These three resources address the issues of who is going to teach mathematics (and science), how they should be prepared, and how they should be supported professionally once they are in the classroom. Before It's Too Late suggests that the lack of well-prepared mathematics and science teachers are a critical national issue. It argues that to improve our students' proficiency in mathematics and science, we must improve mathematics and science teaching. Educating Teachers makes the case, based on research, for well-prepared teachers and calls for restructuring teacher preparation and professional development. Finally, The Mathematical Education of Teachers describes the mathematics a teacher needs to know and what mathematics programs should look like to deliver that knowledge.
Before It's Too Late is the report of the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (the Glenn Commission), which was charged with “(1) reviewing the current state of American K–12 mathematics and science education with a focus on the challenges of teacher recruitment, preparation, retention, and professional growth and (2) articulating the steps needed to strengthen the classroom practice of math and science teachers” (p. 46). Before It's Too Late is predicated on four premises:
“At the daybreak of this new century and millennium, the future well-being of our nation and people depends not just on how well we educate our children generally, but on how well we educate them in mathematics and science specifically.” (p. 4)
“It is abundantly clear from the evidence already at hand that we are not doing the job that we should do—or can do—in teaching our children to understand and use ideas from these fields.” (p. 4)
“The most powerful instrument for change, and therefore the place to begin, lies at the very core of education—with teaching itself.” (p. 5)
“Committing ourselves to reach three specific goals—going directly to the issues of quality, quantity, and an enabling work environment—can go far in bringing about the basic changes we need.” (p. 5)
Summarizing what happens in most classrooms, the report notes that: “If the core of mathematics and science is about inquiry, then too many of today's mathematics and science classrooms come up short. Students are crippled by content limited to ‘What?' They get only a little bit about the ‘How?' (or ‘How else?') and not nearly enough about the ‘Why?' Missing almost entirely is