Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Do OPSI and SBE have to follow the Law?
Legal Complaint Filed on April 24 for Injunctive Relief


DANAHER M. DEMPSEY, JR., an individual,Plaintiff,




Complaint filed and defendants notified on April 24, 2008


Plaintiff, Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr., a certified public school teacher in the State of Washington and member of the State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel, seeks injunctive relief against the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington State Board of Education, pursuant to the enactment of RCW 28A.305.215, including amendments under SB6534 passed during 2008 legislative session of the 60th legislature and signed into law by the Governor of the State of Washington. The Plaintiff alleges the intent and the letter of RCW 28A.305.215 are being disregarded by the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and seeks the Courts’ injunctive relief by delaying the adoption of Washington State revised mathematics standards until the requirements of RCW 28A.305.215 are fully and completely met.


Over the last decade, the State of Washington has greatly increased spending in an attempt to insure that the children of Washington are receiving the correct and proper education in mathematics so they will be able to compete in the 21st century global economy. The measure of this success has been primarily based on the results of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). By all measures, the results of the WASL exams have indicated severe problems in the math education in this State. Many have indicated that the main source of the problem was the poorly written Washington State math standards, which are the basis for the content on the mathematics WASL. The standards provided the basis for determining the most standards’ aligned math texts. The most widely used texts in Washington are now Everyday Mathematics at the elementary level and Connected Mathematics Project at the middle level, neither of which is a good match for the recently released National Math Advisory Panel Report Foundations for Success of March 13, 2008. On page 20 in a section titled A Need for Coherence the report finds the top-performing countries are more likely to expect closure after exposure, development, and refinement of a particular topic. These critical differences distinguish a spiral curriculum (like Everyday Mathematics) from one built on developing proficiency—a curriculum that expects proficiency in the topics that are presented before more complex or difficult topics are introduced. Connected Mathematics Project does not focus on Authentic Algebra; see pages 16 – 20 of the Foundations for Success.

In recognition of this math standards problem, the 59th legislature amended RCW 28A.305.215 by passing 1906-S2 AMS ENGR which required the State Board of Education to complete an exhaustive review of the existing standards with the help of a national consultant and a newly appointed math advisory panel under RCW 28A.305.219. SB1906 states; ”The state board of education shall be assisted in its work under subsections (3) and (5) of this section by: (a) An expert national consultant in each of mathematics and science retained by the state board; and (b) the mathematics and science advisory panels created under section 2 of this act, as appropriate, which shall provide review and formal comment on proposed recommendations to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education on new revised standards and curricula.”

In August of 2007, the State Board of Education completed this standards review using the report issued by Strategic Teaching, the national consultant chosen by the State Board of Education to review the mathematics standards. Strategic Teaching found that the existing standards were extremely deficient and made numerous recommendations, which necessitated a major revision of the existing state math standards.

Further provisions of RCW 28A.305.215 called for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to submit the revised standards to the legislature for approval no later than January 31, 2008. If no objections were made by the legislature the standards were to be adopted at that time.

On January 31st, 2008 the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in accordance with RCW 28A.655.070(4), submitted a partially completed revision of the standards. However, this revision was found to be unsatisfactory by the House and Senate Education Committees. The submittal date was later amended by the Legislature to be February 29th, 2008. The Superintendent of Public Instruction submitted a 2nd revised draft of the standards on February 29th, 2008. Further drafts were submitted on March 5th, 2008 and following.

The legislature found all of these drafts lacking and as a result passed new legislation, SB6534, a further amendment to RCW 28A.305.215, which 1) extended the time period for the standards revisions 2) removed the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the sole director of developing the revised math standards and put the State Board of Education in charge of directing the revisions based on a new analysis to be made by a national consultant 3) and required “By July 1, 2008, the superintendent of public instruction shall revise the mathematics standards to conform precisely to and incorporate each of the recommendations of the state board of education under subsection (4)(c) of this section and submit the revisions to the state board of education."

Further, the amendments to RCW 28A.305.215 state “By May 15, 2008, the state board of education shall review the consultant's draft report, consult the mathematics advisory panel, hold a public hearing to receive comment, and direct any subsequent modifications to the consultant's report.” To date the State Board of Education’s Mathematics Advisory Panel has not been consulted and the public hearing was inadequate as it was held less than 9 hours after the release of last draft of the Revised Math Standards on April 18th, 2008.


