Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Live Blogging - Math in Focus Adopted

Blanford - nay
Carr - no
Martin-Morris - no
McLaren - aye
Patu - aye
Peters - absolutely
Peaslee -aye

Amendment Two passes.  The district will purchase Math in Focus for K-5 elementary curriculum.

English says amendment was complete replacement for original BAR.  Chair should call question on motion AS amendment.  In favor is vote for sole adoption of Math in Focus.

Vote goes the same.

(There was great joy in Mudville.  I did get a card from the Math in Focus vendors so I will ask about costs which yes, are still negotiable.  I thought they were from enVision but was wrong but I have no idea of enVision vendors were in the room.)

The room has cleared mostly.  I am pretty tired but I believe it was - to use a Board term - a "robust" discussion.  At some point, I will write my analysis of this discussion.  I will say that Director Blanford's performance was not good and he continues to be a very weak Board member.  No matter your feelings on the subject, it is just impossible to fathom that he did NOT know there was a new amendment.


Peanut said...


Finally, some common sense.

Amen said...

Wish my kid hadn't had to go to Kumon. I note: High school students have a problem with advanced math because they were taught multiplication via lattice method, and a curriculum that failed to teach long division.

Peanut said...

I had no idea what lattice method for multiplication was, so I looked it up.

I am appalled.

Greenwoody said...

Great news.

Blanford seems like a nice guy but I worry that he just takes his marching orders from the ed reform community, which may have failed to give him direction for tonight's proceedings.

Anonymous said...

Steven's still new. Plus I believe his kid is still at Beacon, so he's in the "What's wrong with what SPS is doing(?)" group. (Beacon is doing great). You have to get thrown under the bus and run over a few times to learn how things really are in SPS. When his kid hits middle school, he might see things differently.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I genuinely did not believe I would see it in my lifetime – or more importantly within my children’s primary education at SPS. Thank you – McLaren, Thank You – Peters, Thank You – Peaslee and Thank You – Patu!


n said...

(repost meant for this segment - still wondering...)

One thing that disturbs me: Why were eleven schools already using enVisions and four MIF? If programs are going to be piloted, there needs to be an even playing field once the pilot is over. It gave the enVisions program a huge advantage cost-wise.

Can anyone explain that practice to me? Piloting is fine but those pilots need to compare similar populations equally. Honestly, no wonder the bureaucrats who manipulated the MAC wanted this result.

And as for the MAC, I do blame them a little because Rick said he was in favor of MIF but apparently didn't want to be combative about it... Folks who serve on these committees need to speak up and have the courage to confront SPS staffers. You never know what motivates a staffer to manipulate a process.

That's a concern as well.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Peanut! Hope your daughter is smiling tonight too!


Anonymous said...

@StepJ: Thank you for saying what we all feel tonight. Have things actually changed, at long last?

I am dying to see how the Times reports this. Board blows 8 million on Math? Or Board votes for premium math product? Can't wait for the morning paper.


Anonymous said...

MW: I can't log off without giving you a huge, huge thanks. This stuff couldn't happen without folks like you hanging in there long after you could've easily walked away. So, thanks a million. And g'night!


TechyMom said...

Wow. Totally did not expect that. Thank You, Melissa and of the advocates who post here. Thank you school board! Chalk one up for democracy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Melissa, you should know how much of a difference you make. I would not have been aware of this issue much less felt informed enough to voice an opinion about it without this blog. Without you, I doubt this vote comes out the same way.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all these blog updates Melissa! I was at my daughter's softball game checking them all from my phone in between innings. Just got home to see the great news on the vote for MIF. Wow--very happy for this outcome.

Thank you to Board Members McLaren, Peters, and Patu!

And thank you again, Melissa!


Anonymous said...

Am told that Bruce Ramsey himself from the Times has been out to Craig Parsley's Singapore Math classes to watch 2-3 times......

If the Times wanted responsible Boardmembers willing to do the work (with zero staff support) to accomplish their fiduciary elected duties and close the biggest element of the achievement/opportunity gap - they found them in McLaren and Peters.

Director Blanford was refereeing @ his kid's school game day today - but makes you wonder whether other Boardmembers and indeed, staff, are communicating with him - or, whether he could read yesterday's posts, and other info. out there to be seen....

Shauna Heath sitting in the front row with her arms crossed glaring at the board speaks to a lack of professional demeanor. The rest of senior staff (how much money is that an hour) on the perimeter also looking glum, scurrying in and out, (including @ one point giving paper copies of slides to some Directors and noth others and not having financials until the motion was on the floor was extraordinarily embarrassing and frankly, telling.

Last, Dir. McLaren saving the "online guide for MIF ians Common Core alignment is easily accessible" for her rebuttal was a thing of beauty.

Especially proud as a West Seattlite of the powerful testimony given by several of our neighbors tonight.

Me thinks we have a wind shift and I do hope Supt. Banda and Sr. Staff smells the coffee.


Anonymous said...

@n, I was on the Committee. There was definitely pushback in many places.

The basic issue on the MAC was, MiF was just plain old divisive in how people saw it. It was a philosophical difference, almost. Just like on the Board, it was a clearly split vote on the MAC.

Better a clear side-by-side vote from the Board, whom we elect, than the same vote from an "anonymous" MAC.

