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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Good Luck All You Future High Schoolers - Here Comes Discovery Math

Lots of good public testimony tonight on the high school math adoption but no, it went down as expected 4-3. Sherry was quite crisp and almost stern in her remarks, saying that the "experts" agreed that the research on best math materials is lacking, no books will work without supplements and a couple of other points she felt necessary. She did not change her vote and voted yes. Cheryl went on into principal mode and also gave a lecture. She voted yes. Steve mentioned the Times article and even agreed with their assessment (remember that for future reference) about the role of the Board. He voted yes. Harium gave some off-the-cuffs remarks but remained unconvinced. No from him. Peter Maier put the seal on the deal with his yes, saying the deadly, "It's important to move forward." (I knew someone would.) Mary Bass also gave some quiet remarks and stood by her no. Michael was, once again, quite eloquent (I thought he might be changing his vote), saying we don't have time and that inquiry-based math is "a noble experiment" but that it has not succeeded. He voted no.

I feel it's a sad day and as I said to Steve and Sherry in my e-mails, a 4-3 vote is no real vote of confidence on an issue as big as this one.

As one speaker noted, this is a great deal for Kaplan and other tutoring services.

In other news (I checked out about 9 o'clock), there was a question about whether the $750,000 allotted to expand Hamilton with music rooms would cover everything. The staff member said it was (wait for it)...a conservative estimate. Big surprise and watch that reserve in their fund deplete more. I hope there are no surprises in this project that is only 30% completed.

Lastly, Mary asked about money for the closing schools and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said they had accepted no "wish lists" but that they were moving forward with a process for accomodations. Look for accepting schools to not get what they need to help with incoming students.

95 comments:

BadgerGal said...

This makes me cry. And then I'm gonna pick myself up and figure out how to leave this district, be it by private school (not likely) or moving. My kids are only 7 and 3 so I've got time. But this is the last straw for me.

mom123 said...

As I lurk and read this is what I understand.

My husband and I were both the first of our families to complete college. We both qualified for FRL. As such, we value education. As such, we moved to the north of Seattle where all the stats and reports told us the best education was to be had.

As such, we are house poor and neighborhood rich. We work 60-80 hour weeks.

As such, we are facing...our children may not be able to attend neighborhood schools as we no longer qualify for FRL.

Basically, all of our efforts, all of our personal sacrifice to work through and pay for our own college education, all of our continued sacrifice to work and support our children, and our parents, and ourselves is not enough.

We will NEVER have a one hour tutorial for either parent on how to instruct/interpert Discovering. We will NEVER have a one hour 1:1 tutorial for any of our children.

Now. We should work more hours to pay for tutors to explain to our children how to spend thirty minutes to fold a piece of paper to truly 'discover' an isosceles triangle.

We are trapped. Our house has plummeted in value. Neighboring districts are cutting back. Our employment is uncertain.

Since we were teens we have worked as hard as we possibly can. Now it is seemingly all tossed away by politics.

SPS is a mixed district of crummy schools and excellent schools. If we were insane we would believe that the same old promises, but no accountability, and no change on behalf of families would produce better results. As it is we would likely be better off moving to an affordable rural community where we could afford a home and also private tutoring so that our children might have a true opportunity to succeed.

For now it is too much. Do we declare bankruptcy and move away? Do we stay true to our morals and keep fighting against seemingly impossible odds. I say Uncle. SPS - you have won.

Mirror said...

Outside of some academics, who wants this inquiry based insanity? This is a serious question.

Many nights my son and I struggle through his CMP math homework from Whitman. One of tonight's miseries was that it was once again clear that they have never been required to work equations systematically on a page and I got grumbly. (three years without a book containing an example of working an actual math problem) I had to explain to my son that I wasn't mad at him but he was going to have to make extra effort to learn to do math systematically in order to get through real science classes, that he needed to understand that just meeting to apparent requirements of the curriculum in front of him would leave him handicapped later on. It's not a fun thing for a kid to hear, but he's way more motivated on extra tutoring if he understands why.

If it wasn't for Kumon, he wouldn't be able to do any of his work independently.

dan dempsey said...

I testified and I listened.

I heard Mary Bass say essentially:
I did not read much or listen to the experts on either side. We have a horrible track record for math in this district. I've been told this matches well with k-8 materials. So I am voting NO.

I heard Steve Sundquist talk about NMAP but he must have had the electronic version of the NMAP report. It looked like he had searched for weasel language.

I say this because NMAP is all about Authentic Algebra and proper preparation for Authentic Algebra through the mastery of arithmetic especially fractions, decimals, and percents. Steve missed the core of NMAP. How did that happen?
Steve then voted for a "Pretend Algebra" book.

Recent Past president of the NCTM Skip Fennel in a conversation with NMAP panelist Vern Williams agreed that students should only take Algebra when they are ready for algebra ..... and they are ready when they have a firm grasp of arithmetic.

Since the SPS has neglected and continues to neglect arithmetic kids now get "Pretend Algebra" instead of NMAP recommended "Authentic Algebra".

Director Sundquist needs to work on "reading comprehension" instead of "cherry picking". Kids lose again... Families lose again.

Peter Maier was happy that kids would no longer have books where the math topics were all blended together because with this adoption it will be just algebra and then just geometry..... Did Peter even look at the Discovering Algebra book? because it is really short on Algebra... lots of probability, statistics, box plots, histograms, etc. A great manual for learning how to use the graphing calculator set the window use the trace function etc. ... Oh well maybe we can get the book Peter described in say ten more years at the next adoption... because Discovering Algebra is not it.

Sherry Carr wow!!! does anyone actually look at these books and if so what do they believe an algebra book is supposed to do?

Harium M-M and Michael DeBell look at the books and know what they are looking at ... defective instructional materials. Voted NO.

I found the OSPI presence at the meeting similar to a channeling of Terry Bergeson ... if you supported Randy Dorn as I did you might want to watch that presentation by Greta Bournemann on video streaming or Seattle TV .. because I think I may be having a spell of buyer's remorse over my Dorn vote and support.

Ted Nutting and I are thinking of coming back in our walkers to testify at the next high school adoption in ten years.

So there you have it. I did not think that the SPS could top the ignorance exhibited in the EDM adoption. A known duo of failure in Denver EDM - Connected math .. the SPS just had to have it.

Now we have a known failure from San Diego that is rated as mathematically unsound by the State Board of Education adopted for student use.

On the bright side the EDM vote was 7-0 while this bizarre adoption was 4-3 but the damage to kids will still occur.

It appears the Broad Foundation plan for charter schools is well underway. Install MG-J ... make her a Broad Foundation director ... make the Seattle schools so bad .. huge numbers will want charters as most any solution would be better than this bizarro math adoption.

Oh I forgot to mention Cheryl Chow. She voted YES and she is the only director up for election this summer to vote yes. Need I say more.

beansa said...

This vote is so disappointinig. I really thought at least one of the yes-voters would reconsider. The arguments against this adoption were so valid.

My kid is only in first grade, but we are considering buying the Saxon books and teaching her at home. We live near North Beach and might try to enroll her there for thrid grade. I also started researching private schools this week.

Can we organize a protest? I would like to pull my kid out of EDM classes and just have her do something else during that time. She loves math, but she told me that all they do in math class is count pennies.

Sigh. Charlie, will you run?

anonymous said...

OK, so what can my family do now? How can we supplement Discovering in a meaningful way? Personally, I can't do it, I just don't have the skills. I was able to tutor my son through MS, but I will not be able to keep up with HS algebra. So what to do? Tutors, Kumon? Should I just buy some books that he can work on at home home, (that I won't be able to check because I don't have the skills)? What?

How can I have him prepared for college level math and science b the time he graduates. He's going into 9th grade this fall.

Any help or advice is appreciated.

Charlie Mas said...