The State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction have arbitrarily chosen not to follow the timelines set in RCW28A.305.215, as amended by SB6534. Instead, they split the state math standards into pieces and set up a timeline that does not allow for proper evaluation of the revised standards nor gives adequate time for formal input of the Math Advisory Panel as called for in RCW 28A.305.215. The State Board of Education's new timeline only allowed for 30 minutes of public input at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 18th, 2008. The draft under consideration for approval had only been made public that morning April 18th, 2008. Further, instead of calling a meeting of the Math Advisory Panel to discuss and evaluate the new standards, panel members were advised on short notice in an email the evening of April 4th, 2008 from State Board of Education Executive Director, Edie Harding, to send an email with their comments on the revisions to Ms. Linda Plattner by April 8th, 2008. The individual panel member’s emailed comments were not sent to other panel members unless there were specific requests to do so, nor were panel members encouraged to communicate with each other. This was an unsatisfactory rushed procedure. From the April 4th, 2008 email: “Here is the report from Strategic Teaching on the K-8 Standards. I am sending it to you so that you can give Linda any comments you want by April 8th. We are on this tight turnaround because Linda is going to China and leaving me in the lurch. She will consider your comments and make final changes to me so I can get final report to the Board for the April 18 special meeting. I am also turning this report over to OSPI so they can start drafting the final standards from these very specific recommendations. Both Linda’s final report and the OSPI standards based on this report will be discussed at our special meeting on April 18th in Olympia from 1:30-3:30 pm. You mail (sic) send letters to us to distribute to the Board members or give testimony in person.”

Very few math panelists were in attendance at the April 18th, 2008 meeting and Mr. Steve Floyd of the State Board of Education encouraged anyone testifying to try to be brief.

It is the professional opinion of the plaintiff that by presenting and approving the standards “piecemeal” it is impossible to ensure that the new standards will align coherently and form an acceptable set of math standards to guide this state for another decade. Further, this action is without precedent and does not comply with the intention of the legislature in RCW 28A.305.215 to provide math standards comparable to the top performing nations for the children of this state. There is no justification for this rush to judgment and arbitrary new timeline set by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. It is clear that while some individual panel members may have provided input, the math advisory panel gave no input, as the math advisory panel was given no opportunity to function as a group. The compressed timeline and large number of revised drafts made input difficult for math advisory panel members as individuals and others who wanted to provide input. The panel did not provide the input required by state law.

On April 17th, 2008, I sent a letter to the State Board of Education members through Ms Edie Harding that said: (1) “I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.“ (2) “The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve.” I did not receive a response from any member of the State Board of Education. The Washington State Board of Education voted unanimous approval of the Standards on April 18th, 2008.

In an email, dated April 15th, 2008, sent to Edie Harding, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Cathy Seeley of the Dana Center stated: “I’m attaching the document that lists decisions we made to vary from the ST recommendations.” The Dana Center should not be making content changes to vary from the Strategic Teaching recommendations on April 15th, 2008, when SB6534 does not include them as a participant in this process. This may have caused further delay in public notification. Previous statements made by State Board of Education Executive Director Edie Harding indicated that the last draft would be available on April 15th, 2008. The last draft was not publicly released until 7:00 AM on April 18th, 2008, which was six and one-half hours before the start of the meeting to approve these recommendations.


Based on the foregoing, plaintiff seeks the following relief from the court:

A) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education to follow the intent of the legislature and provide adequate and formal input from the Math Advisory Panel as required in RCW 28A.305.215.

B) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to consider the revised Washington state math standards as a whole rather than cutting them into arbitrary pieces to be adopted separately.

C) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education to provide a realistic and appropriate time for public input into the new revised standards as called for in RCW 28A.305.215.

D) A declaration requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make changes that “conform precisely to and incorporate each of the recommendations of the State Board of Education” as called for in RCW 28A.305.215, and

E) An injunction preventing The Superintendent of Public Instruction from adopting the revised standards until the provisions of RCW 28A.305.215 are fully met.

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