Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Testimony Draft

Dear Board Members, 8-20-2008

I am Dan Dempsey.

Decisions that serve our children can be exceedingly difficult to make. The amount of information swirling about often makes it difficult to ascertain even a reasonable direction. Political maneuvering often fails to serve our children.

After a year of political maneuvering that included the acceptance of the really high bidder and a legislative no confidence vote in OSPI’s math work, OSPI recently released the preliminary draft of the k-8 Math selections.

In math Seattle schools currently could head in a greatly improved direction. Seattle has a great opportunity to improve decision-making through the use of relevant statistical data.

Ms. Santorno and Mr. Bernatek will be using MAP testing three times per year at certain schools. Anna-Maria de la Fuente will be the new Math Program manager beginning in September. She has ties to the Seattle Transition Math Project. Schmitz Park school is beginning year two of 100% Singapore Math.

Deming tells us: to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

Seattle has a great opportunity to do this.

Despite the hope that the OSPI process would lead to an Internationally competitive math program in Washington, many have great doubts that will occur.

The k-5 preliminary results of twelve programs revealed that the lowest rated program lagging far behind all the others was Singapore Math. Given the defective OSPI process this result is easy to understand.

Intelligent application of relevant data needs to be applied in Seattle. Hopefully Seattle will use MAP testing to assist in evaluating Singapore Math intelligently over the next school year. Singapore Math produced incredible gains in Townsend, Massachusetts over the last several years. Singapore is on the recommended list in California and it is likely to be on the Oregon recommended list due in October.

Yet the math curricula used in the highest performing nation was rated dead last by OSPI.

Seattle needs to make intelligent decisions and has the resources to do so.

We can also finally identify the grade level necessary skills mandated in board policy D44.00.

Seattle is in an excellent position to make great progress over the next year by identifying skills and implementing effective interventions. We can evaluate both interventions and pilot programs through MAP testing.

System improvement through the intelligent application of relevant data can become a reality.

Overall Ranking for All Comprehensive Elementary Programs

Math Connects (Elem) 0.7245
Bridges in Mathematics 0.6872
Investigations 0.6355
Math Expressions 0.6212
Everyday Mathematics 0.5929
Saxon Math (Elem) 0.5814
Growing with Mathematics 0.5746
enVision 0.5681
Progress in Mathematics 0.5532
Math Out of the Box 0.5212
Math Trailblazers 0.5211
Singapore Math 0.3647

Consider the following from Sudhakar

As a person who has spent over 25 years in high tech private sector, I can vouch with personal experience that there is a dire need for both the industry and education to inform each other. I got involved when a group of administrators toured the Intel facility in the late 1980s, and asked managers like me what they would like to see improved. I recall telling them “build teamwork skills”. I had no idea that they would throw everything else out in the process, or at least it seemed like it. It was not until I started volunteering in class rooms that I really started seeing the difference in mind sets. After watching this unfold over a decade, here is the pattern I see emerging.

If one looks at the economy as a whole, where goods and services are provided and consumed, one can broadly classify them as wealth producing and wealth redistribution. In this economy, most of the wealth producing activities like R&D, Engineering, Science, Technology, are in the private sector. The public sector has the lock on wealth redistribution, with programs like social security, medicare, etc. Public education seems to be in a no man’s land in between. Its charter should be enabling wealth creation, by providing skilled and knowledgeable labor pool to the private sector. Yet, because they are funded from the wealth redistribution side of the economy, that is all it seems to appreciate. Layers upon layers of educrats in the system and the colleges of education seem to reinforce the “mission” that instilling a sense of social justice in the students is more important than providing them with world class skills to compete in an increasingly global economy.

I think the only way people will appreciate what is going on is for reality to continuously reinforce that they are on the wrong thought process. A prolonged recession, a depression, unemployed kids moving back in with their fixed income parents, all will go up with time. I just wonder how much worse it has to get before the tide turns.



Anonymous said...

Sudhakar's world view misses a couple of critical points.

1. Without community investment in roads, education, ... infrastructure, the private economy won't create the next google or microsoft or boeing - the private sector and community investment need each other, neither can exist in a vacuum.

Using the right wing phrases like 'wealth distribution' show serious ignorance of the role played by the community in the creation of industries like automobiles, railroads, the semiconductor, bio medical research ...

