In Skydiving without Parachutes on Education News, Barry Garelick of World Class Math answers the question about a Seattle court case: “What’s a court doing making a decision on math textbooks and curriculum?”
In fact, the court did not rule on the textbook or curriculum. Rather, it ruled on the school board’s process of decision making — more accurately, the lack thereof. The court ordered the school board to revisit the decision.
King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector ruled that the Seattle school board’s decision-making process was “arbitrary and capricious,” ignoring key evidence, such as the state board of education’s finding that the discovery math series was “mathematically unsound.”
Parents are tired of seeing school board ignore the evidence that faddish math programs don’t work, Garelick writes.
They have suffered through Investigations in Number, Data and Space with its homework assignments asking students to show three ways to add 343 + 267 and draw pictures to illustrate what is going on. They have suffered through the ill-sequenced spiraling of Everyday Math, with fractions one day, geometry the next and the alternative (and inefficient) algorithms for multiplication and division. They have seen the ill-posed and open-ended problems for which their children have not been given prior instruction and who are asked to develop “strategies” for their solution. They have asked their kids to see the textbook to be told there is no textbook; only worksheets, and no worked examples.
Parents are tired of being forced to tutor their children at home or enroll them in Sylvan, Huntington or Kumon centers to learn what’s not being taught at school, Garelick writes. Parents who are scientists, mathematicians, engineers and teachers “understand the necessity of a solid foundation that is in a logical sequence which then builds upon itself.” They’re not going to accept math fads any more.
Update: Seattle Times columnist Bruce Ramsey looks at the district’s only school to use Singapore Math. The PTA pays for the books and for an extra math teacher, Sabrina Kovacs-Storlie. The district’s approved program, Everyday Math, is “teaching to exposure,” she says. “We are teaching to mastery.”