Sunday, February 07, 2010

Times Backs Judge's Decision

Amazingly, the Times came out with an editorial backing the King County Superior court decision to remand the review of curriculum for high school math back to the Seattle School Board. In fact, they say that the district shouldn't appeal the decision. From the editorial:

"This is a kind of judicial activism, and as a method of selecting or rejecting math books it makes us uneasy. Normally a judge would defer to the School Board. But the four members on the School Board who voted for the books were deferring as well.

In the crucial School Board meeting last May, none of the four members voting for Discovering — Cheryl Chow, Steve Sundquist, Peter Maier and Sherry Carr — argued that the constructivist method of teaching is superior. They accepted a decision presented to them."

I don't see this as judicial activism because it wasn't selecting or judging the quality of the math materials. It was judging the quality of the process used to select them. That the Times felt the Board deferred to staff on the the selection is more to the point.

Interestingly, here's why the Times support this ruling:

The Seattle Times is not in the business of choosing math books. We do have an ear to the ground — and what we hear when we publish articles critical of reform math is unmistakable. Parents loathe reform math. The letters we receive from math tutors and Boeing engineers, in particular, are almost 100 percent against this curriculum.

Don't appeal the ruling. Review the decision and vote again.
Will wonders never cease?

27 comments:

wseadawg said...

Even the Times can see the good sense in supporting the community's will. Can the Board?

Sundquist's comment that "the process was followed" really said, and says, it all. Nice punt Steve!

dan dempsey said...

I have sent two letters to the directors. One of them Examines Harium's attempt at intelligently applying relevant data. For which I applaud him. He did not analyze it correctly, but at least he tried which is more than Maier or Sundquist ever do.

Letter #1 Letter #2

You will note if you read the letter that although Harium felt that the Thornton Creek data and the Hillsdale New Tech High School in Durham North Carolina supported his decision to vote for the NTN contract. Those two schools do not support voting for Project Based Learning in Math as he thought.

Once again even with Harium's glowing statements about Hillsdale NT... it turns out it is about as bad as most other NTN schools. This one is in the bottom 20% of all NC schools just like the regular Hillsdale High in Durham, NC.

I think we need a poll on whether to appeal the NTN decision in Superior Court. It looks like a slam dunk win. Once again the four Directors voting for the proposal failed to examine the evidence. This time they have clearly violated article IX of the constitution as this proposal will take funds from 31 schools that have an average of 54% Low Income.
(Worse yet they knew it, as Meg Diaz told them ... what is the matter with these people?)

This is the exact opposite of the quality schools the SAP was supposed to be producing.

This is the height of insanity, spending $800,000 to copy failing schools and in the process taking money away from 31 schools that need it.

Absurd is all I can think. It takes me two hours of research to find NTN is not the way to go and of course way more time to research numerous schools and send the data to the board members so the gang of four can ignore it.

Why were Sundquist and Martin-Morris going to NT Sacramento when this school was incredibly poor?

That is easy Staff did no research. They did not even know that NT Sacramento was not a STEM school. Another Priceless from the Clueless.

So my question is can Melissa and Charlie slap up a poll and take votes on whether we should legally appeal this $800,000 lunacy.


How can Sundquist vote for this proposal when I've sent him all the data? Watch the explanations for the votes from the four directors voting yes. what do we do with these people?

Charlie Mas said...

I've re-read the judge's decision, and I think it comes down to this:

A. Inquiry-based math instruction has been demonstrated as non-effective, particularly with ELL students. (This kind of book sucks)

B. The adopted texts support inquiry-based instruction only. (The Discovering Math books suck)

C. Therefore, no reasonable Board member could select the materials from Key Curriculum Press. (It's stupid to pick books that suck)

Honestly, I think that the only Board action that could be compliant with the order would be either the rejection of the Discovery Series or some really astonishing combination of evidence and argument that shows that inquiry-based math works for anyone and for ELL students in particular. The easier of the two paths would be former.

