Educating All Parents To Ensure The Future Of Our Republic

My remarks to the school board on 7/19/05

Before you read my remarks, please realize that although some of this may sound harsh, I'm actually a very pleasant guy and it takes quite a bit for me to outright argue. Although I had some strong statements for the board, I believe I delivered them in a pleasant way, not getting angry, but just curious about getting the answers to my questions.


First let me begin by how upset I am that you would schedule a school board meeting for parents of already limited time and upset the delicate time balance that exists when it’s only been 3 days since Harry Potter VI came out. I’m very disappointed in you. (yes I was kidding and they knew it)

But that’s not why I’m here. Let me preface my remarks by saying there are many things to like about the public school system and the amount of time and effort you expend on behalf of our children. The positive things you do are certainly appreciated and there are many of them.

Tonight I am here to speak about Investigations Math. Perhaps some of you recognize my face from the meeting in March, and others, if not all, should recognize my name since I sent an email to all of you about a month ago asking you a question about the origin of Investigations in this district. Surprisingly I have not received any response to my email. Not even an acknowledgement that any of you received it. (Board unanimously stated they did not receive the email though their system said the message was sent correctly so I'm giving them the benefit of doubt that it didn't get there) So tonight I would like to ask a few simple questions in the hope that I can obtain the truth.

1) Is it true that after implementing I.Math, teacher’s that tried to keep textbooks in their classroom had them confiscated since textbooks aren’t used in the curriculum of I. Math? (At this point the board said they wouldn't be answering my questions at that time and they would have someone get back to me. Since they weren't going to answer it, I stated I had confirmed this with a co-worker attorney who is a neighbor to a school board member. JoDee Sundberg the president proceeded to confirm for me that this had happened by sharply responding that that board member misspoke and that I had not heard that from a board member. I said it was true that it was "secondhand" knowledge and she seemed satisfied that I was properly discredited though I do hope no one got in trouble for telling the truth) Could you please tell me the political system most closely associated with confiscation of textbooks? I thought we lived in America. I know I'm a little weak on history, but as I thought through democracy, socialism, fascism, communism...the only one I can think of was Hitler's Germany that I know confiscated textbooks... (Thank you for coming Mr. Norton your time is up) (and yes, I said this with a smile, not overly accusatory, just pointing out the only parallel I was aware of.)

2) Is it true that teachers were told they were not allowed to teach times tables to children? Secondhand, I know of a teacher that was put to tears over being reprimanded for teaching the times tables and firsthand I was told by my 3rd grader’s teacher last year that times tables are not part of the investigations program and the “smart kids will just learn them as they go”? That leaves other kids that aren't so "smart" to never get them down. The problem here is that studies show that algebra is the single biggest predictor of collegiate success across all majors. That means if you're a music major or anything non-technical, the single biggest factor in determining if you'll succeed in college is how well you did in algebra. The single biggest factor in kids succeeding in algebra is how well they have their math facts down. So if we're not teaching the times tables, the smart kids that are going to "make it" anyway will be just fine, but the kids in the lower levels of understanding aren't going to cut it in algebra or college.

3) Did the school district get a federal grant or any type of kickback from the National Science Foundation or any other organization for implementing Investigations Math? I have it direct from more than one teacher in this district that we did.

I am aware that you are going to present some figures tonight no doubt touting the great achievements Investigations Math has made in the district. However, any progress that the district is about to claim is tainted by news I have only learned this past week.

I have learned that before some of the exams students are taking, students are being switched to traditional math rather than investigations in sort of an effort to cram math facts before the tests. In another instance, one of the attorneys I work with (different from the last I mentioned) who would have been here tonight if he weren’t out of town, learned directly from his child’s 1st grade teacher (and a well respected one at that) that last year her entire class failed a standard math test. My associate at work asked to see a copy of the exam from this teacher during a parent-teacher conference and she showed it to him. It was simple addition problems like 3 + 7. So what happened? They switched curriculum to traditional math, taught the students for a period of a few weeks and retested them and low and behold they passed the exam. So before you start touting how exam scores are great in this district, your credibility is already in question.

This same co-worker that had this experience told me that two of his neighbors put their kids into charter schools during two consecutive years and each one had their children placed in math classes two years below the grade they were supposed to be in to start catching up.

On my website there is a quote from a Harvard professor speaking at the opening of the HOLD (honest open logical debate) conference in NY and he said that TERC students are roughly two years behind other children by the time they reach 5th grade. California learned this the hard way when they implemented Mathland (almost identical to I.Math) during the 90’s and saw remedial math courses at CSU go from 25% to 54% of incoming freshmen.

Here’s a couple more facts:
According to the Fordham Foundation that ranks math curriculum in every state, Utah is 35th in the country and California is 1st. If you look at California’s curriculum, they have banned Investigations Math. Saxon math is one of about a dozen approved curriculum along with Prentice-Hall, Harcourt-Bracewell, and other big name publishers.

The studies that have been touted to you about the benefits of the program, you are starting to realize were not quite accurate. Some were even fraudulent in stating they were independent when in reality they were subjective. You can find links to these analysis' at my website. In the meantime, I highly encourage you to examine an exit strategy before you have the whole district moving into charter schools and you find yourself without students.

On a separate note, September 17, 2005 is national constitution day and by law every entity that receives federal dollars is required to have a program of some kind teaching all students in the district about the constitution. What are your plans at this point, and if they are not developed, may I suggest that I could donate copies of the DVD “A More Perfect Union” to all of the middle and high schools in the district to be shown to them on the anniversary of the creation of the constitution. This is a video produced by BYU a few years back to dramatize the event and it's excellent.

Response from Barry Graff meeting on 7/22/05

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