Although NCTM's Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989) and Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (1991) are generating considerable interest, there has been little discussion of their ideological and social grounding and effects. By placing the Standards within the growing conservative movement in education, this paper raises a number of crucial issues about the documents, including the depth of the financial crisis in education and its economic and ideological genesis and results; the nature of inequality in schools; the role of mathematical knowledge in our economy in maintaining these inequalities; the possibilities and limitations of a mathematics curriculum that is more grounded in students' experiences; and the complicated realities of teachers' lives. Without a deeper understanding of these issues, the Standards will be used in ways that largely lend support only to the conservative agenda for educational reform.
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