begrimed, yet shrouded in an aura ofrnworking-class dignity. Then the screenrnfills with what seems to be the folds of anrniron-gray curtain. Only when these foldsrnbegin to move and the camera pulls backrndo we realize that it’s a huge reel of steelrncable hauling the mine elevator up fromrnthe depths, bringing one crew of minersrnto the surface before lowering the nextrninto the pit.rnThe sequence tells us much aboutrnthese men. Their lives are curtained byrnStygian work shifts. To make their living,rnthey must toil long hours in darkness,rncrawling through narrow tunnels, breathingrncoal dust, and watching warily forrncave-ins. Their reward comes in thernbrief respites they enjoy with their families.rnIt’s not surprising that Homer Hickamrndidn’t want to follow his father intornmining work.rnThe arrival of Sputnik in 1957 showsrnHomer (Jake Gyllenhaal) the way out.rnWhile his neighbors scan the eveningrnsky for the Russian triumph, wonderingrnwhether it might drop bombs on them.rnHomer is inspired. He’ll build rockets.rnBy doing so, he hopes to construct his escapernroute to college and then a careerrnin aerospace, far away from Coalwood.rnAfter numerous misadventures, includingrnerrant rockets that narrowly missrnhis neighbors’ homes, Homer and hisrnfriends begin to succeed. Soon, the restrnof the town becomes involved, comingrnto see the midget missiles launched.rnAs the boys passionately pursue theirrnrocket experiments, the film’s scenesrnalternate between oppressive mine interiorsrnand expansive skyscapes, visuallyrnconveying the story’s central struggle betweenrna loving but dour father and hisrnambitious, visionary son. Homer Hickam,rnSr. (Chris Cooper) wants his boy tornstop dreaming and prepare himself for arnlife of work in the mine. But Juniorrnwon’t listen. He’s literally shooting forrnthe stars.rnTo his credit, Joe Johnston neitherrnexaggerates nor romanhcizes Hickam’srnstory. He depicts mining as a harsh occupation,rnbut one that offers men opportunitiesrnto prove their ingenuity and valor.rnHickam may bridle at what he takesrnto be his father’s blinkered existence, butrnhe respects his father and longs for his approval.rnIt’s a true story and an old one, capturedrnwith photography that’s all thernmore compelling for its seemingly unstagedrncompositions and natural lighting.rnThis film shows us what the mediumrncan do in the right hands.rnAnalyze This, produced by Billy Crystal,rnwho plays one of the leads, and directedrnby Harold Ramis, promised to bernfunny. Like October Sky, it begins with arnreference to Sputnik. Here, the upstartrnsatellite provides ironic counterpoint tornthe infamous Apalachin, New York,rnMafia summit that took place in 1957.rnIt’s meant to establish that the stor}”srnMafia boys are earthbound clods. Atrnleast, I think that’s the point, but who canrntell with a film so sloppily written?rnI found this putative comedy as witlessrnas thev come. Tr’ this on for size.rnRobert DeNiro, as a John Gotti-likernthug, notices a 70-year-old man gawkingrnat him. Exasperated by the geezer, hernsnarls, “Whaddya lookin’ at? Get outarnhere before I break vour [supply the allpurposernparticipial modifier] face.” Ifrnthis is your idea of a laugh line, you’ll certainlyrnenjoy the rest of the show. If not,rnthis is one movie offer you can safelyrnrefuse.rnGeorge McCartney teaches English atrnSt. John’s University.rnEDUCATIONrnYes, California,rnThere Is a RightrnAnswerrnby Marian Kester CoombsrnThey say you can’t fight city h a l i ­butrna group of California parentsrncalling itself Mathematically Correctrn(MC) has taken on the statehouse andrnwon the right to restore a rigorous mathrncurriculum to public education.rnIt is only just that the tide should beginrnturning in the former Golden State,rnwhich, because it boasts the biggest marketrnfor textbooks, has imparted to the restrnof the states so many ghastly fads, fromrnWhole Language to anti-American “history”rnto scienee-as-radical-environmentalism.rnThe “Whole Math” fad against whichrnMathematically Correct campaigned successfullyrnis based on: a verbalizing andrnvisualizing approach rather than anrnabstract, numerical one; a reliance uponrnconcrete “manipulatives” (marbles,rnstraws, etc.) in lieu of abstract numberrnconcepts; a demotion of the classroomrnteacher from leader to “co-discoverer”rnwho “facilitates” rather than instructs; anrnemphasis on teamwork rather than measurablernindividual achievement; the usernof calculators even in the lower gradesrnfor routine computation; a fixation onrneveryday, “real world” applications forrnmath (balancing your checkbook, buyingrngroceries, selling lemonade); andrnmuch, much talk about “process” andrn”method” and “critical,” “higher-orderrnthinking” as opposed to memorization ofrnfacts and the specific content of the variousrndomains of mathematics.rnWhole Math represents a deep confusionrnof mathematics with arithmetic. Itrnis a remedial math program for the innumeraternmasquerading as a reformed curriculumrnthat will include those previouslyrnleft out of the discipline.rnThe idea of “math without numbers”rnsounded dazzlingly innovative to manyrncutting-edge educators, but in attemptingrnto convey any sort of mathematicalrnproficiency to students, the miraculousrnnew method broke down. Parents watchedrnin horror as their children whipped outrncalculators to determine ten percent ofrn450. “Rainforest algebra” texts dronedrnon multiculturally for 100 pages or so beforerngetting around to presenting a singlernequation. Parents heard from their childrenrnhow “fun and easy” math was nowrnthat they didn’t have to memorize thosernpesky multiplication tables or get markedrndown for not getting the “so-called” rightrnanswer.rnIn California, and everywhere elsernWhole Math was introduced, state testrnscores nose-dived. One-half to two-thirdsrnof freshmen admitted to the Cal Staternuniversity system were found to need atrnleast one year of remedial math, despiternbeing drawn from the top third of graduatingrnseniors.rnAmong the more horrified parentsrnwere those who founded MC, “dedicatedrnto the proposition that 2-1-2=4.” CofounderrnMartha Schwartz, a college geolog)’rnprofessor, vividly recalls the nightrnshe and her husband “discovered wernwere not alone” in their reaction to thernnew New Math.rnIt was October 1995. Martha was despondentrnover “the damage done to goodrnkids and the suffering of the best teachers”rnas Whole Math was forced throughrnJUNE 1999/45rnrnrn