Weekly Math Updates

April 18, 2007


  • Concerned Parent Responses
  • Media Articles
  • Audio Bonus
  • Weekly Comic

Concerned Parent Responses

Hi all,

Thanks so much for the feedback last week on the plight of the lady that just moved into ASD. Below are a sampling of responses which I have passed on to her. I received this email back from the parent who asked the question of you.

"Oak, When you publish the emails, will you thank everyone who wrote to help, and let them know this family's now on charter school waiting lists and is looking into the other recommended schools?  For children like this, a good curriculum early on will mean the difference between becoming first-generation college students or  struggling with poverty throughout adulthood."

Responses from you:

Regarding the family, if the boy has had any testing, or if she has the school do testing and he qualifies for an IEP (individual education plan), he could then use the Carson Smith Scholarship to go to private school.  It's about $3600, which would cover many private schools.  For now, the vouchers are moving forward, since the 2nd bill can stand alone.  The vote will be on the parts of the original bill that were not included in the 2nd bill, like the mitigation money going to the schools (which ironically, is shooting themselves in the foot--rather than keeping the extra 4K after a voucher, the schools wouldn't get any if the bill is voted down).  Anyway, the state office should have the forms ready by May 15, I believe.  Believeinparents.org has links on both Carson Smith and the voucher bill.  Hopefully these may help this family.  It is very frustrating.  Let me know if I can answer any other questions.  I'm a reading speciali st and am familiar with programs that work well and programs that don't work well, if the student has a reading "difference," meaning that he needs to learn to read in a different way than most traditional schools provide.


It sounds like the school is part of the problem but even in a bad school if you have a great teacher it doesn't matter. She needs to find where the great teacher is and then get her child to that school. I know not everyone is a fan of PTA but I would get a list of PTA Presidents from the area schools and get teacher names from there then check with the district to see if any of those schools have open enrollment. A lot of the Orem schools do. I can help with that if that is route they would like to go.

The Ranches Academy is the charter in my area, all the way in Eagle Mountain, but it is a good school and I don't believe the waiting list is as long as others because it is so far out here.

The other option is, of course, home schooling. In the absence of any other option, thank heaven we have that.


When we first moved to Utah our kids attended Hillcrest Elementary and we found it to have very supportive parents and a very traditional approach to learning. I was there recently in the middle of the day to talk about libraries and I found the school to be filled with very creative artwork, projects, and the staff was very helpful. The most important thing I feel any parent can do is to get involved and speak directly to the teacher and ask for help in motivating this student again. It might be that he is just overwhelmed with the move.


   I live in Orem.  The best neighborhood schools I know to enroll your child in are all in North Orem.  I have a friend who sends her children to Northridge and is very happy there.  Sorry, I know that's not great news for this family.

   On the other hand, I would recommend Noah Webster Academy for everything this mom is looking for.  My children are enrolled there and while it has been a rocky year in some ways (admin/board only, the classrooms are great), I still wouldn't switch my children back to any of the neighborhood schools in Orem because the NWA curriculum is so much better and I love the emphasis given to patriotism.  Also, I have the impression that the problems NWA has faced this year are being worked out.

Specifics regarding this mom's concerns and NWA:

   NWA uses the Spalding curriculum to teach phonics, spelling, reading...It's a GREAT curriculum.  I really can't say enough good about it.  It has done so very much for all of my children.  Specifically for kindergarten:  my kindergartener entered school knowing less about reading/writing than either of my two older children and currently he can do more than either of them could by the end of kindergarten in one of Orem's other schools.  I don't think he's any brighter than they are--it is the curriculum.  :)  I'm very happy with the phonics!

   NWA uses Saxon math and Right Start Math.  Right Start is used in the beginning, so her kindergartener would be in that program.  It's great!  I'm very, very pleased with that curriculum as well, especially after Investigations.  And she can look forward to Saxon as her child gets older--another solid program.  No problems at this school with math.  We switched schools to get a decent math program and we haven't been disappointed.