The MAC did a fine job with basic vetting. Both curricula were "good enough" and the MAC worked in GREAT detail to make sure of that. But in the end, the split decision was rightly put to the Board.

-mac member

Patrick said...

Thank you to McLaren, Patu, Peaslee, and Peters. This is a big moment for the District.

Thanks also to Melissa and to Cliff Mass.

mirmac1 said...

Blanford lives in a bubble. His queries from the dais reveals what little an Ed.D gets you beyond a hefty raise, venture capital, or an elected office. I recall when SPS put together a work session on the magic of LI or DI, Beacon Hill was (with an N of 17) put forward as a resounding success because math was taught in Cantonese. Call me crazy, but I'm going to guess that EDM or some other text-heavy material was NOT used.

Would Blanford know? Given his performance to date, I'm guessing he just wasn't paying attention.

jl said...

If this is the decision, why bother having people on a committee actually spend time reviewing the curriculum? We should have just asked all of you to decide. MiF is not a good choice for all kids in SPS. But I know you do not agree, and do not want dissent on this blog, I just want you to know that as someone who was on the committee, and teaches math, that this blog is a bit myopic.

mirmac1 said...

I was DISGUSTED at district staff's tactic of throwing Dep Supt Wright out there at the last minute to attempt to hold SpEd compliance measures, IT OT and other misc "things we woulda/coulda/maybe paid for" with the stated delta between the two math textual materials. Their manipulation was so transparent as to be painful. By all means, cut out SpEd compliance measures that you underfunded for years, then say goodbye to control over $10M in Fed SpEd funds.

I thought it odd that Ken Gotsch did not get up to talk about these "contingency" items placed at theoretical risk. My impression to date is that he had too much integrity to do this dirty work.

Anonymous said...

JL - I want to know! Please tell us. I'm not being snarky. I'm sure either option would have had it's challenges and you are right, few of them for MiF have been discussed here. I do want to know what you think.

mirmac1 said...

Please give credit to Joan Sias, Rick and Linh-Co Burke and others for doing the heavy lifting - supporting the two board members who staked everything on placing our K-5 students math as top priority.

I must say Wendy London's appearance was incredibly uncomfortable. She had the audacity to say the district FIRST priority was fidelity to the "process"! NOT the students, NOT the learning, but the process.

Very telling was how every statement and testimony supporting MIF was applauded by the public, and that supporting the staff's position applauded by....other staff. Sad.

Patrick said...

JL, it's not censoring dissent just because there's different views from yours. You seem to be very free to make whatever case you want.

The committee seems to have been very divided. If the committee leaned strongly towards one text the Board would probably have followed it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know here, and body language doesn't always mean anything, but it seems Shauna Heath often has her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. Not sure why, but I often notice it.

- Hal

mirmac1 said...

Heath needs to follow Wendy London and Cathy Thompson to other pastures. When will we have a C&I Director worthy of the fastest-growing, most prosperous yet segmented city on the west coast?

jl said...

I am not implying censorship. Just a chorus of support, and that is fine. I just want to provide that dissenting opinion that seems lacking. I appreciate the watchdog role of this outlet as well, but rarely see the different opinions that you are referring to. I would like to see more in fact.

The committee was far from divided. MiF did not meet common core (like it or not it is what our legislature chose to evaluate students and teacher on). Even Linh-Co Burke was on the committee that picked EnV, and supported the process in general many times. A dual option would have been better than this, but was deemed legally unavailable.

I spent 40 hours in tedious process driven meetings and countless hours outside of those to review curriculum. If I remember correctly 21 out of 27 had EnVision as their top choice; MiF was actually 3rd! The board should have not wasted staff and committee members time and just looked for themselves, taken testimony and decided.

Anonymous said...

jl asks:

"If this is the decision, why bother having people on a committee actually spend time reviewing the curriculum? We should have just asked all of you to decide."
I'll try to answer this. It's because the committee has one role, and the board has another. The board, and only the board, is elected. It answers to the citizenry at large. The board might, or might not, adopt any committee's recommendations. In this case, it did not. The board members who voted for MiF stated their reasons pretty clearly, and took great pains to praise and thank the committee, and to express respect for the process. Director Peaslee said, quite forthrightly, that not everyone would be pleased with the final outcome. In this instance, you were not pleased. In another set of circumstances, I would not have been. I hope this is helpful.

-- Ivan Weiss

Just Saying said...

The district should be get additional funding from the state next year.

I will be watching the tapes. Hard to believe the district did NOT have hard financial numbers for the public.

jeffr said...

This is a monumental win for ELL children, for children with learning difficulties and for every SPS K-5 child. The turning of the tide and the support from teachers, parents, and community members who care about education is testament to why seattle is such a great place to live... this is a monumental win for us all!

jl said...

Good point Ivan.

Anonymous said...

The MAC was divided.

If you look at the MAC scoring of curricula, Envision and Go Math had a general consensus score from the MAC (A normal distribution for math geeks).

MiF was split. 1's and 4's (mostly) and fewer 2s-3s. A clear difference of opinion that was strongly held by the committee.

I think the Committee served its role; when a split like this occurs, it really is a political decision based on the make up of the MAC, and I think the best policy is raise it to the ultimate decisionmakers.