TechyMom said...

I wonder...
Can we get our money back for these books? Would the concept of "fitness for intended purpose" apply here?

ParentofThree said...

The board/district always goes against data, parent input and simple logic.

Look for the appeal to be delivered over mid-winter break.

wseadawg said...

Yes, ParentOfThree, you're probably right on the mark.

Charlie: My guess is they'll minimally comply and repeat what they did before. They'll promise to supplement Discovery with Singapore and/or Saxon, and promise to offer waivers; then do neither. As a community, we should be ready to present their recent history of failure to keep that promise already to a Court, if necessary.

Chris said...

Dan, you make a compelling case about taking the NTN decision to court. I am wondering about the financial feasibility of that versus a recall election, if a recall could be specifically be directed at the directors you mention in letter #2 as having the most blatant disregard for data.

Also, when can plaintiffs recover costs if they receive a favorable finding? I'm just kind of blocked at the 10K+ price tag for correcting someone else's idiocy - I know, I know, it's way less than they spent for the BTA mailer... Could a charitable organization be formed to support such a suit so that at least donations would be tax-deductible?

Dana said...

I emailed Martha McLaren about fee recovery for the legal expenses in the math case, and here's her reply:

"I spoke with [our attorney] and here's the scoop: He told me that there's no way our expenses will be paid; we can recover only our filing fee of $250."

Bruce Taylor said...

Dan, I am writing to the directors to urge them to cut bait on Discovering.

Could you post links to your previous posts regarding the manner in which the adoption committee was stacked with discovery math apologists?

WenG said...
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WenG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ParentofThree said...

Send a check, best investment you can make at the moment!

Here's the info:

Send a check to Seattle Math Group,
c/o Martha Mclaren
7020 18th Ave. SW, J22
Seattle, WA 98106

Donate directly to the Seattle Math Group Account at any branch of Washington Federal Savings and Loan

Donate via email, through Paypal, to mmcl@pugetridge.net; donations will be transferred directly to the Seattle Math Group account.

WenG said...

Charlie, Dan, et al:

If the Board complies, what then? MG-J and crew can do exactly as wseadawg predicts: tell more zombie lies and stall. Where will that leave everyone else? A recall would be pointless. Two of the Board members are history, unless we can extract damages from them. Bad materials are replaced when? At what cost? (I know their drill. Materials, not curriculum.)

Not being a resident Lionel Hutz, I'll wait for legal experts to describe what it will take to undo the SPS finger puzzle. In the meantime, what's the likelihood that parents and teachers can insist on supplemental materials and guarantee their purchase and use, without reprisal? Is this where an injunction comes into play?

dan dempsey said...

Bruce,

I need to go now but I will get that done about the committee stacking. Only Patu and KS-B might be unaware of that as I informed the board of that well before their May 6, 2009 vote. ..... but a reminder is always good.

I have stuff to do today.

I will post my letter I just wrote to Meg. it has a lot of thinking in it.

My Major Beefs with SAP and NTN STEM

So who would like to check into anything that Maier or Sundquist may have done is an action subject to recall?

Pathetic job of decision making .. but is there even one offense that would be sufficient to merit recall?

I don't know.

As to the cost of the NTN court action... we have some validity now so ACLU might have interest as clearly article IX is being violated and we have precedent with that argument as Ahearne advanced that in "NEWS" state school funding case and won.

Also we can likely make this happen cheaper now that we have a template. The thought is that Scully can get us going with the initial filing of appeal and we do it yourself pro se from there.

See my letter this is an absolutely insane the track that MGJ is following..... It must be stopped some way.

I am going to OSPI today and then on to the Legislature. I'll have more time tomorrow. I've made no appointments.

dan dempsey said...

WenG ....

In one word: "WAIVERS"

There need to be requests to get started with other materials.

Not supplementing but tossing out the crap.

Patrick said...