I thought I heard something last night about a reference guide supplement for the Key Curriculum books. Did anyone else hear that?

This fight is over. What we need to do now is face forward. Going forward our task will be to demand the fulfillment of all of the promises around the implementation. We must demand the supports that were promised including the supplemental materials, the professional development, and the community outreach. We must demand that the teachers be free to choose direct instruction over inquiry.

The first step is to demand the implementation of the Singapore Math supplements in our elementary schools.

The next step is to demand that teachers in elementary and middle schools be free to choose their pedagogy - inquiry or direct instruction. I don't believe that they have that freedom now.

The third step is to go to our schools and demand the use of more direct instruction in math. Do not accept "fidelity of implementation" as an excuse. The Board, the superintendent, the chief academic officer and the head of the math department have all been very clear that the District does not dictate pedagogy. We need them to make those statements true.

The fourth step is to work for waivers that will allow schools to choose texts other than the District-approved texts. Schools will have to win this rightwith the earned autonomy they gain through the performance management system. Find out what criteria the school needs to meet to gain that freedom and then strive to meet it. It may mean offering math classes before or after school to supplement the classroom instruction with real math.

There is a lot of work that can be done starting now.

Jet City mom said...

Seriously,
I enrolled my younger daughter in the Greenwood Kumon program- for about 3 years ( through middle school). She has a disability which qualified her for an IEP, however the school program did not address it and they did not show she was making any progress in her mathematical knowledge in elementary school, so for middle school I felt forced to look elsewhere.

We chose Kumon after research and trying private tutoring and other local offerings.
While Kumon is very structured, the teacher in Greenwood was flexible and was able to make the program work for my daughter despite her learning differences.
I would recommend it- particulary over programs like Sylvan which I found to be expensive and not knowledgable about learning differences.

We are a blue collar- education & income family, but we found this important enough to spend our hard won income on ( well future income anyway)

Unfortunately, despite my daughters IEP that specified she needed individualized math instruction & despite that we were forced to look outside the district for assistance, the district- namely Wolverton and Corker-Curry did not agree that we needed to do so, and we were not even partially reimbursed.

My older daughter, with similar math challenges, attended private school, and was able to make good progress without tutoring.
docs.moodle.org/en/User:Gary_Anderson

Whether it be private school or tutoring- it is likely that many successful students in the area will need the support of one or the other- not just in Seattle.

Good luck

ParentofThree said...

I heard that about supplemental materials from Sundquist.

SolvayGirl said...

Well, all I can say is that our decision to continue our daughter in an independent school for high school has been validated. She struggled with math in SPS elementary—passed the WASLs, but only with average grades. She hated math and homework took forever.

After 3 years in an independent MS, she zips through her math homework and has an A in TRADITIONAL Algebra. She likes math, understands it well, and is looking forward to starting with Geometry in her freshman year of high school. That's a huge accomplishment for a kid who would prefer to be drawing, reading, playing an instrument or singing.

My husband and I will continue to support public education—as we did before we had children. But we cannot risk our only child's future on the thin hope that SPS will turn around from its present course.

zb said...

"Outside of some academics, who wants this inquiry based insanity? This is a serious question."

I like it. But, our experience is in elementary school, and in a private school where the teachers are good and the children very capable. I cannot tell whether it would work for others, but for us it's a bonus, not a negative; I feel like they're really learning math, and not a series of math-related facts.

dan dempsey said...

What is needed is the freedom to teach the standards, which the directors claim is the curriculum.
Currently with EDM use no evidence is present that the standards are the focus of the curriculum. The Standards need to be the curriculum k-12 and they are not.

Charlie said:
The next step is to demand that teachers in elementary and middle schools be free to choose their pedagogy - inquiry or direct instruction. I don't believe that they have that freedom now.Teachers have the freedom to follow the EDM pacing guide or get a letter of reprimand.

What you saw last night was a rejection of the NMAP recommendations ... the EDM failure to teach standard algorithms was already a rejection of the NCTM focal points ...
This enables the Colleges of Education to maintain their stranglehold on Children's education.

Charlie is right these district folks will never be accountable to perform adequately without guidance from active parents.

Making it so the teacher only has to teach the WA math Standards is a great idea... but remember when EDM came ... all other materials were removed from classrooms.

The Discovering Book is a "Pretend Algebra" book. So somehow a parent needs to be able to get their kids to learn authentic algebra.

Paul Dunham of
mathunderground.net

will be preparing guides to help parents do this. He is ordering a Discovering Algebra Teachers edition as I type.

This will be an on line guide to teaching Authentic Algebra when you are saddled with the district adopted "pretend algebra" book.

If the Standards are the curriculum and you can limit the class to that there will be a chance to learn authentic algebra.

That is Paul's plan.
He is a Master of Mechanical Engineering and a certificated math teacher.

Good Luck parents.

ds said...

Here are links to Discovering's supplemental materials (including the "condensed lessons"):

Albebra: http://www.keypress.com/x4540.xml

Geometry: http://www.keypress.com/x19356.xml

Alg II: not available yet, but previous edition link is http://www.keypress.com/x3098.xml

ParentofThree said...

ZB - the way a class is taught, inquiry v. direct teaching, is really not the main issue here, it's the materials that students will now have will not:
1) cover everthing they they need to enroll in college math classes
2) serve a a good reference when it is 10pm and a student is trying to figure something out.

That was the argument for Prentice-Hall, it was complete and it served as a good reference at home, which is what both Harium and Michael were looking for. I think that got lost in the "math wars" debate.

anonymous said...

"I thought I heard something last night about a reference guide supplement for the Key Curriculum books. Did anyone else hear that?"

The only thing that I heard about supplemental material was from Director Sundquist. In his comment of intent to vote in favor of Discovering he said something to the effect of learning does not only happen at school, it happens around the kitchen table in your home too, and since the Discovering Series was not a good "reference" text, he wants to see appropriate supplementation.

That's a nice sentiment - but not backed by any promise of action.

I heard nothing from anybody else including Ms. Delafuente and her team regarding supplementation - did I miss something?

anonymous said...

"I had to explain to my son that I wasn't mad at him but he was going to have to make extra effort to learn to do math systematically in order to get through real science classes, that he needed to understand that just meeting to apparent requirements of the curriculum in front of him would leave him handicapped later on."

This sentence terrifies me. It terrifies me because my math skills are such that I don't even recognize that "meeting the requirements of the curriculum in front of him would leave him handicapped later on". I assume that if my son does his homework and gets good grades that he is doing well, and will be prepared for higher level math, and college. Then when I hear statements such as the statement above, it makes me freeze, and wonder if my child won't be prepared even though he is doing "well" in math.

I'm really really tired of second guessing my child's education.

And there is no rest for the weary, now we are moving on to LA standardization.....

dan dempsey said...

Dear ZB,

You may well be correct.

No matter what grade your child is in k-12. Go to Singapore math and download a placement test and get an accurate analysis of what your child knows by internationally competitve standards.

Here is your link:
http://www.singaporemath.com/Placement_s/12.htm What text series are being used for your children?

It is astounding how well and how much mathematics is covered in grades 3,4,5 in Singapore math.

After grade 6 Singapore primary materials, Algebra is simple.

dan dempsey said...

adhoc said:The only thing that I heard about supplemental material was from Director Sundquist. In his comment of intent to vote in favor of Discovering he said something to the effect of learning does not only happen at school, it happens around the kitchen table in your home too, and since the Discovering Series was not a good "reference" text, he wants to see appropriate supplementation.

That's a nice sentiment - but not backed by any promise of action.
Wait isn't this the micro-management that Director Sundquist is opposed to? He can make no such request for he is a policy maker not a manager.

It is your job as a consumer to get appropriate action as the board members are only policy makers.

If Director Sundquist found something inadequate he should have made this known on April 8 or April 22 so that the adoption plan could have been submitted in a satisfactory form for his approval.
He approved it anyway.