My one fault with the District is that they tried to minimize the appearance of dissent on the committee, but I'm glad that outed in the end so all steps were transparent.

-that statistician MAC guy

Anonymous said...

Hey Deja Vu, you haven't seen this before!

Me neither

Anonymous said...

@jl: If your school wants EnVision, ask for a waiver.

I've heard the Board's going to review and possibly rewrite the waiver policy to make it easier and more equitable for those who want something other than Math In Focus. Funding it is still an issue, but they want to take that burden off PTAs.

Why not rely on the IMC? Because the IMC poisoned the MAC by leaning on it and steering it toward EnVision. Sorry, but that's the best way I can characterize the IMC's behavior in this process.


Anonymous said...


What is the IMC?


-ML Mama

Anonymous said...

IMC = Instructional Materials Committee. MAC was a math materials sub-committee, essentially.


Linh-Co said...

@ jl: I'm not actually Linh-Co Burke but Linh-Co Nguyen. My husband, Rick Burke, was on the committee not me. He did not choose enVision and did voice his concerns about the process.

@n: You do blame Rick a little because he wasn't vocal enough. Did you know that he was put on the committee after the fact because he did a public disclosure request asking for the rubric which was used for committee selection? How would you have handled things differently when you are in the minority voice - 7 out of 27?

Laura said...

What a night!

Ivan Weiss is correct. The board holds ultimate responsibility- either way.

Frankly, if EnVision was adopted and failed tens of thousands of students..the board would have been responsible. No one else.

Anonymous said...

Melissa wrote that the EnVision vendor was in the romm. Well, actually it was the MIF vendor. (easy mistake to make)

Linh-Co and I were sitting in the back of the room noticing the MIF rep shaking and nodding his head in contradiction to statements being made by staff about negotiability of price, etc.

We wanted the directors to see this, so we tried to draw attention to him, with a handwritten sign that said "Ask the vendor!"

Juvenile, yes, and really did it make a difference to the vote? I think not, but still, it was galling to see the staff make erroneous statements right in front of the MIF sales rep.


jl said...

WSDWG-the board leaned heavily on the MAC as well.

Linh-Co- Sorry about the assumption.

Ivan- as I tried to sleep I guess your point is the one that is unsettling me, true as it is. As an education professional my bias is for those people to make decisions, not politics and blogs. My naivete is that decisions the professionals make, and support with sound reason would prevail.

Anonymous said...

Good news for the youngest SPS students! Unfortunately, I have a senior this year who barely limped through high school math, with private tutoring, topping out at geometry. My high school freshman is struggling in it too late for my sixth grader? In short, An entire cohort has been damaged by misguided ciriculumn. Thanks Melissa, for your tireless efforts!


Anonymous said...

jl said:

As an education professional my bias is for those people to make decisions, not politics and blogs. My naivete is that decisions the professionals make, and support with sound reason would prevail.
My response to that is twofold: (1) Our system has an elected school board, thankfully not an appointed one, as the so-called "education reformers" might wish. This allows democracy, as messy as that might be, into the process. It means that all decisions will be what you call "political." Your naievete, with no disrespect intended, is to assume that politics can EVER be divorced from these decisions, under whatever system you might imagine. (2) Sound reasoning is hardly the sole property of "professionals," whoever those are, and whoever is to decide. That is the same assumption that brought us the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Enron scandals, and the subprime mortgage crisis. That is elitist, paternalistic, aristocratic thinking. That's not an attack on you personally, and it doesn't mean that "power to the people" always has a satisfactory outcome. That's just my personal experience after 70 years of participation in the public process. I hope this is helpful.

-- Ivan Weiss

Patrick said...

JL, you may think Common Core is the most important thing, many others see it as a fad mostly for the benefit of Pearson.

Anonymous said...

It's not too late for your sixth grader...if you supplement at home. Changes to the middle school curriculum are still a ways out, though long overdue.

As far as decisions by "professionals," many members of the public, who were summarily dismissed in some board comments, are also professionals - professionals that use math as part of their job, or teach math, or need to deal with students not having learned math - and yes, I hope their feedback is worth something.

Textbooks do matter, HMM.

-thankful parent

Cliff Mass said...

The school board was doing its job last night.

District staff have tried to control the decision in many ways:

1. By wildly exaggerating the costs of Math in Focus.
2. By their bias in selecting folks for the math review committee.
3. By suppressing public feedback, including limiting the venue at which the proposed books were available.
4. By ignoring strong pubic feedback for Math in Focus.
5. By stressing Common Core alignment as an argument, even though this is the latest ed fad which is inferior to current WA State math standards.
6. By ignoring powerful evidence of very positive outcomes in the district when Singapore Math was used.

The school board considered empirical facts and public feedback to arrive at the best decision for Seattle's children. The three board members that opposed MIF have been consistent in opposing good math and progressive values.

Sharon Peaslee, Sue Peters, Betty Patu, and Marty McLaren deserve our thanks as does Melissa for providing accurate information on the process.

The Seattle Times, which opposed good math and these school board members, has "surprisingly" not covered this story.

Kumon Driver said...

Blanford indicated a small subset of parents were responsible for getting MIF into SPS. Does he think the same for Highline and other districts that chose MIF?

Anonymous said...