Techymom, I seriously doubt that the district could simply return the books for a refund. Retail bookstores accept returns ultimately because the publishers will accept returns for credit. Textbook publishers generally do not, even if the books are unused. Fitness for a particular purpose is a hard standard to meet.

While the textbooks fail as the primary textbooks, they might be useful as supplementary material for kids who have mastered the algorithms and want to explore additional topics.

jamie said...

Maybe Thornton Creek could try resubmitting the waiver that was recently rejected? Does anyone know what they were proposing to use instead?

zb said...

"A. Inquiry-based math instruction has been demonstrated as non-effective, particularly with ELL students. (This kind of book sucks)"

So, which math instruction method has been demonstrated as effective (and, especially with ELL students)?

I usually look here for info: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/, but can see nothing on high school math there. Google searches don't yield useful scientific cites.

dan dempsey said...

For Elementary Singapore math has great success with ELL. Written in English for a student population in which over 50% come from homes where English is not the primary language.

Saxon also has demonstrated good success with ELL.

The Mind Research Institute has a program of instruction mostly software at the Elementary level but very complete complete.

A lot of their stuff is aimed at Hispanic kids, in the sense that it will work with them.

Mind's co-founder Matthew Peterson is an electrical engineer with a PhD. in NeuroScience. He knows math and he struggled learning to read etc. in elementary school. He is NOT the typical Ed School mumbo-jumboist..... He has written the Algebra Readiness system, which is a one year intervention to get kids ready to take an authentic algebra class. This course consists of teaching kids all the arithmetic and other math they should have learned in grades 2 thru grade 6 or 7 but did not.

I gave a set of these materials to Harium and Sherry back in Spring 2008. I thought this would be a good class for about half the kids entering grade 9 and could also be used in grade 8. Gave a set to Linda Host and Rosalind Wise just before they fell from grace.

Well you know the story we got Discovering and nothing below Algebra I books. Our Math Program Manager was an English Major and her decision making looks like it.

Now that the board may be reconsidering ... maybe the new committee would like numbers in the books and an organized presentation with Examples and an excellent selection of practice problems.

The Algebra Readiness system has a 3 volume text "A Blueprint for the foundations of Algebra" as well as software designed for use about one hour a week and some additional materials.

Side note: W. Stephen Wilson the John Hopkins Math Department head who found "Discovering" Mathematically Unsound ... has carefully review all the examples and problems in the 3 volume text.
It is mathematically sound.

Wilson is also a co-author of this:
What is important in school mathematics.

Bird said...

We do have an ear to the ground — and what we hear when we publish articles critical of reform math is unmistakable. Parents loathe reform math. The letters we receive from math tutors and Boeing engineers, in particular, are almost 100 percent against this curriculum.

It's great to hear the Times admit this. The Times and KUOW, often present thie issue in a "balanced" way. Anyone listen to the KUOW program on the math curriculum? It was roughly con, pro, con, pro, etc, in the listener call ins. You'd think people were evenly divided when they're not. The numbers and the height of passion very much runs anti-reform.

Sadly, to hear the Times admit this makes me even more disappointed in the school board. I'm sure the school board would have had roughly the same onslaught of anti-reform emails and letters from families, yet they still sided with board in the math adoption.

If public sentiment can't prevail here where it is so strong, how can we possible expect it to affect any other SPS deceisions?

dan dempsey said...

Read this fine extensive comparison of

Mathematical Soundness

It is very easy to get a look at the Wilson-Harel report and the King-Bright report. Odd that anyone who knows much math would find these reports of even close to equal value. So why did Ms. de la Fuente apparently see confusion here and not understand that her committee's recommendation was flawed?

On April 8th, at the SPS school board meeting Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson submitted "Discovering" as her recommendation. (watch 4/08/2009 part II on streaming video at the 11 minute mark)
MGJ tells the board that:

MGJ then said:
"It is critical that you hold me accountable."