It appears that he has approved a plan with particular deficits but it is now out of his hands. He has selected the instructional materials as policy requires and now he can watch the water flow under the bridge while his constituents are up the creek without a paddle.

another mom said...

See Director DeBell's thoughtful comment on cliffmass.blogspot.com

One speaker who spoke favorably about the Discovery Series described it as an egalitarian approach to mathematics. What?

Melissa Westbrook said...

That "egalitarian" remark struck me as well. When I complained awhile back when my son was in middle school, a district math coach told me the inquiry method was "math for kids who don't like math". My answer was, "What about kids who do like math?" He laughed (but I was serious).

The answer is, of course, that kids are different learners and no one method IS going to work for all. But I would have liked books that teachers and experts would have said, "Not perfect but with supplements, it'll be fine." There were too many voices of dissent to make people feel good about this series. I still contend that a 4-3 vote is no vote of confidence.

I wish someone on the board had rung up someone in San Diego and asked why they abandoned this program.

dan dempsey said...

adhoc said:
It terrifies me because my math skills are such that I don't even recognize that "meeting the requirements of the curriculum in front of him would leave him handicapped later on". I assume that if my son does his homework and gets good grades that he is doing well, and will be prepared for higher level math, and college.Make no such assumption.. the remediation rates are staggering for math upon college entrance.
Use the previously mentioned Singapore placement tests. At WSHS we had students who had failed the math WASL and were unable to pass the Singapore grade 2 placement test. (This explains my continual persistence about following the promotion/non-promotion policies of the SPS in regard to effective interventions) (These are written Board Policies that the Directors apparently could not care less as to whether thay are followed or not.)

Our state's thrust is to have everyone take and pass Geometry and Algebra. This led Seattle to adopt "Pretend Algebra" and "Pseudo Geometry". The quality of many of students in Algebra class will be extremely weak in some schools as it will include mathematically unskilled students with a deficient knowledge of arithmetic. Ditto many in Geometry.

This is the law of unintended consequences.
1) Raise the requirements so that better prepared students will graduate.

2) In so doing the quality and caliber of the required courses declines to such an extent that those who graduate are less prepared.

Fortunately in the SPS the students are so unprepared now it cannot get any worse.

(As an aside I received a Communication from a long time Geometry teacher in LAUSD .. she mentioned that the quality of geometry students had declined enormously (when Geometry became required for graduation) so it was no longer possible to teach real Geometry. She said Discovering Geometry was a reasonable textbook given the conditions ... she has been using it for a while.)

hschinske said...

Oh, crap. I cannot be polite about this. It is one big bag of stupid.

Helen Schinske

North End Mom said...

I have not seen either the Discovery Series or Prentice Hall texts, so I can't make any direct comments about them. However, after reading comments from those who have stated that there will be a need for additional supplementation and/or tutoring with adoption of the Discovery Series, one of the issues that concerns me is the possible financial impact of the math adoption decision.

I heard that the Title 1 funding eligibilty percentage was raised this year (from 40% free/reduced lunch up to 55%) so that those funds could be used to cover the costs of outside tutoring for students who qualify for reimbursement of their outside tutoring expenses. As a result, several schools lost eligibilty for Title 1 funding.

The Board has just approved a HS math adoption plan which will require additional supplementation and parents will likely look for help from outside tutors, such as Kumon, Sylvan, etc... Many of these families will no doubt qualify for reimbursement.

Doesn't it follow that there will be additional impacts to schools which currently receive Title 1 funds? Could Title 1 support for many schools (elementary, etc...) disappear due to a high school curriculum adoption?

zb said...

Thanks Dan. I will test what my kids know of the Singapore math series. But, it's not definitive, right? I know that my kids know some things that are not on that test, and might, perhaps, not know some things that are on that test. It'll be interesting to see what that overlap is. I won't consider Singapore Math to be the gold standard, though. The key test for me would be to train people using the two text books, and then have then test kids with the other method.

Why do I think this? because I think that "math" instead of "math facts" is what we need to approach most problems in science/engineering/and the world, and the critical skill there is to crack a new problem, not the one that looks like the one you've already been taught.

Adhoc was chilled by the statement that the method wouldn't his/her kids wouldn't have the right math and he/she wouldn't be able to tell. But, adhocs worries about his/her math skills are precisely why I fear that "traditional" math teaching fails our kids. I know lots and lots of adults who made it through geometry, or algebra, or even calculus, but who don't know those things any more. Things I consider simple, fundamental, and unforgettable (like, the whole equal sides means equal angles for triangles). I think teaching math as a series of rules increases the probability that people will forget the rules when they don't need to do the problems to pass a test anymore.

(BTW, singapore math seems OK to me, so I'm not dissing it as a teaching methodology. But, I also thought the 8th grade WASL was reasonable, when everyone was complaining about it).

Mirror said...

On "reference". My conclusion based on struggling with CMP for 3 years is that for those creating texts with this philosophy, the absence of "reference" material is not an inadvertant omission, but in fact is an intentional element of the system.

This "egalitarian" argument is one of the disgusting techniques the proponents of these systems use to counter attacks on the disjointed rudderless nature of the method, as if somehow these approaches are benefiting the poor and the learning disabled when in reality the opposite is true. This referenceless "find your own enlightenment" approach is especially cruel to those with learning disabilities or from families with less education. Arguing the opposite is an attempt to sow self-doubt and/or guilt in the minds of involved, but well-meaning, middle class parents.

zb said...

PS: I'm actually not weighing in on the specific texts being discussed here, since I don't know them. I'm arguing in favor of the methodology, "inductive"/"inquiry" based teaching and learning. I'm also not certain that it can work in every environment, and I don't know if the best we can do in some environments is merely teaching kids a bunch of rules and calling it math. So, I'm not knowledgeable enough to weigh in substantively in this discussion, but I fear a return to the traditional methods of the old days, which I don't believe have served us particularly well, since I believe the level of math literacy in the adult population is abysmal.

SolvayGirl said...

KUOW will be discussing the Math Textbooks on The Conversation at noon today – Thursday.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa,
Mike DeBell did ring them up.But like Dude ... I mean who of the four "YES" votes would even care what could be found out? Those four were searching for all kinds reasons to vote "YES" most of which made no sense. Melissa you are expecting a search for truth. Fat Chance of that.

One reason was the San Diego ELL fiasco. Books with lots of words and not enough practice with numbers. Not just mathematically unsound but for ELL and many others instructionally unsound.

The California tests do test arithmetic skills and real algebra.
It remains to be seen as to whether OSPI plans to do this type of testing or not. Given that all of TB's holdovers are still at OSPI do not make any plans on real math being tested by OSPI.

It you look at the "Pretend Algebra" books it is quite apparent the disadvantaged learners and sharp kids also will have little chance of learning the Authentic Algebra that has become the basis for thinking and advancement in higher math classes. If the district develops a suitable plan or teachers can be left to their own devices to teach the standards we may have a reasonable program. More likely is teachers will be forced to cover all the other "non-algbra" and/or "non-standards" related baloney packed into "Discovering Algebra".

Luckily SPS college entrance remediation rates and other deficiencies are so alarmingly high, this adoption with accompanying efforts may actually be a slight improvment. But it sure will not be what could have been .... but that would have required leaders rather than politicians and we were one short last night.

dan dempsey said...

Dear ZB,

Do not worry the thrust is for internationally competitive mathematics as taught in the most successful nations of the world. This presentation of mathmematics looks nothing like what is being done in the USA now or ever.You could spend less than $20 and get a Singpore Text and Workbook at any grade level k-6 for a look&see. Try Challenging Word Problems grade 5 or 6 for problems that many Singapore kids can solve without algebra. Many of these problems will leave SPS pre-Calc & calc kids puzzled and unable to find solutions.

Mirror said...

