Friday, April 25, 2008

Why I am Taking SBE and OSPI to Court
......... a letter { Follow the Law}

Dear State Board of Education Voting Members, 4-25-2008

On April 24th, 2008 in Thurston County Superior Court, I filed a legal complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief #08-2-00974-0. The relief I seek is to have OSPI and SBE follow the law SB6534. In your unanimous vote on Friday April 18th, 2008 I think that you violated the law by choosing not to follow it.

Having spent the 2006-2007 school year in the Seattle Public Schools, I am experienced with a board’s decision making process that often chooses to trust the hired professionals rather than thoroughly researching the action under consideration. For one example consider the unanimous vote on May 30th, 2007 by the Seattle School Directors to approve the Everyday Mathematics texts in the elementary school math adoption.

In the Everyday Math situation, after one year Seattle will have expended in excess of $4 million for materials, coaching and professional development on a book that ignores the essence of mathematics. That essence is the fact that mathematics is best learned by mastering increasingly sophisticated material, which is built layer upon layer. Yes, $4 million dollars to move in a direction opposed by 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.
It is likely that Seattle adopted these materials with very little thought because Everyday Mathematics was rated by OSPI as a most aligned math series with the WA Math EALRs and GLEs.

There are several reasons that I decided to take the time and make the effort as well as pay the $200 filing fee to take legal action against OSPI and SBE. It has become increasingly apparent that in too many cases governmental bodies do not follow the law. This has been quite apparent though out the ongoing saga of HB 1906 and SB6534. I will not go into all the details of failure in this communication. I will ask you to reject the proposal which will be submitted to you on Monday April 28th, 2008 because the law SB6534 has not been followed.

Your current charge is to develop and approve World Class Math Standards by following SB6534. This has not occurred and the law SB6534 has not been followed.

I wrote a letter to many of you on February 11th, 2008. I sent a letter to each SBE member on April 17th, 2008. I received no response to either letter.

If you vote in the affirmative on Monday April 28th, 2008 to approve these standards, be aware of each of the following because it is apparent that you choose to over rule each of these points by your actions:

1. The Math Advisory Panel has not met and discussed any of this as required by law. The synergistic process of placing highly knowledgeable people about math together in a collaborative environment is exactly what I believe SB6534 required for Math Panel input. It should be noted that the Math Panel has several industry professionals who are very knowledgeable about mathematics on it. This is the recommended composition of a group involved in any standards revision as advocated by the 2004 NSF funded Mathematics Standards Study Group. Despite the fact that one of the recommendations of HB 1906 consultants Strategic Teaching was for mathematically knowledgeable industry professionals on the Math Standards Revision Team, OSPI ignored both the MSSG and Strategic Teaching recommendations in this regard.

2. Public Input was required but there was inadequate time to develop public input. When a document is continually revised and the promise is that the last revision will be posted on April 15th. Then that revision is sent out to Math Advisory Panelists at 7:00 AM on April 18th and posted a bit later on the Website, how is the public to intelligently respond in a meeting that is held at 1:30 PM of the same day as the release.

3. This development process has now been broken into a piecemeal arrangement. That was not done with the intention that it would help in the development of World Class Math Standards. It was done to provide summer professional development. This summer professional development was not mentioned as being necessary within the time frame of SB6534. Let us get the product correct, as SB6534 requires by following the process advocated by the law. In the current “Hurry Up Plan” huge gloss-overs are happening. Math panel does not meet. Public Input with less than 7 hours of reflective development time.

4. The meeting of April 18th had less than half of the SBE members physically present. I testified at that meeting as a member of the public as the Math Panel was not asked to prepare a statement. The Math Panel had never been consulted as an advisory panel in this situation. Strangely Dr George Bright and several members of the Standards Revision Team were on the agenda giving testimony and urging the SBE to adopt this report. I use the word strangely as they are not mentioned in SB6534. The failure of the Standards Revision Team to produce adequate Standards inspired the legislature to remove both the Dana Center and the Standards Revision Team from the Revision of Standards described in SB6534. Why is Dr Seeley of the Dana Center still involved with attempting to make modifications to the Standards less than one week prior to April 18? Why is the SBE hearing from the SRT team instead of the Math Panel?

5. Please reread my letter of April 17th, 2008 in its entirety.
a… I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.

b… Please do not finalize these K-8 standards this week.

c… Why are we panelists being deprived of time because OSPI wasted it?

d… The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve.

e… I thought the intent of the (2008) legislature was to have the SBE correct the poor direction given by OSPI in this process. Please do so.

You can read the full text of my legal complaint at:


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE Math Advisory Panelist
NCLB HQ Mathematics, Chemistry, Science
BA Mathematics, M.Ed

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