This is great news, and got me wondering how the transition will go for those in upper elementary grades, who already have a poor foundation courtesy of EDM. Perhaps those schools already using MIF have some guidance re: how to help make a smooth transition and fill in the gaps? It would be good to learn from their experience. Expectations are high for MIF, but I suspect there may be a little pain involved initially. Linh-Co and other tutors may also gave a good sense of this. If an EDM-taught 4th grader switches to 5th grade MIF next year, will they be lost?


Anonymous said...

This is the Board I want to proceed with the middle school math adoption. Why? Because no matter how Banada delegates 100% of it to Tolley and Heath, and no matter how that ends up just being Heath with her MANTRA, her religious belief ("Common Core will save us all! It is the alter to worship at! That plus MTSS, and all teachers have to do is differentiate!), textbooks still matter. Still? Better put: textbooks are the crucial starting point. Director Martin-Morris can repeat as many times as possible that the text book is not the curriculum, but that is a intellectual distinction that is meaningless. In the real world, some principals have totally lost the forest for the trees, and in the name of consistency, alignment, equity, fidelity, control, the I-know-better-than-you-and-more-too, text books are the blunt-force instruments to exert those principals' control. Flexibility, creativity, responsiveness, adaptivity have all gone out the window in these buildings, and instead have been replaced with praying at the God of the text book and harassing teachers who fail to prioritize the party line, but who instead prioritize kids and kids' learning. That is why Director Martin Morris is so wrong, he just doesn't get real world conditions in today's "align everything!" "homogenitity for all". Not all buildings operate this way, not all prinipal's are thus oriented. But, some are, which is why the text book is so critical.

Singapore math is an excellent baseline. Covers the basics in the clearest way possible. Brings every child along, as in no child will be left behind. Is it perfect? Of course not. But, it is the better baseline for all. Envision is a good program too, and some high achieving, low FRL, low ELL schools might prefer it. If they do, I hope those communities pursue a waiver. And I hope all principals will encourage teachers to teach the standards with whatever tools they see as most effective. MIF is the first layer, go-to, support, tool in that process.

The Board withstood the heat from Dr. Wright. If they need to forgo 5 SpEd hires who are necessary because of the cost of ditching Everyday Math for good textbooks, perhaps they can do layoffs within the Superintendent's cabinet, starting with Dr. Wright. That would be one way to save money.

Now, let's ditch CMP2, post-haste. This board will focus on what serves children best. Let's get them to get staff to move forward to implement the process for middle school math adoption, but with emphasized guidenced, that at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the text is the best for teaching all kids and supporting math fluency ( as opposed to supporting benchmarks).


TechyMom said...

Does anyone 6th grade MIF be available for spectrum 5th graders? I have a sinking feeling they'll still get CMP.

Anonymous said...

Ms. McLaren: thank you for holding fast to your truth, and not getting spun around by staff. Thank you.

Ms. Peters: you rock. In so many matters, during your brief tenure, you have relentlessly focused on trying to are the issue down to the essential core of facts, which staff often fails to do, and, makes it hard for you to do. But still you persist, by being thoroughly prepared. Loved that you called out the 10 day upper range for professional development. Loved that you questioned embedding math manipulatives when we already own those. All those trifling 'details' to get to an apples-to-apples comparison, WHICH THE STAFF SHOULD HAVE DONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. The fact that they didn't is what makes them look manipulative.

Director Carr, I respect. She knew the process wasn't absolutely perfect, but was willing, in the absence of serious misconduct accusation, respect the recommendation of the MAC. Personally, I can't fault her for that.

Director Martin Morris, you need to spend more time in the classroom and with parents. You have lost touch.

Director Patu, you made me smile. Your the gal who knows what she knows because you know immigrant kids. You simply never going to go against what you know to be good for those kids. Plain and Simple. Ms. Heath, take note.

Dr. Blanford; nothing can be said. I don't see anything that will ve contributed from this person. He was petulant and showed he has nothing to learn from listening to the community. Scary that he's got 3.5 years more.

Ms. Peaslee; math was why she wanted to be on the Board. Glad she didn't forget that.


JB said...

Question: what do you think was the motivation of the staff in pushing for the other curriculum. Seems like they really went on a spear for it, but why?


Anonymous said...

@Ivan: "Professionals" also gave us EDM and CMP math!

@jl: My next step is to inquire and push for a better waiver process for schools that find EnVision to be better for their students. Choice was the preferred path for the majority of the Board, but they got a surprising amount of push-back and took staff's and principals' word that it would be a massive headache to deal with.

The "push-backers" implored the Board to choose one curriculum only - certain it would be EnVision. Many figured the board would blink first and submit to the professionals. In the end, they got what they demanded.

If the push-backers weren't serious about the headaches with a dual adoption, and it was all rhetoric, then a bunch of grown-ups just learned a lesson. Too late to say "Just Kidding!"

Anti-dual-adoption arguments like the "mobility crisis" were disingenuous from the start. 100 or so kids might have challenges, out of 50,000 students? (Puh-leez! We lived through EDM.) First, we weren't buying it as a serious concern. Second, that's an anecdotal, anti-democratic and incompetent way way to set policy. Talk about "wag the dog."

As a teacher, I'll support you 100% in getting the best math for your students, and entrust that choice to your school.