ZB:

I'm not against inductive/inquiry methods. Its just that that once the enlightenment of the nature of the math rule is achieved, most learners need repetitions on its use and some help organizing the storage of the knowledge in their mental filing cabinet, followed by more challenging applications. In classes with 30-35 students moving forward ona prescribed schedule, the use of text/systems with very little repetition of basic knowledge and a concious antipathy toward explicit organization of the knowledge gained, ultimate poor results can easily be predicted.

I figure the CMP2 books my son has been using in middle school should have maybe 6 students maximu per teacher to be used the way they are designed. And that would still need a lot supplemental repetition work to get it to sink in. But I sometimes think the authors of CMP2 think the middle school student audience they are writing for have photographic memories or they don't really believe in retention of detailed kowledge at all.

Rose M said...

Supplementing or tutoring or calculation drill will only take us so far. My kids are tired of doing math at school & then math at home. I want to pull them out of school for math. But they are much more motivated in a class setting. I wish there were a math school in our neighborhood.

rugles said...

Took a look at a sample chapter of Discovering Algebra...

http://www.keypress.com/x5265.xml

I must have been out sick the day my algebra teacher went over recursive routines. The book makes it seem that it comes with a calculator, is that really the case?

Kids definitely will come away from this with a better idea of how tall the Empire State Building is. But it's going to be hard on cynical parents.

ParentofThree said...

Some gems from Chapter 3:

Investigation: Fish in the Lake
Activity: The Wheels Go Round and Round
Activity: Tying Knots

and my favorite:
Investigation: TFDSFU DPEFT

Anybody care to take a stab at what is being taught here?

Well I think recursive routines. I googled that term and was taken right to the Key Press site. Poked around there for awhile and could not find the defination.

A few sites down I got to this site, thefreedictionary.com and found a defination:


Noun 1. recursive routine - a routine that can call itself
subprogram, subroutine, procedure, routine, function - a set sequence of steps, part of larger computer program.


I am sick to my stomach.

beansa said...

"I think teaching math as a series of rules increases the probability that people will forget the rules when they don't need to do the problems to pass a test anymore."I was in high school from 1987 - 1991, and our math was taught traditionally, but I don't remember it as being "a series of rules."

Our teachers made sure to answer the question "what are we going to use this for?" and to work through real-world application problems with us. I recall being challenged to think logically, using the facts we'd learned to figure out what the next step might be and to explain why. We also did a lot of practice problems and had books with clear examples.

Twenty years later, upon my return to college I find these concepts are still located in my brain, however rustily. I needed my math skills refreshed, but I didn't have to learn it all from scratch.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think "traditional math" has to just be rote memorization of facts. But maybe I just had really good math teachers.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That example chapter is for 8th-10th grade math and it has the students arranging toothpicks into shapes and drawing pictures of pennies balancing on scales?

OK, my kid is only in kindergarten, but this strikes me as really setting the bar low. I can't picture her needing to arrange pennies and cups on a scale to understand linear equations when she's 12 or 14 years old. Am I way off here?

ds said...

Prentice Hall, which has been dubbed "traditional math," is definitely not just rote memorization and drilling. There are many explanations, real world problems, and even "investigations." Of course it doesn't make any difference now, but what most anti-Discovering folks have been arguing is that SPS kids need a textbook that can be used as a reference. Prentice Hall can be used as a reference; Discovering cannot.

This is all so very disappointing, especially because the public's wishes were very clear.

I'm hoping SPS can make this work, but the problem is that they will have to do a lot more work than they would have had to do otherwise to make it a success. More work = more money, something that seems to be in short supply these days.

Megan Mc said...

Beansa,

We should look at asking AS#1 to provide an alternative Saxon math class next year for students who are unsuccessful with EDM. If we had parents volunteer daily, they may be able to offer it to all grade levels and set up ability level groupings instead of grade level groupings.

Sue said...

Can we vote to recall Cheryl Chow Sherry Carr, Peter Maier and Steve Sundquist?

just "inquiring"

TechyMom said...

Meagan MC, if you offered that Saxon class after school and opened it to kids from other schools, it might help with your effort to recruit more families to AS1. Just a thought...

Dorothy Neville said...

You know how when parents don't clearly explain sex in an age appropriate yet thorough way, kids will pick up information from playmates? Remember how accurate that information was?


What I am finding with my tutees, one 6th grader in particular, is that because she isn't being taught the algorithms, she's learning them on the playground. Wanna guess on the accuracy of her learning?

So now she's fighting me, because I am contradicting what she *knows*. In sixth grade, they are doing decimals in a real world way, taking discounts and adding tax. So for a 20% discount, she insisted that one multiplies the price by 1.2. Insisted. That's what she was told to do! No, she couldn't tell me why, she was just told it. At first she insisted her teacher told her. But eventually she said it was another student who told her.

I got her to agree that the discounted price ought to be less than the starting price, yes? OK. So if the item cost $5, if you multiply that by 1.2, you get $6. Hmm, then that says something is wrong. Well, she replied, but the question wasn't on a five dollar item, it's on $52, so my example didn't prove anything.

I am all for inquiry, for inductive reasoning and all that. I want kids to grow in their understanding of mathematics. I do not see that happening with CMP. Not at all. The text means well, but the lack of organization, the lack of summary, of conclusion and ensuring that the students understand. It all adds up to a frustrating waste of time.

Oh. And tax. Well, the problem states tax is 6.5%. So she took $41 and happily multiplied it by 1.65 and got $67 and didn't bat an eye. No clue that the answer didn't make sense. So I tried some mental math, some logical thinking. What about a ten percent tax? About how much would a ten percent tax on $41 dollars be? Yes, she could see "about four dollars" was a reasonable answer. So 6.5 percent tax would be less than four bucks, yes? Ah. She agreed. But when I helped her see that she needed to multiply by 1.065 instead, she just glowered at me as she erased her work to start again. Her anger at the stupidity of math is increasing. And she is not a stupid child. She did quite well in math in elementary school. Yet she has no clue what 4x7 is, what a prime is, how you can tell if a number is divisible by 2.

Mirror, you are completely correct. The texts absolutely withhold the reference materials on purpose. It is part of the philosophy.

north seattle mom said...

My school is also considering switching texts. Does anyone have any insight into how north beach did this and how much it cost? I fear this math adoption will really lead to the schools that have enough money to buy their way out and those that can't.

dan dempsey said...

Here is the Truth of the entire adoption process.
1.) The committee selction process was rigged to produce an outcome of an Inquiry Discovery text book.
2.) Discovering Series is so bad it almost lost out to Prentice Hall.

3.) All kinds of ridiculous reasons were presented to justify this selection but the truth is:
a) 19 out of 19 prinincipals support their boss. Company Men support Company Plan. This is no news.
b) Four Directors do not support you because they only support company plans no matter how flawed. This one is incredibly flawed. The reasons presented for this postivie adoption vote by the Fab Four bordered on the absurd.---- As Charlie has indicated many times ... to believe this group is ever going to represent your wishes above the Superintendent's wishes is just not going to happen.Substitute Charlie Mas for Cheryl Chow and a reasonable decision would have occurred.
----------------
It is now apparent to me that Randy Dorn is a politician (no suprise there) who is planning on leaving all of TB's math folks intact and the UW College of Education/destruction is now free to continue dispensing math disaster to Seattle just as they have done over the last decade.
--------------

dan dempsey said...

Can we vote to recall Cheryl Chow Sherry Carr, Peter Maier and Steve Sundquist?

just "inquiring"
What I remember from last time is they must be recalled individually not as a group. I do not remember the form or if malfeasance and/or misfeasance is required for the recall.

I am thinking that misfeasance and/or malfeasance is required and these folks are clean on that front ... so the answer is likely no they can not be recalled.

Sure hope I am wrong on that opinion.

dan dempsey said...

