Readers of my editorials may recall one piece wherein I mentioned the story of a 1980s presidential candidate who reportedly had to ask his press entourage how to calculate the decimal equivalent of 3/7, to help his son with a home work problem. With that tale in mind, perhaps the recommendations of a presidential panel on math education should come as no surprise:
"Difficulty with fractions (including decimals and percents) is pervasive and is a major obstacle to further progress in mathematics, including algebra," the panel, appointed by President Bush two years ago, said in a report.
Another main point to come out of the panel's work is that we really don't know all that much about the best way to teach mathematical concepts. You can read a good commentary on the report findings here, as well as find a link to the report itself: