I am going to believe the Superintendent as he tells principals that Math in Focus in the sole selection for K-5 math and will be used in the fall.
I am disappointed that he said in the letter, "I know many of us are frustrated about the process." It's an odd statement given the district - not the Board - designed the process. The actual vote on it was designed by the State Legislature (meaning the Board has the final, legal say on the curriculum).
I am going to believe the Superintendent when he says that MIF will be funded to be "fully implemented" including professional development.
- Clearly, someone from above was trying to maneuver the BLT process. I say this because I heard from three different people at three different schools about a math adoption survey. It was the same survey. Now how could that have happened, I wonder.
It was also a strange survey asking parents what is important to them in math curriculum. These are very pointed questions for laypeople to answer. I suspect that many parents don't even know what some of the language truly means (again, if you are a layparent who doesn't track ed lingo).
This rushing around to try to get BLTs/parent feedback by 9am this morning would be funny if not so sad. Clearly someone was trying a Hail Mary.
- On May 1, Michael Tolley sent out a memo to all elementary/middle school principals (cc'd to the Board and senior staff) about MAC's decision to recommend enVision. Two items leap out at me.
One is a paragraph where Mr. Tolley goes thru the timeline for the rest of the process. He almost seems to think it is a defacto decision that the Board will vote yes. He did not raise the idea that enVision might not be the final selection.
And, in his last paragraph, he says "a detailed professional plan will be sent to you following the Board vote." Either he really didn't understand what might have happened or felt quite secure that the Board was going to go along with the recommendation. So the principals have been looking at enVision materials for over a month, believing this was the selection. (I'm not saying it was a bad idea to send the principals the materials but a caveat to them about not getting too wedded to them might have been appropriate.)
- As I mentioned in my reporting of the Board meeting discussion, Director Blanford said all the elementary principals in his region supported the MAC recommendation. That is not quite the right because I have seen the e-mails between him and those principals.
He sent an e-mail on May 21st to these principals. He said that some Board members were pushing for a dual adoption. I find this interesting because most people did not know there was such an amendment brewing until much later but he gave these principals a heads up. I'd be willing to bet PASS knew as well.
He also references a "hastily constructed districtwide survey gauging principals' opinions on that subject." I'll have to ask for that survey and its results.
He asks for the principals' input and says that "your input will factor greatly into the vote that I cast on the issue." Greatly as compared to what other input?
Here are the replies:
Greg Imel, Bailey-Gatzert - single adoption. He said he did not review any of the proposed curriculums and could not say which one was best. He said he trusted the judgment of the MAC.
Rhonda Claytor, Leschi - said she agreed with Imel and supported the single adoption of the MAC.
Kelly Archer, Stevens - supports MAC's decision.
Marion Smith, Jr., Lowell - supports single adoption with "targeted, on-going and differentiated professional development."
Christine Helm, Thurgood Marshall- single adoption for the entire district because of transient students and equity. She goes onto say, "There are savvy parents who know how to work the system and advocate and then there are other parents who do not know how to advocate and this seems unfair to grease the squeaky wheel." She also says, "At Thurgood Marshall, we have seen a significant increase in our math scores and we attribute it to implementing the enVision math program."
Mary McDaniel, Madrona - She said, " Students who enroll at Madrona in Dec, March, May, should have the opportunity to continue with enVision or Math in Focus. School curriculum alignment is what's best for students." She continues, "My vote - one curriculum."
So let's count. Six principals.
- Every single one of them said they supported single adoption and that's what ended up happening.
- Three said support the rec - whatever it was - of the MAC.
- Only one said she had experience with either curriculum and that was with enVision. None of the others mentioned looking at the materials or working with them.
I bring this up because at yesterday's Curriculum and Instruction meeting, Director Blanford called out Director Peters on her interpretation of the PASS letter. I think everyone could do well by really parsing the words in letters/communications before making a public statement.
Curriculum and Instruction Meeting (June 9th)
As I mentioned, it was not a kumbaya moment. The Superintendent seemed almost sullen.
Again, on waivers (via Michael Tolley):
- if your school has a waiver for something other than Math in Focus, you can continue using it (for the duration of your waiver). There are three schools that have an active waiver for enVision. It was not noted which ones.
- if your school is using something else without a waiver, that will end and you will be using Math in Focus.
- any school may apply for a waiver but there are five criteria in the policy plus determinations made by Executive Directors. One of those criteria is using the current math curriculum and finding it not working for your school community. Nearly every single school would fail this criteria because the overwhelming majority have not used Math in Focus and thus would fail this criteria.
Superintendent Banda said that for many principals this outcome "was unexpected." He said a number of schools wanted more info on a waiver and the staff spent time thinking about these requests and decided to pull back. He said there was to be a leadership meeting - already scheduled - today with principals and they would discuss (among other things) "how this landed." (I have attempted to get access to the math adoption portion of this meeting but no one will get back to me on my request. I would guess it is a no. I was going to offer to not quote any principal by name/school/region.)
Once again, Director Blanford was not prepared. He asked what the waiver criteria are. He asked if the criteria were "objective." Mr. Tolley said yes, in terms of expectations. President Peaslee said she and Director McLaren had written most of the waiver policy and had built into it that if the Superintendent denied a waiver, a school could still petition the Board.
I want to point that out because of this feeling that the majority vote of the Board somehow got their way. But the door is, and always has been open because of the work of Peaslee and McLaren.
President Peaslee said she felt that schools had not been encouraged to look at the top three. She said she felt like there was some attempt to "end run" around the Board. She said the waiver policy should not be used to undo the Board's final decision.
All the directors said they had many e-mails from concerned parents. Some felt that PASS was trying to subvert the democratic process. Some felt the work of the MAC had been undermined.
Director Blanford said that the principals said the process was sound and the MAC came up with a recommendation to follow. "But the Board chose not to pay attention and voted otherwise." He also stated that at the last C&I meeting that several principals had warned this could happen. (If they did, that warning should have been made clear to ALL principals. The process is the process and should have been clearly stated to everyone.)
Banda said that while there had been work this weekend by principals for BLT meetings that it was time to listen to principals and then come together and move forward. He said, "We can't continue on like this."
Director Peters, in response to Blanford saying the Board didn't listen, said that yes, all members of the Board did and took it seriously. She said it was confusing that PASS wanted a sole adoption (and following the MAC rec) but now that it isn't the curriculum they expected, they want the ability to by-pass the vote via the waiver process.
Blanford countered saying his e-mails didn't want dual adoption but wanted the MAC's rec "respected and honored." He said, this was "done by a group of Board members and not the whole Board."
My response to that is two-fold. One, there are sometimes going to be divided votes. Ask any elected official. You can certainly say that you didn't vote that way but you must, as an elected official, honor that vote. Two, that kind of language - in public - does not do much to create a good atmosphere for the work the Board is doing.
Peaslee said that Ron English told both the Board that they legally could adopt any math materials and that the Committee's rec was in no way binding. She pointed out that the Board adopted one of the top three contenders as chosen by the MAC.
Director McLaren did say that she "regretted" that the Board members pursuing an amendment had not spoken in-depth with staff on it.
That was the end of the discussion on the math adoption.
Separate thread to come on Advanced Learning.