My school is also considering switching texts. Does anyone have any insight into how north beach did this and how much it cost? North Beach did this when Niki Hayes was principal. Niki was a driving force.

This was before the MG-J led thrust to standardize everything.

Good Luck on this.

Singapore is the cheapest option in terms of books but actually requires math competent individuals as teachers. To begin teaching 5th grade material the teacher will need to know Singapore grades 1-4 material. That is learning a whole lot of math for many teachers.

Saxon is the easier to use from a teacher stand point.

zb said...

OK, I went and took the Singapore math 6B test, just to see what I thought. And, I could do all the problems (I should hope so, if this is supposed to be 6th grade math). But, they were boring as dirt, puzzles, maybe fun for some (I don't like doing sodoku, either), but not what I think of as math (and, which I do, on a daily basis).

(and, in contrast with the 8th grade WASL, which asked what felt like meaning ful questions).

Anyone else want to take the challenge, and do the problems? I found it frustrating that there was number crunching involved (though they made most of the numbers work out reasonably well, any problem that tells me to use 3.14 as the value of pi is going to get my dander up a bit -- I'd much rather they ask for the answers in units of pi-centimeters. As far as the math is concerned, it's just as reasonable to tell me to use 3 or 4 as the value of pi, as to use 3.14)

So, just set up the problems, and make sure you know how to solve them. They're repetitive, and there are basically only 4 problems there -- all the rest are simple transformations.

I can't speak to pedagogy, only outcome. Dorothy's tu-tee is exhibiting exactly the behavior that I'd find frustrating, but my understanding was that these "discovery" ideas were supposed to help kids realize that a number can't get bigger after you apply a discount. I don't know that it does (i.e no knowledge of pedagogy). But, if we're going to wade into the wars, we should at least know what the problems are. So, go take the 6th grade Singapore Math test:

http://www.singaporemath.com/Placement_Test_s/86.htm

(and, I still like the wasl questions better)

zb said...

"But when I helped her see that she needed to multiply by 1.065 instead"

How did you help her see that? I mean, other than telling her to multiply by 1.065 instead? I ask, because I think this is the fundamental question. I'm disappointed if this math textbook doesn't teach a child to navigate the problem you described, but do the other text books really do that? What's the evidence that the Prentice Hall books perform better (as opposed to being more in alignment with how the parents learned math)?

Dorothy Neville said...

"How did you help her see that?"

I reminded her of percents, that it's out of 100, so you move the decimal place twice. The thing is, this showed a secondary issue. She did know that. But because she lacks arithmetic fluency, she's likely to make these sorts of errors and they just interfere with any further understanding. You must develop fluency in order to build on the knowledge. If one is not solid in factoring, one is going to find using the distributive property in algebra a nightmare.

See, my example with this particular girl is the same sort of thing I encounter with other students and what I hear from parents. That the particular implementation of inquiry based math is not working as intended in general. Sure, some teachers may be doing a great job with it, but that's the exception. Way too often the kids are confused. That there is such an emphasis on guessing and intuition, kids don't see the patterns, don't develop the logic. It's not working.

Inquiry is great, we must have inquiry, we must drive conceptual understanding. But we cannot do that without better structure, better rigor on the basics.

Keeping pi as a separate unit requires an understanding of symbolic manipulation. I do not know about Singapore, but in the US materials I have seen, they don't try to get the kids to that level of abstraction until middle school at the earliest.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a key point that was mentioned here that I want to extract for scrutiny.

Of the four Board directors who voted to approve this adoption, not one of them based their decision on the books they were approving. They all four claimed that they based their vote on the validity of the process. In fact, they pointedly refused to consider the quality of the books at all. It was not germaine to their voting decision.

In short, not one Board member approves of these books.

ParentofThree said...

In short, not one Board member approves of these books.

Yes, that is my read, with the exception of Sherry Carr as she did refer to the materials and said she liked her tutoring session.

Other than that they supported the process; it was a good process. They support Dr. G-J; she has a background in education, they trust the principals. They are not to second guess district decisions.

And there is no research to support any teaching methods, and if there is we are to ignore it.

dan dempsey said...

Let us not for a moment forget how the stacking of this adoption committee happened.

http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-to-stack-and-adoption-committee.html

dan dempsey said...

For high school catch the Vashon Ferry


CAMAS Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2010
CHEHALIS Traditional - Prentice Hall
CHENEY Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 9-11 Years 2009
COLFAX Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2012
COLUMBIA (STEVENS) Traditional - Prentice Hall
CRESTON Traditional - Prentice Hall
ENDICOTT Traditional - Prentice Hall
FIFE Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 9-11 Years 2010
LAKE CHELAN Traditional - Prentice Hall
MOSES LAKE Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2010
ONALASKA Traditional - Prentice Hall
ORTING Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2012
PORT TOWNSEND Traditional - Prentice Hall
RAYMOND Traditional - Prentice Hall As Needed 2013
SHELTON Traditional - Prentice Hall
SNOQUALMIE VALLEY Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2012
TACOMA Traditional - Prentice Hall As Needed 2015
TOLEDO Traditional - Prentice Hall Every 6-8 Years 2017
UNIVERSITY PLACE Traditional - Prentice Hall As Needed 2011
VASHON ISLAND Traditional - Prentice Hall
LONGVIEW Traditional - Prentice Hall & Discovering

Dorothy Neville said...

Time to move forward and hold the staff accountable to the Theory of Action promises. In addition to the ones Charlie got from the presentation, there's the DVD to help parents with this math text and there's the outside firm that will be hired to do surveys and focus groups to see how well the series is working.

Benchmarks, data, consequences. Let's stay focused on getting what was promised along with the brand new texts. Unlike the Singapore promises, these were taped and available for all to witness, both now and in the future. April 22 meeting, Theory of Action. Don't forget it.

dan dempsey said...

More on the recall idea. There may be substantive issues on which all the board members could be recalled.

School Board policy clearly states (I believe as I haven't gone searching yet) that actions must be first introduced at one meeting before action can be taken at the next meeting or a subsequent meeting.

The only exception is in an emergency situation.

All seven board members voted a 7-0 slam dunk to extend MG-J's contract an additional year and raise her salary 10%. At a school board meeting that served as Introduction and action. This was a clear violation of school board policy. No the Board did not have an inadvertent mistake. Chris Jackins and Charlie Mas pointed out in testimony at this meeting that what they were doing was illegitimate because it violated board policy.

I think this would probably pass the misfeasance test and thus all seven could be recalled but again this is a one by one recall of individuals.
------------------
I think a restraining order prohibiting the district from receiving the materials would be an interesting idea.The district in math has demonstrated disregard for many minority students and other disadvantaged learners. This has gone on for a decade+. Easy to show the continually going achievement gap on WASL math grades 4, 7, 10. The district is continuing with discriminatory practices with the adoption of math materials that fail to serve disadvantaged students properly. See San Diego data.

thoughts?

dan dempsey said...

North Seattle Mom said...

My school is also considering switching texts. Does anyone have any insight into how north beach did this and how much it cost?I have a short three page document by Niki Hayes (NB Principal from 2000-2004) describing the information you seek.

write me at dempsey_dan@yahoo.com
and I will send it to you.

Dan

ParentofThree said...

Great post by Cliff Mass at his blog.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2009/05/tragedy-in-seattle.html

Read the comments closely!

dan dempsey said...

recall effort of January 2007

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/298167_recall03.html

dan dempsey said...

See page 3 and page 5 in this document:
http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/publishernoticesMathematics.aspx and 4 directors voted for this...
linear equations unsound
quadratic equations unsound
triangle sum theorem unsound

Overall rating Unacceptable

Did Greta Bournemann of OSPI inform or lobby? Was that my tax dollars at work misleading the public?

WenD said...

Dan, I've asked before, but do you, does anyone, know how many students, by grade, are tutored in math? How many parents pay for private tutoring?

