To the Editor:

Re “Florida’s Issue With Math Books Has Zero to Do With Numbers” (front page, April 23):

Gov. Ron DeSantis is neither a mathematician nor a mathematics educator. Mathematics learning is not only about “getting the right answer,” as Mr. DeSantis claimed. It is about developing reasoning strategies for solving problems. It is about, among other things, developing curiosity, conjecturing, making assertions and defending them, following and understanding others’ ways of thinking, and, yes, making errors and being able to build from them to good solutions.

For far too long, mathematics has been perceived and taught in ways that undercut both the discipline and its learners. We have edged many students out of the subject and given the remainder a narrow notion of mathematics and, often, bad attitudes about themselves and others.

As someone who has taught students, written mathematics textbooks and taught mathematics teachers, I applaud the current effort to integrate social and emotional learning goals. In today’s world we need all the support we can get to learn to understand and care about ourselves and others.

Rheta Rubenstein
Ridgefield, Wash.
The writer is professor emerita of mathematics at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

To the Editor:

I am a retired New York State school superintendent and consider myself liberal on most social and educational issues. I was deeply disturbed by this article and the examples from various math texts it highlighted. Teaching math means teaching math. I understand the ideas behind social-emotional learning content and largely agree that it belongs in the broad curriculum. But not in math textbooks.

Any good teacher can and should assist their students in their emotional development, even while teaching math. But formalizing that in a textbook makes no sense to me. While I disagree with most of what Gov. Ron DeSantis stands for, I find myself on his side in this instance. Fair warning to the educational establishment.

James B. Van Hoven
Essex, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I can’t believe that this is an issue anywhere. Social-emotional learning and support are crucial to education. Giving students support when a concept or skill is difficult is neither political nor cultural. It’s called encouragement.

Including the biography of an accomplished African American mathematician in a high school math book should not be considered controversial in the U.S.A. in the 21st century.

Margaret Costigan
Ruckersville, Va.

To the Editor:

I’m a political progressive but I wouldn’t have approved the math/social-emotional learning textbooks either. Consider the required self-rating in which a student must respond to the statement “I persevere when something is challenging.”

If the honest response would be option 1, “I struggle with this,” would the child feel safe revealing that to a teacher? Would the child think that they were confessing to laziness? Would the child try to avoid the inevitable intervention? And how would a math teacher be qualified to determine why a student might fail to persevere and offer a remedy?

What if the child’s trouble arose from parental abuse or rejection, a death in the family, or victimization by classmates or neighbors? Should anyone but a trained psychologist be addressing those possibilities?

Claudia Miriam Reed
McMinnville, Ore.

To the Editor:

Re “The Arsenal of Democracy Once Again,” by Paul Krugman (column, April 29):

Mr. Krugman argues that just as Britain, with the aid of American armaments through the Lend-Lease Act, set the stage for Germany’s defeat in World War II, Ukraine can defeat Russia.

Britain and Germany in 1940, however, were much closer in military strength than Russia and Ukraine are today. And Germany might have eventually defeated Britain if it had not divided its armed forces by attacking the Soviet Union and if America had not entered the war in 1941.

The bottom line is that time is on Russia’s side, and it will eventually defeat Ukraine unless America enters the war.

I’m not arguing that America should enter this war. Only that we need to be honest with ourselves. Russia will win. It’s inevitable. These are vastly unequal military powers. Ironically, by providing only some military equipment (not even our most lethal), we are just prolonging the inevitable, thus in the long run enabling more death and destruction in Ukraine.

Steven Roth
Great Neck, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “As Masks Drop, Delight, Dread and Confusion” (front page, April 20):

I am glad that a court has struck down the C.D.C. requirement for masks on planes, and I intend to wear one as much as possible on flights into an indefinite future.

A contradiction? Consider that there would likely be no good time, no metric that would announce, “OK, take off your masks!” Just as with security measures at airports after 9/11, there is always some possibility, some degree of unknown danger.

Walking through a crowded restaurant in Belmar, N.J., on a recent weekend, I saw that the public had made up its mind. The place was jam-packed, with others waiting, not a mask in sight, not even for the servers.

We can likely expect several waves of resurgence, according to doctors, but we can’t live our lives in constant fear. It won’t work. We must calibrate everything we do for the existing conditions, but those who impose these restrictions might delay, delay, delay the day when they should end. That would be safer, and wrong.

Doug Terry
Olney, Md.

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