   Pledge of Allegiance:  At NWA they don't just recite the pledge, they also sing the national anthem.  The entire school gathers in the gym for "morning meeting" at the beginning of the day (there are exceptions to this, of course--for various scheduling reasons sometimes it's not done...?), they recite the pledge, sing the national anthem, have announcements, maybe sing other patriotic songs...  You get the idea. 

  Anyway, I don't think NWA currently has a long wait list.  I would try to get the child in NOW in hopes it would get him in next year, too.  It's not a perfect school (Is there such a thing?), but it's the best in the area.  That's just my personal thoughts.  I hope they're helpful to this mom and her son.


We have a possible answer for this woman. For $5.00 (yes, 5 dollars, that's all) she can go to the Provo School District and get her child transferred into the district, as long as she provides transportation. Not knowing where she lives, if she's just barely within the Alpine School District, that could put her near the schools in Grandview or in Edgemont. She can call the district and tell them she wants her child to attend a Provo School and which one would be closest to where she lives, now? I shuttled our youngest from Orem down to Maeser Elementary for the second grade and it was well worth it. She's suffered from coming back to Alpine School District, but she was with her cousins in Provo and that might have also helped.

Hope that helps. The fees may have gone up, but the price can't be too overwhelming. I believe that's the fee for K-8th grade. Once high school begins, the fees sky-rocket to about $5000 a year. Good luck.

PS. It might be worth it to her to get onto a charter school, as the friend suggests, and I would recommend Noah Webster on 400 S.  in Orem or Walden Charter, which is moving across the street from Will's Pit Stop on Univ. Ave. and about 3500 N. in Provo.


Cherry Hill is a good public school.  They have Gifted & Talented classes at the 5th & 6th grade levels.

Based on heresay, the school student body and staff have pretty good standards.


You could let this concerned friend know that Cherry Hill (located in southwest of Orem) is a great school with lots of housing options in its boundaries.  My aunt moved there 10 years ago to be in that school's boundaries, and she had private school under her belt, and is glad they've lived there. Plus then they go to Lakeridge for Jr. High, then Mountain View for HS, all of which have great reputations.


Noah Webster doesn't have huge waiting list in some grades.  They have had some problems this year with the board and principal but the curriculum is great and they have saxon math.  Also there are schools in Orem that aren't as bad as others.  Foothill isn't bad and not very crowded.  This past year the first grade ratio was about 17:1.  They have some great teachers and some duds.  The problem however is that they loved Investigations (which is why we left)  Now that they had to choose something else it may be better. 


I live in Lindon and drive my children to South Orem just for the Elementary School there. They attend Hillcrest Elementary. Overall, I have been very happy with the school, they are one of the few schools in the district that did not implement investigations math. They say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. I hope this helps.

The bottom line when selecting a school is to see what programs they use and ask about the quality of the teachers and try to get into the classes of the best ones.

Media Articles

Let Them at Least Have Heard of Brave Knights and Heroic Courage by Micheal Flaherty, President, Walden Media
For those that don't know the story of Walden Media, they are a company trying to bring forth inspirational family friendly movies. In this article, Michael writes about some of the films they have produced and their goals to encourage great stories to be told on the big screen. It's well worth reading.

Audio Bonus

My wife was out last week and decided to get some new music for our 4 year old who rules the car audio system with her iron fist. So she saw this package called "50 Fun Learning Songs" on 2 CD's and thought she'd buy it. What she didn't know is that she would enjoy some of the songs as well. Now I'm not trying to say all the songs are this funny (though at least one other I've listened to is), but you have to listen to this one and admire the person who created the lyrics. If you want to purchase the CD I've linked to it below on Amazon.

Play "What is a Spider?" (This will only be on my server temporarily so listen soon if you want to--and listen to the whole thing)

Buy the CD

Weekly Comic

This week we have a guest artist that sent me a comic.

Archive: http://www.weaponsofmathdestruction.com

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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