I don't see a solution via recalls. The train has left the station. What's clear is that more students will probably need tutors. Instead of charting 4-5 years of academic wreckage, how can these numbers be collected quickly and presented now, making a case that SPS better be able to cash that check for supplementation? If they deny tutoring, can a student sue SPS?

Add me to the list of parents who see their kids frustrated not with math, but with math instruction. And equally frustrated with materials that intentionally avoid answering questions. There can be no "trust the system" within a system this evasive. We learn everything via discovery, but mastery of skills isn't random. IME, Discovery Math is totally out of balance, and my kids love to learn by doing. They should be pleased, but they're not. And I'm tired of being the backstop.

Don't go north or to the east, expecting to find relief. Northshore, Shoreline, Edmonds, Lake WA and Bellevue have the same curricula.

The saddest part of this latest fiasco is that schools thrive when parents are involved. So where's the buy in? How much more are we supposed to do before we bill the district for tutoring? If my husband (aka Math Dad), is doing more than 10-15 minutes of kitchen table math, this tells us that something didn't happen in school that was supposed to happen over the course of 5-6 hours a week.

Our teachers supplement, but some do it better than others. If you're adopting a book with the promise of work arounds, it's already DOA. So what's really going on? Who benefits?

Buying into curricula with known flaws is tantamount to denying students full opportunity to an education, isn't it?

Don't recall. Sue.

dan dempsey said...

I like Charlie's idea of waivers...
I think it would be a good idea to go for a waiver right now.

The district is requiring parents to place their children in an instructionally disabling environment.

Don't wait for your child to be crippled .. get a waiver .. get an IEP get something.

If in fact the curriculum is the state standards great then get a class with a teacher teaching the algebra standards with Prentice Hall.

dan dempsey said...

dear WenG,

Cliff Mass said tutoring costs are up 370% from ten years ago.

The legislature had some numbers on this I believe. I will see what I can find.

wseadawg said...

Watch that Broad Connection closely. These billionaire philanthropists didn't get that way by being nice. They all love charters, chancellors and mayoral control, but hate unions, school boards and parents! The skids are being greased for privatization of public schools. Time to wake up people.

dan dempsey said...

Seattle has chosen "Pretend Algebra" and will be using the Discovering Series to disable the children in mathematics for about the next 10 years.

How did Director Sundquist pick two excerpts from the National Math Advisory Panel report and miss its call for "Authentic Algebra"?...... we have been had.

Jet City mom said...

Time to wake up people.Time to wake up people?

Cost over runs are through the roof.
Fewer students attend public school in Seattle than in almost any other large city
( except San Francisco)
Depressing graduation rate- despite average education and income of Seattle residents
Academic competency - especially in mathematics is poor according to UW profs and SPS own teachers.
Accountability is the buzzword of the minute with ZERO evidence it means anymore than the last buzzword.

Parents who can are already tutoring their kids to make up for what they are not learning in the classroom, parents who can't are paying for private tutors, parents who can't supplement or pay for tutoring are watching their kids struggle and continue to struggle.

With years of the above in Seattle public schools- watching our taxes rise so high some are forced to move or lose their home- we have been told that our taxes are just not high enough to provide our kids with a decent education , while the superintendent receives almost $100,000 than our state governor and those who don't know what accountability means are taken out of the school buildings to " collaborate" with the other stumblebums making six figures.

When you need to be frugal as many in the city and the world are finding even more necessary in these past months- you make cutbacks and analyze spending- you don't keep raising expenses because it is " someone else's money".

wseadawg said...

Of all the directors, I am most disappointed with Sundquist. He should know better, but abdicated his responsibility on this one. Kissing butt to the almighty process is a mockery of his responsibilities.

From listening to the Board since they got back from their San Diego Conference, it would seem they were all brainwashed or had a microchip implanted in their brains which directs them not to challenge anything the district staff does, as that "is not their job" or "role as board members." Someone needs to ask them, "then what in the hell is your job?" If choosing the correct curriculum to be taught in the classroom is not their paramount duty (aside from approving cost overrun payments to contractors), then what is?

I'm calling out Carr and Maier as chicken littles for their "we must do something" and "time to move ahead" comments. I have yet to hear Maier ask an intelligible question at any board meeting, or follow up on a response, no matter how unresponsive or irrelevant it is to his questions.

Carr is flat out unqualified. Her math vote, and so-called reasoning is a joke. She is the biggest chicken little on the board, and she has shown a lack of curiosity, lack of concern, and lack of depth demonstrated by rationalization after rationalization for her decisions, as opposed to sincere thought and reasoning. She is constantly overwhelmed by matters before the board and appears that she has not done her homework.

As for Chow, the Seattle City Charter must guarantee her lifetime public employment. No other reason makes sense. A complete waste of a board seat.

TechyMom said...

So, here's the thing...
SPS seems only to be interested in teaching the WASL subjects of reading and math. And they don't do a good job of math. What are kids doing for those 6 hours a day?

My child will start K in the fall. We have been accepted to a private school, and are waiting to see what our placement will be for SPS before finalizing our decision. At this point, however, I'm questioning whether spending 6 hours a day in an SPS school is just a waste of time. I'll have to send her to out-of-school classes for: Math, Science, French or Spanish, Art and Music. Basically, she'd be going to school twice! Do most of the parents here feel that SPS makes good use of their child's time? How? Why?

ParentofThree said...

Tutorin Options from Where's the Math

Tutoring Centers*
Tutoring Club www.tutoringclub.com
Eastside Basics www.eastsidebasics.com
Mathnasium www.mathnasium.com
Fast Track Math www.FastTrackMath.com
Kumon www.kumon.com
Sylvan Learning Centers tutoring.sylvanlearning.com
Club Z Tutoring www.clubztutoring.com
Online Tutoring*
HeyMath www.heymath.com
GoMath www.gomath.com
e-Tutor www.e-tutor.com
ALEKS www.aleks.com

anonymous said...

I am most disappointed in Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist both of who both have kids in SPS. I had a lot of confidence in each of them, and I voted for them. Carr just seems like a little lost blind lamb. Sundquist, though highly intelligent and seemingly moral, just can't seem to make a stand on anything. He just wades along.

Chow and Maier, well what can I say, they have fulfilled all of my expectations of them. They are both dead weight, rubber stamping, excuses for board members. Chow can't read her own writing intelligibly, and Maier can't string together a coherent sentence to save his life. It's difficult for me to even listen to either of them speak.

hschinske said...

Despite everything, I still say Seattle Public Schools is doing better than it was when I was in elementary and middle school (I went to private school from eighth grade on). My kids have for the most part been much happier than I was and learned a lot more.

I really cannot imagine paying tuition for private school as early as kindergarten, unless the local public school was actively an unpleasant place to be, where my child wouldn't be happy or safe.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

More math tutoring options.

826 in Phinney Ridge.
Many (all?) schools have after school math help.

Key Press has "Consolidated Lessons" freely available (ie, no password or login) on their website. These summarize what the student is supposed to learn in clear language. The few that I have looked at seem a lot like math texts of old --- to the point and with examples. So as long as you have internet and a printer, you can create a simultaneous reference along with the behemoth your student has in the backpack.

zb said...

"Despite everything, I still say Seattle Public Schools is doing better than it was when I was in elementary and middle school (I went to private school from eighth grade on). My kids have for the most part been much happier than I was and learned a lot more."

Thanks for saying this. Are you comparing SPS then and now? or some other system to SPS now?

When we toured schools, someone (I don't know who, but I think it was a private school admissions director) told my kid that her parents were trying to pick the "best" school for her. I remember being dismayed, by the pressure. I joked afterwards that I was merely looking for "adequate." I know that's wrong, that I want something better than adequate, but "best' is too high a standard to put on our choices, or require from any system, public or private. I still think that *many* schools in SPS do a very good job at educating the children entrusted to them. I don' think they do the "best" job. And, I actually think that even the schools that I would worry about sending my kids to, are largely unacceptable because of factors outside the control of the school. Could they do better? probably.

