clouds. If look carefully you will see lines of regularly spaced cloud east of the north Cascades..there are trapped lee wave clouds...and are located much lower in the atmosphere. If you want to learn more about these mountain waves, check out my book...I have a whole section on them.

The good weather will hold up one more day...although tomorrow will probably be a few degrees cooler. As shown in the forecast model output below for 8 AM on Wednesday...an energetic cold front will be crossing the area at that time...resulting in the temps on Wed dropping into the 50s, with a few showers as well (nothing serious).
Math Education: Seattle School District is poised to make a big mistake

Finally, a little editorial. Some of you may know that I feel strongly that math education in our state has declined during the past decade or so. Students are coming to the UW without basic competency in math and some wanting to major in atmospheric sciences can't do so because their math background is so poor. Anyway, the Seattle School Board is on the verge of making a huge error in the selection of high school math textbooks...picking the extremely poor "Discovering" Algebra, Discovering Geometry Series by Key Curriculum, which are weak fuzzy/reform math texts. This curricula was found to be “mathematically unsound” by the Washington State Board of Education consultants, and has been removed from the State’s Recommended High School Programs List. Definitions, computational algorithms, and formulas are vaguely stated if they are stated at all. The program does not include enough practice for mastery. Lots of use of calculators. Local and national mathematicians have expressed their written concerns about the soundness of these programs.

The selection was made by the district's math curriculum committee. In contrast, the second place Prentice Hall program, which was favored by a minority of the committee (5 to 8 in committee vote), provides a balanced and content-rich resource for teachers, students, and parents to collaboratively support success. Prentice Hall teaches authentic algebra as recommended by the National Math Advisory Panel and does not include excessive calculator exercises.

The district developed a textbook review process which included no mathematicians and that conflicts with state recommendations and key ideas presented by the National Math Advisory Panel. This is the same process which selected the current elementary and middle school programs, and they have not helped increase student achievement or reduce the achievement gap.

This will be an important vote even if your children are currently in elementary school. You can make a difference by writing a short message to school board directors asking them to reject the district’s program recommendation. FINAL VOTE will be on April 22nd.

School Board Directors:
Michael DeBell - michael.debell@seattleschools.org
Sherry Carr - sherry.carr@seattleschools.org
Harium Martin-Morris - harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org
Peter Maier - peter.maier@seattleschools.org
Cheryl Chow - cheryl.chow@seattleschools.org
Steve Sundquist - steve.sundquist@seattleschools.org
Mary Bass - mary.bass@seattleschools.org

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