I appreciate you weighing in, but I won't apologize for the advocacy, which at times seems one-sided. Good points can open and change minds, but the burden is on the proponents and, I'm sorry, but "leaving it to the professionals" is what got us here. I hope you can understand that viewpoint.


Anonymous said...

Cuz they're smarter than everyone else. Cuz they have the true religion of CCSS, which to me is not a good thing: fads come and go, but young human brains and developmental biology is unchanging. Early math is not sexy, but that doesn't mean it can't be compelling or engaging. Math basics need to be taught straightforwardly. This is akin to teaching reading via 'whole word acquisition' vs. phonics.

Not a great answer, but that how it seems. Essentially, they've lost sight of the basics and the big picture. Just my opinion.


Anonymous said...

It would be nice if the committee actually reviewed the curricula on their merits, but there was no discussion of math on the committee. It all came down to "does this align with common core?" And "how easy will this be to implement?" Those opposed to MIF were against it from the outset, and when asked to engage on the exact reasons why, from the perspective of the MATH in the book, they refused and kept spouting party lines.

-MAC watcher

Anonymous said...

I heard from a SPS teacher friend that a vendor for Pearson was bragging he was a good buddy with Banda. Could that be one reason enVision was favored by the internal staff? This might be pure speculation but it bothered me.

So pleased that this new board showed courage and did what was best for the students. They have deserved better for so many years.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@Math Counts: Well stated!

@Singapore Singapore: I have to disagree with you on Sherry. She's another Sundquist: Nice person. Great friend and neighbor. But her inexplicable, consistent faith and trust in staff - no matter what - makes her a disappointing board member.

Her "all bets are off now" negotiation comments were ridiculous. And her citing of "Shoreline" for bench-marking - which the committee was supposed to do, but didn't, were 11th hour, pointless, and easily-rebutted rationalizations.

Sherry ALWAYS goes along with staff, just like Sundquist. She asks good questions and is sincere. But that's just not enough to be effective.

Aside from that, I agree with you on everything else!


Anonymous said...

"MiF did not meet common core (like it or not it is what our legislature chose to evaluate students and teacher on). "

MiF *exceeds* common core.

Common core is a testing methodology, not a teaching methodology.

We don't need to "teach to the test" - we need to teach kids to succeed in math, with whatever methodology works best, and then they will do well on the test as long as the test is fair.

If doing well on a test requires that kids be taught to take the test, and capable math students who weren't taught to take the test can't do well on it, then there is something WRONG with the test.

I would much rather have a generation of kids who learn math well, and maybe don't score as well on common core as they would have if they were taught exclusively to the test. Tests come and go, but real competence will last a lifetime and follow these kids all the way through high school and college and beyond!

I remember that it was an insult to say a teacher "taught to the test" - now it seems to be what everyone wants to do.

-Child of a public school teacher, granddaughter of a public school elementary principal who was well known and loved in his district (not SPS)

Anonymous said...

@S parent: Don't let that slip away. This fight is far from over. We should look into that. Follow up if you can. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

What action is required to swiftly replace CMP2 with MIF at the middle school level? It is an injustice to our kids to continue subjecting them to a suboptimal math curriculum at the middle school level. We have an opportunity to inspire and “save” many children who are deeply struggling with math after 6 years of EDM. And for those now lucky enough to start MIF next year in the elementary grades, will we really shift them from MIF to CMP2 starting in the 6th grade? This makes no sense.

ScrawnyKayaker said...


Driving to work today, I said "I would fall on the floor in shock if they passed Amendment 2."

Turns out the floor under my desk is *really* dirty.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JL, I appreciate your hard work and advocacy on this issue. We heard differing opinions from parents and teachers. And, as was stated by several Board members, nothing is going to please everyone.

2 boys club, we did discuss all the options here (not all seven as some got eliminated early on).

Why did staff support enVision (seemingly from the start)?

I don't know. I'm sure some of it was professional judgment but then again, was Shauna Heath speaking last night? Was the first line of explanation from staff on academics? No, it was on cost.

I do not suspect any undue relationships with vendors.

I do suspect that they were riding on the idea of Director Carr's - either curriculum would have been okay - and wanted the cheaper one.

Why? Because they need the money for all their "projects." That Mr. Wright trotted out a list of wistful wants while they hire new administrators was quite surprising. He seems smarter than that.

As Peters said:

"The Board just approved wireless package for $9 million, how do we prioritize needs? So should fund math."


ScrawnyKayaker said...

And huge thanks to torch-bearers Melissa, Linh-Co, et al!!!!

word said...

Finally, a decision that respects the academic needs of the district's students.

Bruce Taylor said...

This morning I am thrilled for parents, the community, and especially for the voters who have elected a majority of the school board willing to stand up to JSCEE staff and corporate education privatizers.

Honestly I think either textbook choice would have been a vast step forward over Everyday Math. Perhaps that is setting the bar too low.

But elementary parents, I must warn you, the middle school math textbooks (CMP, i.e. Connected Math) are VASTLY worse than EDM.

So don't relax, folks. Savor this victory for a day and then carry the fight forward with haste.

mike miller said...

You sound like a committed & caring teacher/constituent willing to engage in thoughtful debate. I appreciate that, and hope that my comment won't come off as "snarky". But you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the way a free (self-governing) society is supposed to work. In a free society, the "experts" are rarely supposed to make the decisions. Their role is to act as impartial advisors to those with the most at stake. The ones with the most at stake (in this case, the SPS voters through their elected reps) then make the decisions. This is not only right, but practical, as the ones with the most at stake will have the greatest incentive to change course when the occasional, inevitable mistakes occur. Think about this in your personal life. When you go to a doctor, dentist, auto mechanic, investment advisor, or whatever, do they make the decisions for you? No. They act as impartial advisors to you, and then because you have the most at stake, you decide.

Anonymous said...

@Ivan et al.,

There was a little bit of "smartest people in the room" going on in the MAC, but not much. But I see some of that here in this thread!

The real "voices of the technocrats" that I heard in that MAC room were the voices of front-line teacher experience: Go for an incremental change that's most directly aligned with the big Tests next year, or for Yet Another Trend Pushed by Idealists, rushed, with inadequate training, and antagonism with the District (who can scuttle it in many ways).

That's just plain old fashioned hard-earned realism, not paternalism. Especially when the questions are raised by the Board on MiF are about cutting costs: I'd be paranoid as a teacher that I wouldn't be trained properly at all for this, or have critical supporting materials, etc.

My main takeaway from all this is: good people can come to a great decision in a room, but when the district gets ahold of that decision and crafts it into a policy, that's a black box that Bad Things come out of.

It's right to be victorious for what y'all worked hard on, but if you want to support the teachers, you'll keep the fire on the District that the implementation actually works.

-Stat MAC guy

Anonymous said...

Stat MAC Guy:

We certainly can agree on the need to ensure effective implementation.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

jl, thank you for your service and your willingness to lend your thoughts and opinions on this matter.

But, you are absolutely correct that the majority of contributors to this blog "do not want dissent" from the prevailing point of view. Dissent is simply not welcome here. To be fair, Melissa et al will NEVER censor your comments or delete them (if you follow the rules), but dissent is not the order of the day. The purpose of this blog, I've concluded, is to provide a forum for like-minded people to share information, vent, and commiserate and, most importantly, provide a counterpoint to the media of the education reform community (e.g., LEV, Partnership for Learning, Stand for Childen, et al). They generally don't want any thoughts or opinions shared here that doesn't align with their own thoughts and opinions.

How do I know this? I regularly share my unwelcome thoughts and opinions. For this, I've been told to simply go away, to get my own blog, told I was going to be ignored, etc. For those readers (and sometimes contributors) who come here to get a full picture, they will soon be SOL. But, as has been suggested to me multiple times, those people can read LEV's blog if they want information that differs from what is espoused here.

--- swk

Anonymous said...


That's the nature of the Internet. Like-minded people congregate for information and, yes, for reinforcement. Big whoop! I go on LEV's blog from time to time and dispute what most of them say and think. I don't give a rip if they want me to comment or not; Until they ban me, I comment as I see fit. I don't care if they want dissent or not. Try growing a thicker skin and quit crying victim. I welcome your comments even though I usually disagree with them, because at least they are informed from experience.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

thank you to people who complimented my contributions.

The biggest thanks go of course to the directors. I know Directors Peters and McClaren put in many many long hours digging up information and preparing their amendments, with little help from staff.

Big thanks go also to the folks who have been soldiers in the Seattle math war for years now (I am a newcomer)

THANK YOU Rick, Linh-Co, Sue, Marty, Sharon, Ted Nutting, Kate Martin, Dan Dempsey, Cliff Mass, J. Smith, and so many others.


Anonymous said...

Very glad to see this. My younger kids, still in elementary, will benefit from this. My eldest is heading into middle school next year, and I'd like to have her get to experience a sensible math curriculum at some point as well, before it completely too late. So, what is the process for getting new middle school & high-school maths as soon as possible?

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

On to the fabled later bell times for high school students and middle schools?

Even if we have to change them one school at a time, fine, but seriously, this next, along with middle school math adoption.


BEP said...

I'm still glowing. Democracy actually works once in a while. Evidence-based reasoning, ditto. Heroes in this multi-year, painful process: Melissa W. Cliff M, Peters, McLaren, Patu, Peaslee, Rick Burke, Linh Co and countless others. The board did their job, at least 4 of them. They represented the parents who voted for them and made a statement that they are taking an active stand about accountability and not rubber stamping an administration that unfortunately has proven themselves unable and/or unwilling to act as advocates for our students and community. Sue Peters and Marty McLaren my hat goes off to you but I also recognize you stand on the shoulders of many great people in this community.

Linh-Co said...

Thank you Melissa for always supporting our math cause. You have been extremely generous about letting us guest post and relaying our message. We definitely could not have done this without the blog and community support.

It will certainly be a challenge to get intermediate (3-5th grade) Everyday Math students to transition to Math in Focus. Highline did a roll up for the initial adoption starting in the lower grades. Teachers will have to pull out earlier 3rd grade lessons introducing bar modeling, working with drawing accurate proportions, and teaching proper notations for diagramming before the students can be successful in multi-steps problem solving. Craig Parsley and other teachers from Schmitz Park and Boren STEM can do this. I would be happy to provide free inservices to teachers to teach them how to use bar modeling. Central staff probably will not be interested.