But, I'm pretty sure that restraining orders, throwing out the entire school board every couple of years, or changing superintendents every few years, are not going to improve the quality of the schools are not the way to make the schools better.

ParentofThree said...

"So as long as you have internet and a printer, you can create a simultaneous reference along with the behemoth your student has in the backpack."


Great option, for those privileged enough to have access to technology! Funny, that was an arguement from the one of two people at the meeting in favor of DM...it makes great use of techology. Talk about a biased based curriculum!

anonymous said...

We too have felt that our childrens elementary education was more than adequate, even with Turk and EDM. But middle school was another story. We didn't feel that SPS did a good enough job with MS. HS will be a new can of worms for us. I'm hoping that HS will meet and exceed our expectations, even with Discovering math, and LA standardization on the horizon.

If SPS HS does not meet our expectations then we will move our son back to Shoreline, where they are in the midst of adopting their new math materials. I am eagerly waiting to see what they decide on.

anonymous said...

BTW, Shoreline's three finalists are

Prentice Hall
Holt
Discovering

ds said...

Unfortunately, the condensed lessons are still very wordy. And many of the geometry lessons still include fill-in-the blank conjectures, rather than just stating them. And, as SPSMom noted, these resources may not be easily accessible to all.

I think these supplemental materials have the potential to help some kids, but, of course, there will still be challenges to overcome.

hschinske said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I grew up in Seattle and attended Lowell (then of course a neighborhood school) for K-4, Madrona 5-6, and Meany for 7th. All the same, I consider myself about 75% homeschooled for those years, in terms of where I actually learned any reading, math, science, etc.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

Ah, I'd looked at a couple algebra ones. The whole inductive geometry seems more problematic in a serious way. And of course I realize the gap between those who have internet and printers and some savvy and those that don't. That's just one more irritating thing. But don't worry! Ms delaFuente promised they would produce a DVD! One to take home so parents can learn how to help their kids with math homework. Everyone has time and technology for that, eh? And the school district can afford to produce this, eh? Suuuuuuure!

ParentofThree said...

"BTW, Shoreline's three finalists are...."

What is the middle school math? That will drive the final decision as it did here. If they have CMP, then then will continue on with DM or Holt, which I believe also uses the inquiry-based approach.



If they use CMP and then adopt PH, then they will have big troubles with kids coming into 9th grade not ready for a Algebra I. Which will mean they will need to address the middle school math....it's the ole, "if you give a moose a muffin...."

which is what happened here Wed night.

momster said...

adhoc, my experience with sherry carr and steve sundquist is very different from yours.

sherry carr is a senior finance manager at boeing and would never have gotten to that level by being a 'little lost blind lamb' - and my personal experience with her on a number of issues has shown me that she is analytical, pragmatic, and makes decisions within the context of the big picture. also, i've found her pretty tough-minded in financial and other decisions.

in the 2005 work for caciee she was not the highest profile member but did the most significant work - volunteering for the most contentious areas (special ed and school closure/capacity analysis) and making substantive recommendations that were tougher than the staff would have liked - but they respected her for being transparent, respectful and fair. not the profile of a "little blind lost lamb", in my opinion.

as president of the seattle council of ptas she was behind a number of initiatives including the city-wide special ed pta - which based on what i'm seeing of it at one of my schools has been a great resource for families with special needs.

i think she's more at her best in smaller groups and one on one - which may be what you're drawing your conclusions from (that and the fact that you didn't agree with her vote).

steve sundquist i don't know as well but have had conversations with him and know where he comes from and how long he was there - and by context, know he could never have been there without having very high caliber skills and capabilities.

much of which will not matter to you as you have your own opinions, but i wanted to provide another perspective.

Melissa Westbrook said...

TechyMom, I urge you to really look at the big picture and the long term.

First, does the private school you have chosen(I'm thinking it's elementary) really have everything you listed; foreign language, art, science and music? Most of the SPS elementaries will have art, science and music (and a few have foreign language but frankly, that's a luxury even though it's important). Some schools are stronger in science (Bryant for one has a huge science fair and science mentor parents), some have both choir and instrumental music (but it may depend on what instrument you want if you need private lessons) and some have very strong art programs.

I agree with Helen; there are enough good elementaries in SPS for you to consider putting your child in public school. Your child will likely be around more varying kinds of kids than at a private school - a benefit in itself. (But the likely smaller class size at a private school might outweigh that for your family.)

My point, in short, is to save your money. If you feel this way now, you may feel it even more at middle school. Save your money for private school (if you must) for middle and high school. SPS elementaries are good and the fellowship you get from other public school parents can be wonderful and rewarding.

(I know my remarks may surprise some but I wouldn't have my children in public school if I didn't believe in public education in this city.)

ParentofThree said...

Another consideration when thinking about public v. private is what you as a parent can contribute to your school. Maybe you could be that parent who brings a new club to your school, tutor some kids or contribute in a number of meaningful ways that benefit a broad spectrum of community members.

It takes a village, what do you want your village to look like for your family?

Dorothy Neville said...

"sherry carr is a senior finance manager at boeing and would never have gotten to that level by being a 'little lost blind lamb'"

I find that fascinating, that she has such a number-centric job. Then why is her 10th grade daughter having such a hard time with math in school? From the way she spoke about this, it seemed like she couldn't help her daughter, like she didn't get the math either.

I have had no connections with Carr, only know her from watching school board meetings. And she comes across as having a bit of a "deer in the headlights" look about her. Whether or not that accurately portrays who she is, that's the impression I get from my limited exposure.

ParentofThree said...

"like she didn't get the math either."

Nobody gets this math, that is the issue at hand. Reread my comment about " recursive routines"

Could you teach your kid that, no because it is a made up phrase intended to replace something else, what I still cannot figure it out.

She voted yes out of fear. She convinced herself that lesson went well...

...well I wonder what will happen in her home when recursive routines comes up at 10pm and Ms. de la Fuente isn't there?

Jennifer said...

I’m finding the conversation about the math curriculum and the two schools of thought (inquiry based vs. not) to be similar to the debate about reading instruction, phonics vs. whole language. I have always found the argument to be tiresome. If you lean too far to either side you do a disservice to kids and potentially set them up for a struggle. The same goes for math instruction, if you only have them memorize facts and formulas and don’t help them to understand how and why they work, you will have kids who, please excuse the over used term, can’t think outside the box. They will be stumped by problems that don’t fit into the one model they have been taught. I have never, ever used a curriculum that hasn’t needed some kind of supplementation. EDM, TURK, Saxon, Singapore, all of them are missing something. The discussion about materials used for in classroom room instruction, should be more focused on the math standards and whether they are covering the skills needed. As far as at home instruction goes it is the responsibly of every teacher to create and facilitate the distribution of appropriate homework. If a student is being sent home unfamiliar materials and is expected to either teach themselves or have a family member teach them, the distributing teacher is failing to do their job. Work sent home can stretch a skill level and help build a stronger base knowledge, but shouldn’t be new material with no teacher driven instruction linked to it.

anonymous said...

Shoreline Middle Schools use CMP. I have talked to a very reliable source that is on their math adoption committee and he tell me that Discovery is out of the picture. They have narrowed the choice down to Prentice Hall or Holt.

They do realize that it will be a huge transition for middle school kids coming up from CMP, and are working diligently on re learning the basics and supplementing the classes for the next few years. And they are beginning to form a committee to adopt a new MS math curriculum. They are doing what Seattle should have done. In my opinion.

anonymous said...

I should qualify, that I don't know Sherry Carr personally. And I know that she has an impressive resume with her work with Seattle Schools. But, she always looks so lost at the board meetings. She fumbles her words, has a hard time reading her scripted comments, and presents weak, vague arguments. She appears lost at times.