The board gives MGJ everything she asks for ... so don't stop now.

I suggest that the board needs to give her what she asked for ... Please hold MGJ accountable for her fiasco.

Then move on to the Cleveland NTN debacle in which TEAM MGJ provided no empirical research of success but I provided extensive empirical research of failure. What's up with that? Does the size of my research staff dwarf that of MGJ's research staff?

dan dempsey said...

Bird, You make an excellent point about emails .. they were likely much like the school board testimonies prior to the May 30, 2007 EDM adoption and the May 6, 2009 "Discovering" adoption, which were at least 90% opposed to the recommended materials.

Remember the board's decision was based on the 1100 pages of material that included no public testimony, letters, or data.

====================
If public sentiment can't prevail here where it is so strong, how can we possibly expect it to affect any other SPS decisions?

I am working to get legislation passed next year to correct some of the problem you mention.

If a School Board loses a decision based on a violation of Article IX, that Board will pay the winning side's legal fees up to a maximum of $20,000

dan dempsey said...

Bird,

It is vitally important that even though the board may ignore public testimony and emails, a record of these should be kept.

I mentioned that we submitted a lot of material sent to the board that they did not based their decision upon as they did not send it to Judge Spector as a basis for their decision.

Here is what our Attorney had to say:

Hi Marty!

Please thank everyone for all their hard work on this - the only reason this case had a chance at all was the excellent record everyone helped create through their
public comments.


Keith

===================

I have a great record of everything I submitted on the $800,000 NTN contract proposal. Meg has already sent me her material that she sent to the board in this regard.

Anyone else with relevant material send away.

I always look for relevant data.

For the intelligent application of relevant data can be used to improve a system.

Sahila said...

Very quick comment....

I'm a bit out of the loop these days, but I believe one of the lawsuits against SPS I am involved in is working its way up the ladder to the Supreme Court, BECAUSE THE DISTRICT CANNOT/WILL NOT PROVIDE A FULL AND ACCURATE RECORD of everything that was submitted for consideration in the school closure process and because it cant confirm that all directors got to see every single email/presentation etc sent in by the community...

In the first place the District is failing in its duty to abide by record keeping regulations and in the second Courts cannot carry out a Judicial Review and appellents are being prevented from effectively arguing their cases without that information...

If the District cant provide all the information/documentation the community submitted arguing against this math curriculum adoption, you have another issue to sue on.... you might like to contact Chris Jackins and see about tacking on another action to the two already in train...

Namaste
Sahila

dan dempsey said...

Sahila,

Thanks for the thoughts. I think the "Discovering" math piece is now dead.

There will be no appeal because the Key Press folks just lost their appeal of Dorn's decision to recommend only Holt so far and NOT "Discovering"

Take a look HERE

dan dempsey said...

Blogger jamie said...

Maybe Thornton Creek could try resubmitting the waiver that was recently rejected? Does anyone know what they were proposing to use instead?

I think they were planning for TERC/Investigations II ...

W. Stephen Wilson,
the Johns Hopkins Math Dept. Head

He did the Math Soundness reviews of the High School texts that found "Discovering" mathematically unsound and the worst of all H.S. materials that he and Guershon Harel looked at.

Wilson finds TERC & EDM the worst two elementary text books in the USA.

He gives the edge to TERC as the absolute worst but it was a photo finish.

January WWC report seems to confirm Wilson's thoughts.

Likely Anna Maria would give it a waiver tomorrow but KSB probably not.

"Where's the Math?" started because of TERC.

Jan said...

Wow, Dan -- MORE great news! Thanks. I hope you are right -- that this, combined with Judge Spector's decision, spells the end for the Discovering books. I have a child who would LOVE to take math as a high school class -- and I have never allowed him to, because "inquiry" math is such a bad method for teaching him (he is a direct instruction kid, through and through). I wish I had any confidence that there will be new books in the high schools next year.