Anonymous said...

Next job for the community: Advocate for Craig Parsely to get job as head math coach, soon enough that he can take charge of designing and running the MIF PD program.

I hope he would consider this.


Anonymous said...

I also volunteer to do free bar modelling training.

Just think how much we can save on PD if the district accepts such offers?


Anonymous said...

Ivan, no tears here.

I should be grateful you didn't tell me to put down the crack pipe. ;-)

--- swk

Michael Rice said...

I sent a note to Directors Peters, McLaren, Peaselee, and Patu to thank them for voting for Math in Focus. I have seen the damage done by Everyday Math and CMP2 to a whole generation of Seattle students. This give me hope that now all students will have a chance to be successful in math, not the just the students whose parents can afford to send them to Kumon.

I also want to say that while this blog has point of view, ALL opinions have been welcomed, listened to and discussed. Melissa has many times warned people to keep it civil and for the most part that has hapened. I think people need to remember that disagreement is not personal. Heck, I have no idea who anyone I have debated over the years is since most people don't sign their name. One reason I have alwyas signed my name is because I am a teacher and you may one day be sending me the most precious thing you have in the world to me, your children, and I want you to know what I am and what I stand for. If you don't think I should be teaching your child because of the way I do things, the way I teach and the materials I use, that's fine. You need to decide what is best of your child.

We are just finishing up a great year at Ingraham, we have a huge freshman class coming in, and next year will be even greater. With yesterdays' vote, I think the SPS is starting down a path where what is best for the kids is becoming the priority, not what is best for the consultants and the corporate education reformers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, I regret you feel unwelcome. I will only say that at least at this blog your comments don't "await moderation" or not get printed because I don't like what you say. That happens elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

This is the second time the board has gone against the MAC and chosen a different curriculum. The last time was to give us EDM and we all know how that turned out. I find it hard to believe that ANY teachers will bother joining a curriculum committee in the future. I am not a fan of envision or Math in Focus. I advocated for waiting another year before adopting to give other publishers a chance to finish writing curriculum that is solid math and has some alignment to the CCSS that students and teacher are going to be tested on. I think that we all deserve a better curriculum. I’m disheartened by this whole process. I am disappointed in the School Board for placing so little value on the hard work the MAC did. I am disappointed in how few teachers actually reviewed the curriculum for adoption. I am disappointed in the board for not doing a better job at listening to the TEACHERS (who did offer opinions and feedback) as they are the ones who have the best understanding of kids, teaching, curriculum and the CCSS. I don’t think that I can keep teaching for SPS much longer.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that info, Linh-Co. That's exactly what I was asking about, and I can see how it would be tremendously helpful to have those who've been through it help light the way. I don't imagine the MIF PD will address how to respond to EDM-based deficits the kids already have. Interesting to know that Highline did a roll-up. I don't have an elementary student to benefit from this, but it really sounds like our teachers could use a "cheat sheet" on what to pull from earlier grades and when.


Just Saying.. said...


I rather appreciate the fact that you come here and offer a different perspective. On a larger scale, can we talk about the voice of dissent (ours) in relation to Gate's highly funded media blitz?

Anonymous said...

Minority viewpoints are welcome and necessary. Complaining that they aren't isn't "contributing" much to the discussion.

It's about ideas and educating using knowledge, experience and facts, as much as possible.

This blog functions as an unofficial ombudsman's office where complaints frequently originate and build into momentum.

Articulate, meaningful viewpoints can open and change minds, and I rarely read the nastiness we see at places like the Times comment section.

If you're in the minority, it's lonely. I'm there from time to time, just mention "guns" as an option to protect students, and you'll be trounced by numbers, but also engaged by those attempting to persuade.

Maligning this blog and saying it accepts no dissent is simply not true. Do not confuse popularity with control or censorship, as so many do when their personal view isn't widely shared.


Just saying said...


My last comment: I appreciate your information and you've even taught me a couple of things. That said, we'll never agree on certain issues.

I value all, and need to add...the manner in which you sulk is sort of cute....;) I'm not being snarky, either. You say you won't be back, but you just can't help yourself. Have a good day (no snark)

Linh-Co said...

The Board did not go against the recommendation of the MAC in the Everyday Math adoption. That committee never finished the process and did not make a final recommendation. They were down to 2 finalists - TERC and Everyday Math. Carla Santorno pushed Everyday Math through.

That Board just rubber stamped staff's wish.

word said...

We (parents) learned how to do bar modeling from Linh-Co in, literally, minutes at a session she ran at the public library. It is a great idea for staff to take advantage of her expertise.

Anonymous said...

Hey, ok! Now when are we going to dump Writers/Readers Workshop and get back to teaching reading and writing?


Anonymous said...

Just Saying, your funny (truly, no snark) observation regarding my sulking but not being able to stay away reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in Franny and Zooey:

"Years ago, in my earliest and pastiest days as a would-be writer, I once read a new story aloud to S. and Boo Boo. When I was finished, Boo Boo said flatly (but looking over at Seymour) that the story was 'too clever.' S. shook his head, beaming away at me, and said cleverness was my permanent affliction, my wooden leg, and that it was in the worst possible taste to draw the group’s attention to it."