Dorothy Neville said...

Um, actually not only CAN I teach my son about recursion, I HAVE taught him. It's not a made up name, it's an important concept. However, in an algebra class? As a game played on a calculator? Unnecessary and confusing. Will probably be skipped by most if not all math teachers. At that level, it just comes across as a gimmick, not something deep and beautiful and powerful.

(ok, to be totally honest. I haven't really had to teach my son about recursion, although we've talked about it and I answered some questions. He learned about it on his own from reading a book on LISP and from reading _Godel, Escher, Bach_.)

I do agree that she seemed to vote yes out of fear.

ds said...

"If you lean too far to either side you do a disservice to kids and potentially set them up for a struggle."

I agree. But Discovering HAS leaned to far: It has leaned so far that kids can't use their textbooks as references; it has leaned so far that ELL kids will struggle with its wordiness; it has leaned so far that proofs have all but been removed from Geometry; and, as we all know too well by now, it has leaned so far that unbiased mathematicians deem it mathematically unsound.

These are huge problems. And now the district will need to expend additional resources to supplement Discovering to bring it back to where it should have been in the first place.

During this math discussion, Prentice Hall was dubbed "traditional" but really it's only traditional relative to Discovering. It does a lot of explaining of concepts and includes many real world examples and even "investigations." PH does NOT lean to far in the traditional direction. I think there are very few people opposed to Discovering who want a straight drill and kill approach. Prentice Hall would have been an acceptable middle ground.

momster said...

dorothy (and as mentioned, ad hoc) - it's funny that sherry comes across that way to you in public settings - she is anything but deer in the headlights.

i think she feels the gravity of the responsibility - and as mentioned - is more comfortable in smaller settings.

which makes me wonder how many of y'all have been the target of angry parents - i have, and they're formidable, and often not exactly rational, equipped with all of the facts and context, or amenable to listening to what they don't agree with.

which reminds me that you don't run for school board and win - esp against darlene flynn - if you're some kind of patsy.

i think she does much of her work behind the scenes and out of the limelight - and as mentioned previously, is tough-minded and uncompromising when it comes to what she thinks is right. i know her enough to know that she did not vote out of fear - and would be amazed that anyone could think such a thing.

curious is dorothy's deduction that because sherry is strong in analytical/quantitative skills, her daughter would be, as well. i'm a financial/business analyst and one of my three doesn't have that aptitude at all - and it's hard to teach them when you may not have those skills (it's one thing to know and another to teach) and don't have infinite time, as many of us working parents don't.

thanks all for not calling me a shill for sherry - some might think that's the case, and i could only say that i have no vested interest in defending her - and wouldn't if i didn't have first-hand experience and reason to admire her.

dan dempsey said...

Here are my letter to the SBE and to Director DeBell. I found the presentation by OSPI Math director Greta Bornemann extremely deceptive.

http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2009/05/letters-to-sbe-and-director-debell.html

Dorothy Neville said...

"curious is dorothy's deduction that because sherry is strong in analytical/quantitative skills, her daughter would be, as well. i'm a financial/business analyst and one of my three doesn't have that aptitude at all"

Not at all. That's not what I meant, but I can see why it seems that way. It's just that she didn't seem all that analytical in her approach to finding out exactly what problems her kid was having, what sort of remedies there ought to be, that sort of thing.

I just didn't see the logic in her approach to justifying her yes vote. Her daughter's having trouble in math. Why not use her connections to find out more about that? Instead her daughter gets a lesson from a math coach. How does that inform the debate and how does that specifically address her daughter's ongoing issues? That just doesn't fit my experience with highly analytical people.

And yes, I have faced angry parents (I used to be a teacher). I have probably looked like that proverbial deer myself. But not always. One grows out of it. But she isn't being yelled at by irrational angry parents while she is sitting at a board meeting?

No, I don't suspect you are a shill. As I think I have been clear, I acknowledge I only see one side of her and I find that disappointing and perplexing. I find it fascinating, actually, to hear a different perspective.

suep. said...

Any secret brilliance or behind the scenes fabulousness of Carr is certainly not coming through to the untrained eye. Moreover, who cares what she may be capable of to those who know her privately--all that really matters on the School Board are her votes, and she has cast some despicable ones--this week for a failed math text and in January for a unconscionable and reckless (and financially dubious) school closures/split and program elimination "plan."

For example, the so-called "Capacity Management Plan" kicks out a school of kids (primarily of color) from their own building (Cooper) so another group of kids (Pathfinder) can have "a better building"; it evicts an academically strong school (Nova) from the building where it's been for 30-plus years and into a seismically dangerous and inappropriately equipped building (Meany) in an incompatible cohousing situation; it rewards TTMinor for creating a successful Montessori school by moving the school to Leschi and kicking out the rest of the TTMinor kids, assigning them to Lowell, but offering them no transportation to get there; it kills off an entire school for no good reason (Summit); it splits the Accelerated Access Program into four pieces for no good or even consistent reason and therefore forces gifted kids--a group recognized by the district and the state as having special needs and now included in the new definition of "Basic Education"--to disproportionately bear the brunt of this insane "Plan." Meanwhile the Board is not openly acknowledging that it is squeezing out the Thurgood Marshall kids (again primarily of color) out of their own building to make room for APP. How equitable is that? Do I need to go on?

The "Capacity Management Plan" was a rushed, politically motivated sham, and anyone who voted for it and now the Discovering math series has a lot to answer for, Boeing finance wiz or not.

Also-- any person not able to deal with "angry parents" has no business running for School Board.

As for Carr defeating Flynn, didn't Carr, Meier and Sundquist get an unprecedented amount of money pumped into their election campaigns? Wasn't it something like $400,000--some kind of state record? Where did that money come from? Who had such a vested interest in getting three finance/business/lawyer types elected to the School Board? How convenient for the "entrepreneurial" Broad Foundation (and B. Gates)in their quest to privatize public schools and demonize teachers to have three more witless rubber stamps (along with Chow) on the School Board with Broad board member Goodloe-Johnson at the helm. Follow the money.

What's best for the kids, of course, is nowhere to be found in these equations.

anonymous said...

The math adoption and school closures and consolidation were just the beginning. Next the board will be asked to approve a new student assignment plan which will include drawing new boundaries and modifying transportation. We need strong board members who will demand equitable, sound proposals, and nothing less. We need board members that won't just accept anything that staff throws at board members that are not scared to tell the board to go back and do it over, and do it better. So far this board has not been able to do that.

anonymous said...

Boy did I butcher my comment above, I'll try again.

The math adoption and school closures and consolidation were just the beginning. Next the board will be asked to approve a new student assignment plan which will include drawing new boundaries and modifying transportation. We need strong board members who will demand equitable, sound proposals, and nothing less. We need board members that won't just accept anything that staff throws at them. Board members who will stand up for what they believe is right. Who are not scared to tell staff to go back and do it over, and do it better. So far this board has not been able to do that.

beth said...

Okay, I know about as much about school board rules as I do about teaching math to my kid (which is not much. which is why I hoped the schools would do that for me...)
But if the school board chose a text that a state board deemed unsound, is there some higher power that can be called in to intervene? Is the school board the very last word always?

Charlie Mas said...

I contacted Sherry Carr, and the other Board members, saying that now they have a responsibility to see the other elements of the Theory of Action implemented.

Director Carr responded to me, writing that she accepts the responsibility (to confirm the follow-through) that goes with the decision.

I don't know what more we can ask of her than that.

It is now incumbent on us to watch the District for that promised Theory of Action suite of supports and to address deficiencies to the Board. I asked Director Carr to begin with Singapore in the elementary schools.

I suggest that be the first topic of action in support of math curriculum adoption. If you're not happy with Director Carr's vote, you can begin by asking her to demand accountability on the elementary math adoption to show how she will demand accountability on the high school math adoption.