MathCounts: Grandfather Clause for Existing Homeschool Teams

Click here for the official update. Small schools are not mentioned, but it seems logical that their existing teams would also be grandfathered in. Maybe? and according to Mathmom’s comment below, small schools are left out in the cold.

… After taking all concerns into account, a compromise was crafted that would grandfather in homeschools and virtual schools that participated in the 2009-2010 program year to allow them to participate on teams in this year’s Competition Program. All new homeschool and virtual school participants must abide by the new eligibility rules that require those participants to register only as individuals. This compromise was brought to the MATHCOUNTS Board of Directors and approved unanimously.

Therefore, for the 2010-2011 school year, all homeschool and virtual school groups that registered for the MATHCOUNTS Competition Program either as teams OR individuals during the 2009-2010 program year will be allowed to register teams or as individuals for the upcoming 2010-2011 program year, following all of the 2009-2010 requirements for participation.

13 thoughts on “MathCounts: Grandfather Clause for Existing Homeschool Teams

  1. That’s great in one way, and terrible in another. Most everyone who was protesting is now taken care of, but there can’t be new homeschool teams. Why are homeschoolers second-class in this?

  2. Let me play Devil’s advocate here. There’s an organization, Let’s Count Breath-Holding, that runs a competition for schoolchildren in underwater breath-holding. Everyone is welcome to compete under some set of rules the organization has stipulated in both individual and team events.

    Suddenly, the organization announces that starting in 20xx, children with red hair will no longer be eligible to compete in the team events because recent studies have shown that red-haired children have an unfair propensity to seek out the other most talented breath-holding red-heads for such competitions. After listening to protests from the parents of a large number of non-red-headed children, the governing body of the organization agrees to ban red-headed kids from the team events.

    The parents of the red-haired kids are outraged, so the organization agrees that for 20xx, red-heads can compete in team events if they competed in 20xx-1, but no new red-headed kids may enter the team events for 20xx or thereafter. What happens?

    If I’m one of those kids or a parent of one or more of them, I think I have a very good option. I say, “Screw the Let’s Count Breath-Holding folks. We’ll start our own competition.” And they do. And when they finish, the winners publicly challenge the winners of the “official” Let’s Count Breath-Holding competition, pointing out that clearly these are not true champions since they didn’t have to face all comers.

    The public, hungry to know who the REAL champions are, demands that the official winners face off against the renegade champs in a Super Bowl of breath-holding. After a year or two, under enormous pressure, the two organizations merge, everyone makes a fortune, and all is well.

    I’m just speculatin’ on a hypothesis, of course.

  3. From my point of view, this has very little to do with champions. It’s the normal kids, the ones who have never even heard of the AoPS website — who may not even really like math all that much — they just enjoy being part of a team. None of my students would even consider going to MathCounts as individuals, but when we had a team, they wanted to be with their friends and did their best so as not to let them down.

    This is the MathCounts Foundation’s contest. They get to make whatever rules they want. But I’m disappointed to think that Kitten and her friends won’t get the chance to play…

  4. Perhaps I was too oblique: start your own contest and invite everyone who is being left out of MathCounts. If it’s not about champions, as you say, then why would it make a difference?

    If it’s about being hacked off at being excluded and you think you have a legitimate complaint, that’s a different kettle of crawdads. Then you either take it to court or try to organize a boycott, or otherwise put real pressure on the organizers.

    I’m not saying which of these may be the case (it may be both; it may be one of them plus some other things that haven’t been mentioned). But I think the solution to the first dilemma is very easy.

  5. It would be a tremendous undertaking to start one’s one contest at the level of professionalism of Mathcounts. There are a few other contests out there if someone is looking for one, but none that “look like” Mathcounts in terms of bringing kids who like math in a region together to do math for a day. If someone is willing to do some organizing, running a MOEMS tournament may be a reasonable alternative: MOEMS Tournaments Page

    I wrote to ask for clarification on whether the small schools that had competed last year would likewise be grandfathered in, and got the reply that NO they are not!

    I was hoping that the grandfather clause would just be a stopgap while the concerned parties managed to work out a fair long-term solution.

  6. Grrr! That is so NOT fair.
    To tell the truth, I am not very hopeful for a solution to this problem. I think MathCounts came up with the grandfather clause just to stop the complaints, but it sounds to me like they are determined to do away with all “composite” teams, no matter what other suggestions people may offer.

  7. Much as I enjoy MathCounts, it looks like they will be going on without us. I just advertised a “Calculus for Young People” class based on Don Cohen’s materials and almost immediately got twice as many students signed up as the maximum number that ever came to a MathCounts club.

  8. I’m still hopeful that something will be worked out to accommodate a team like yours, because I do understand the enormous value of friendly collaboration.

    But I also love Don Cohen’s activites–they are a blast.

    And if you are looking for an easy to run (and free!) team math contest with awesome problems written by consummate professionals, check out the Purple Comet competition. Our middle school math circle teams had a blast with those last year!

    Also, think about running a math auction–those are incredibly fun too. More information on math auctions here from a talk I gave to NYC math teachers about running them:

    and even more here:

    The theme of the workshop I was speaking at was Pythagoras, but you can do math auctions with any kind of constructive problem. I apologize for the sketchy state of the notes at the second site above–they were links designed for people who’d heard my in-person talk, and I still need to annotate them, but hopefully the idea will be clear. Feel free to email me with questions if not.

    (By the way, great blog!)

  9. Thank you for the links, Mary! I don’t have time to look at them tonight, but they will give me something to think about over the next couple of weeks before our math group starts up for fall semester…

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