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

YES districtWatcher. My daughter can't write without that T-E-A-R paragraph! She used to be a wonderful creative writer!

Patrick said...

If Martin-Morris thinks the textbook is unimportant, we could just photocopy some copyright-expired textbook from before 1923. That would cost even less, and there would be even more money for administrators!

Anonymous said...

swk -- please, please don't go! Aside from all the sober (and correct) things that have been noted about the value of dissenting opinions, we really can't lose anyone with the good sense to quote from Franny and Zooey! (no sarcasm intended).

What do we need to do to convince you to keep weighing in?


n said...

At Linh-Co: "How would you have handled things differently when you are in the minority voice - 7 out of 27?"

I didn't realize the vote was so skewed. Truthfully, with a one-sided decision like that, I'm not sure the Board did do the right thing. I wasn't there and apparently the seven could not sway the twenty-one.

I was in favor of MIF but now my question changes: what did the twenty-one consider that the seven did not?

Three of my teacher friends and one retired principal who went down to check out the choices personally all picked enVision. They felt there was more thinking and problem solving in that program which is good for English speakers with good math exposure. But for ELL and poor readers, it gets in the way of the math. Perhaps a dual option would have been the best appraoch: the program that meets the needs of the diverse populations served in Seattle Schools.

I appreciated that Rick posted. I am somewhat chagrined at my ignorance about the process.

My earlier question still stands: Why give enVision such a head start by putting it into so many schools? If you compare Shoreline with Highline, you can see vast differences. Each district apparently chose the program that matches their needs.

Doesn't that sound logical?

n said...

Sorry Linh-Co, I meant seven out of twenty-seven. So much for my math!

Linh-Co said...


There were 9 people on the MAC that rated No Recommendation higher than Math in Focus. Meaning these teachers would rather stay with EDM. I don't necessarily think this a reflection on MiF. Rather it's more telling that the make-up of the MAC were teachers with a disposition for constructivism and reform math.

Anonymous said...

@Linh-Co: My wife was wondering why many teachers supported EnV over MIF as well. I figured several probably prefer incremental change, vs. what they fear could be radical change, so they played Goldilocks "just right" with their choice. Others likely took a year or two to develop a cohesive, effective method with which to teach EDM and don't want all that work to go to waste. And there's always some who just do what their told. I doubt very seriously that they all chose EnV for the same or similar reasons. WSDWG

Greeny said...

@n and @ WSDWG -
You wonder why teachers you know seem to support enVision? Me, too - the SPS staff especially. I can't get past my initial conclusion after reviewing the vendor-provided materials: the reason is, enVision SPOON-FEEDS Common Core. The CC item drives the text - 1:1 correspondence, lesson by lesson. I don't think there is air between them (well done, internal Pearson-ites - I'm sure those were your marching orders, but really...over the top.) Spoon-feeds to a testing methodology, with who knows what kind of performance when used as a teaching methodology (kind of reminds me of the 'wolf in sheep's clothing" story.) It struck as a brazen "teaching to the test" and sadly small and cynical, overtly screaming recognition that test results will be tied back to TEACHER evaluation - in contrast to the Math In Focus materials, which are so clear and plainly focused on teaching STUDENTS math...all students. So there it is, my small, profoundly disappointing ah ha.

Just Saying said...

Jan, You don't need to beg swk. He/she can't help himself/herself from weighing in. Weighing in is a good affirmation that he/she is monitoring the blog.

I'd love to know swk's feelings about Seattle's Universal Preschool proposal and this:

Anonymous said...

@Greeny: Several threads back, I posted links to the OSPI website which included a Windows Media version of a webinar from Student Achievement Partners, who had a very heavy hand in the development of CCSS.

Listening to the webinar and viewing the powerpoint slides is downright eery, when you think about the level of "control" CCSS will have over a generation of students in public schools if it comes to fruition as they want it to. As far as standards go, it is plainly and un-apologetically one-size-fits-all for the whole country.

While many who support common core were well intended, I found my thoughts floating back and forth between local control push-back in many states and regions, on the one hand, and Chairman Mao's Re-Education programs on the other. Hyperbole yes, but all sorts of thoughts go through one's head, such as Carl in Caddyshack:

I have to laugh, because I've outsmarted even myself. My enemy, my foe, is an animal. In order to conquer the animal, I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one. I've gotta get inside this guy's pelt and crawl around for a few days.

Are we becoming the enemy or rival in order to defeat him? What is all this controlling of the flow of information CCSS exerts over our kids minds? It completely contravenes so much of our history of public education in this country, it just left my head spinning to listen to comments and see how quickly state education people listening to the webinar fell into line and agreed with the SAP rep, whom I believe was Sandra Alberti. Bizarre, almost creepy.

I would imagine any MS or HS history teacher would be speechless at what's going on, given those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. But we apparently have many teachers planning to teach to CCSS as much as possible, because that's what students will be "graded on" and maybe someday what teachers will be "rated on" as well.

The same standards from sea to shining sea? Welcome to the United States of Widgetry & Data. I think we've already reached the point where we've standardized our curricula to death, but CCSS is causing people to double-down on it.

From a policy standpoint, to meet each kid where they are and help them grow and develop into competent adults, I find this "programming" of kids terrifying and depressing.


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