Weekly Math Updates
April 25, 2007
There's not much that can really surprise me anymore about the district but I have to say one of the comments someone got from one of the school board members actually succeeded. This particular member said she wasn't aware of any petition that existed against Investigations math in our district. Giving her the benefit of the doubt I suppose that could be because I never actually gave the district my full list (partly because there are teachers on the list and don't want their identities revealed and I promised not to) but I have certainly brought it up a few times with the board and it's been in the press a few times. I suppose that just illustrates how out of touch the board members are with parents in their district. Everyone that goes to see the district is the only parent who has ever complained. What a farce.
Here's the two you've seen.
'Extremist' comment defended by Laura Hancock
Math petitioners called 'extremists' in Alpine District by Brooke Barker
You've just got to love that Brooke got the whole story into the article showing Vern's quote and then backtracking that he wasn't calling anyone an extremist after clearly stating it and even speaking with whoever he thinks he did and telling them they were extreme. Please send Brooke a thank you at bbarker @ herald extra dot com (remove the spaces and substitute a period for the dot).
And a couple others of interest including yet another Star Trek future-look
Schools fumble on delivery of teacher raise by Alan Choate (sorry teachers)
Space shield to block radiation
Responses from You (just a sampling--the first three are from some national figures)
I'm amused by the new apparent definition of Extremist = someone who wants coherence in a math program.
I think the real definition being used is "Extremist: anyone whose views annoy you."
It's the pot calling the kettle black. By international standards, supporters of TERC are extremist
I've already sent in letters and my phone number has been turned in. I must now go rub my sticks together to make fire for evening meal.
Mr. Henshaw (et. al.),
No matter how you intended your comments about certain parents and their involvement in their children's math education, they are offensive. If that is your view then it is clear you have pushed aside the charter of your assignment and should step down. After all, you should be accountable, first and foremost, to all parents within your district. For your information, the definition of an extremist is "n. One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics." If I am not mistaken, it has been under your leadership that ASD has advocated and resorted to teaching practices that are "beyond the norm" and that are specifically related to a "political" agenda. The introduction of investigations math and our new "integrated" math program came about primarily from the input and feedback of educators and administrators and NOT from parents or students. Parents, after all, are ultimately responsible for their children's education.
I have only met a few parents that actually like the investigations method or even the blended approach. Most want Saxon math taught to their children, with proof being in the number of students leaving ASD and going to charter schools specifically for Saxon math. If you want further proof of this then talk with parents. I am sure I could refer a number of parents whose children have been seriously struggling with math under your tutelage - those you may call extremists but are in reality parents that are watching their children's confidence, growth, and overall opportunity suffer. I am telling you now that your approach DOES NOT represent the wishes of the majority of parents in your district. I do not appreciate your abnormal approach and views and would hope that you would be more approachable and amenable to feedback.
Just so I am clear, I do realize that there will always be a group of students that struggle with curriculum or specific learning approachs. I have heard a number of teachers state that there were always kids that struggled with the traditional, Saxon-based methods, usually 4 or 5 kids would need special help after lessons. But, with investigations it is more like 24 or more students out of a class that need help after each lesson. (By the way, most of this help is currently being covered by parents that are spending far more than the allotted math class time teaching traditonal, Saxon-based math in the home to compensate for the confusion with investigations.) A blended approach is logical but ONLY if the blend is proportionate to the need of the students. The math program should be be deeply rooted in traditional, Saxon-based math - 90% or more of the instructions should follow the Saxon approach. Supplementary material can and should be provided showing alternative methods in solving a problem. But, contrary to this method, your proposed blended approach is much more of a 50%/50% split between traditional math and investigations. I am opposed to this current approach as it will continue to generate substantial confusion and require heavy supplementation from other sources (parents, tutoring, etc.) to keep our kids on track.
After looking at the correlation scores for each of our math "choices," it was clear that those numbers subjectively promoted your agenda and removed our choice as parents. As I said earlier, I would hope that you could be more approachable and amenable to feedback as the current approach is doing nothing but driving a wedge between parents and the ASD. I am indeed open to discuss this in more detail and would love to see a stronger, non-biased partnership initiated from the the board with parents.
Mike Jorgensen Highland, UT
In a meeting with the Orem City Council, Alpine School District Superintendent Vern Henshaw calls parents "extremist" who wish to have students use one math program such as Saxon Math. A proven success, Saxon is used in nearly all charter, private and home schools (that adds up to a lot of "extremist" parents!). In the fourth grade my son scored at the eighth grade level after using Saxon since kindergarten.
Superintendent Henshaw is also heard to whisper on the audio file from the meeting, in reference to Investigations. "This is more about parents than kids. The kids do just fine." Is he referring to kids at the five Orem elementary schools with rock bottom math scores? Having lived in Orem, I know those kids are doing anything but fine. Their "extremist" parents are now trying to catch their kids up on their multiplication tables, which they did not learn under Investigations Math.
Alpine School District continues to defend and promote their failed math curriculum. Their behavior is scandalous. Board member Andrea Forsyth called Orem parents "cave people" in a public meeting. Now add to the name calling "extremist." It's time for Vern Henshaw to resign, to elect a new school board, and to split this dinosaur district!
Till next week,
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