Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why NOT FOLLOW the Law SB 6534?

Dear Members of the State Board of Education, 4-26-2008

As you are aware from my previous email, I’ve filed legal action in Thurston County Superior Court (08-2-00974-0) on 4-24-2008 requesting injunctive relief in the form of the following of the law SB 6534.

I am a great believer in having parties resolve differences rather than going to court. It has been my experience that in a large number of situations Washington School Boards ignore policies and laws unless taken to court.

It is my observation that board members tend to trust those they supervise to make correct decisions rather than conducting a personal investigation of the matter at hand. I urge you to personally investigate this matter.

I would prefer not to proceed with legal action but given my past experience in all likelihood I will not even get a single response from a State Board of Education member on this issue prior to the April 28th, 2008 vote.

In reading SB 6534, I believe the public to be the victims of Bait and Switch.

My brief synopsis on the Bait & Switch

OSPI practices produced a decade of Math disaster (See attached Spreadsheet). Despite enormously expensive testing there was no public notice of the statewide math disaster until August of 2006 by Dr Bergeson. The Legislature and the SBE intervened and hired Strategic Teaching {SP} and selected a Math Advisory Panel {MP} of 20 members who went through an application process. The Legislature passed HB 1906. The ST with MP help made recommendations in August 2007.

September of 2007, OSPI selected the Dana Center for $770,000 over qualified competitors bidding $255,000 and $130,000. OSPI ignored ST’s recommendations in their selection of the Standards Revision Team, failing to include highly knowledgeable mathematical professionals from industry on each grade level team. OSPI selected far more representatives than recommended by ST. OSPI selected the SRT with a clear bias toward individuals likely to produce little change as they had in most cases a demonstrated bias for the reform mathematics pushed by OSPI over the last several years.

Robert J. Dean was initially not selected to the SRT. He was added later when an FOI revealed he had a higher score than many of those selected to be on the SRT. The Dec 4, 2007 first Draft produced by the Dana Center led SRT did not use the exemplary standards as a reference as required in HB 1906 but produced only a modification of the previously existing defective standards.
The Legislature eventually rejected the product of OSPI’s Dana Center led SRT. The Legislature produced SB 6534 as a remedy for this failure.

Here comes the Bait & Switch:
(1) SB 6534 there will be opportunity for meaningful public input
(2) SB 6534 removed the Dana Center, OSPI and OSPI’s SRT
(3) SB 6534 put in place the SBE, Strategic Teaching and the Math Advisory Panel to produce the effective Math Standards needed.
(4) SB 6534 put reasonable timelines in place.

Here is the Switch:
(1) The Drafts were continually changing; there was inadequate opportunity for public input. The last draft was posted less than 7 hours before the start of the approval meeting on April 18th, despite the promise that it was to have been available days earlier.
(2a) The Dana Center’s Cathy Seeley was still involved as evidenced in an email on 4-15-2008. This is a likely cause of (#1) above.
(2b) OSPI is altering the Timelines and as a result effectively excluding the Math Advisory Panel as well as causing the Standards to be split into pieces.
(2c) Dr George Bright and members of the SRT gave scheduled testimony before the SBE on 4-18-2008.
(3a) The Math Advisory Panel did not meet as a formal body, where collaborative discourse and interaction allows for clarification and out of which good useful recommendations arise. No Math Panel testimony was scheduled.
(4) Timelines are now so compressed that there is no hope of producing an optimal result. The standards should be produced as a k-12 package not split into pieces. Apparently the OSPI plan is for three pieces: k-8; 9,10; 11,12

Dr George Bright has continued involvement in the standards process. His statement on KIRO that the New Math has increased access to groups that historically had little access to mathematics is totally in error as evidenced by the attached spreadsheet of Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students in three Reform Math heavy districts of Clover Park, Seattle, and Bellevue. It would seem that civil rights organizations should consider filing legal action against the State of Washington’s State Board of Education and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. They might also wish to consider action against the Seattle School District, the Bellevue School District, the Clover Park School District, as well as many others. The reason for the suit would be the continued use and advocacy for ethnically discriminatory Math materials.

Dr Bright has an opinion that has no basis in fact. He was hired by Dr Bergeson to be her liaison to guide us out of the math melt down. Given his thoughts expressed on KIRO radio, he is ill equipped for this task. He apparently believes that the NSF reform math programs have increased access for non-Asian minority and low-income students, while the exact opposite is the case.

Before I started my blog, The Math Underground, I started a web site School Truth. In its statement of purpose is the following:

In regard to mathematics, our nation is becoming less and less internationally competitive. Thus the acknowledged power groups, which include the National Science Foundation, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, U.S. Department of Education, National Education Association, Washington Education Association, Washington State Board of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, many local school boards, many local superintendents and district offices, should be viewed as possible agents in marching us into this continued decline. The ridicule expressed by many in these groups to any ideas different from their own is an effort to stifle questions for which they have no factually based answers.

There were no good old days but we can profit from the past. We need to intelligently direct our energy to the present and the future.

Our goal is therefore to direct energy to the present and the future with intelligence, which can be defined as knowing the right thing to do at the right time to produce results in the best interests of all our children.

I plan to bring whatever force to bear that I can muster to correct the discriminatory nature of the selection of Math materials in this state. These materials discriminate against almost everyone pursuing the learning of mathematics. Those with fewer resources are unable to escape the full force of this discrimination.

The Washington legislature attempted to fix this situation first with HB 1906 then with SB 6534. Unfortunately after the unanimous vote on April 18th, 2008 the Washington State Board of Education has little interest providing an optimal solution to the problem or in following SB 6534.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. Plaintiff

attachments: spreadsheet data (.html), emails (.doc), SB 6534 (.pdf)
Dan with Dave Ross on KIRO

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