2. societies whose leadership takes all surplus wealth based on back stabbing, butt kissing, birth and cronyism have been tried around the globe for millenia. Aristocracies don't create wealth, unless you count being employed as 1 of their servants as 'wealth creation'.

If we're going to get the most mileage out of our limited resources, we need optimal resource allocations to reward those who come up with the best ideas, encourage those who work harder implementing ideas, and make sure the competition field is COMPETITIVE, not stacked for cronyism and nepotism, by having a fair competitive field to START with. Fair competition requires uniform work rules, globally, and defining these kinds of rules as wealth destroying enables the worthless aristocrats at the top trying to turn us all into serfs, so that the aristocrats have less competition to be the first pig in the trough.

While the social justice crowd tends to be willfully ignorant of money, engineering, and math, hence crippled in their abilities to add value in determining optimal solutions to difficult problems --- our current system rewards is too geared towards 'rewarding' the lord, barons, dukes, warlords ... of the private sector aristocracy who spend most of their time fighting over who is gonna be the first pig in the front of the trough.

Our kids need a lot more math so that the 6 billion ++ residents of the globe can get clothes, food, water, sewage, education for kids, care for granny and gramps, transportation, housing, health care, power, retraining, ... vacation.

The hand wringers of the social justice crowd are not developing the skills to achieve those goals. The aristocrats only care about being the first pig, let's not hold aspiring first pigs up as role models.

unwillingly anonymous

Sudhakar said...

Dear unwillingly anonymous:

Thanks for your candid comments. I do not think a couple of paragraphs you saw on this blog does justice to my world view. Please feel free to read the blog itsactiontime.blogspot.com

It has more thougths that may interest you.

Going back to this blog, my portrayal of public versus private spending was oversimplified for the sake of brevity. Public INVESTMENT is a huge factor in the progress of nations - I was involved in a project in the 1980s to put the US semiconductor industry back on a competitive trajectory. It took a partnership between the federal government and 14 US semiconductor companies to pull it off.

My issue is with two trends that have been going in the wrong direction:

1. Public investment in infrastructure and R&D has gone down drastically. At the federal level, interest on debt, defense, and social services take the top three spots. The last biggest investment in R&D was NASA in the 1960s. Its budget is now miniscule. Roads and highways may have been the enablers in the last century. In this century, it will be the satellites and fiber optics, and technologies that help feed and provide clean energy to an exploding world population.

2. At the state and local level, education may be the largest investment, but it looks like it is run more like a social service than like an investment. I don't see a customer/provider relationship between our schools and our employers. In order for the US to get its middle class back, we need world class education infrastructure creating world class graduates. It takes all sides to come together to make it happen. That is why I advocate more communication between education leaders and industry leaders.

The rest of your comments relate to basic human nature, which I am afraid, is not something I claim any expertise on.

Happy reading!

Anonymous said...

Wisdom has never made a bigot, but learning has - JB.

The issue civil rights/social justice leaders have regarding curriculum, is that current methods of reform are patronizing and don't work. This is not right-wing thinking which is concerned with school finance reform using standards and AYP, rather than input. The for-profit aspect is that low academic achievement increases the cost of education and creates new opportunities for educating students by opening new schools which can now encompass a variety of technology that is readily accessible to certain groups of people - which by political definition is social fascism.

DOE/NSF/AAAS officials would like the world to believe that some cultures are more adept at math than others. This is not the crux of the issue.

Minorities only want the opportunity to be taught with the same curriculum that is being used in Singapore or as with private schools (traditional curriculum), or if needed something comparable -with even Dr. B's. The fact that better curriculum exists in the US makes this a civil rights issue. Depending on the local school district, school boards adopt curriculum for a variety of reasons, including segregation, ignorance, and perks from salesman.

It has already been shown that students are not even taught standard algorithms, like long division (NCTM response - US students are not mature enough to learn fractions, division, and multiplication. More racist garbage.

Why won't the government be receptive to this very simple

There is a large body of evidence that proves why literacy is at the crux of the debate -

When you examine Asian Americans, their performance goes down significantly using reform mathematics, just as much as Latinos and African Americans.

Yet I have a research report published by Dr. Chen at St Martin's from Lacey WA (funded by OSPI) showing Chinese students outperform American students because of cultural differences. It is the same line of argument used by Lappen at MSU. And it is entirely wrongheaded. For one, Dr. Chen presumes the curriculum is the same in both cultures and it isn't.

A better sample would be a comparison with Asian-Americans using Singapore, Asian-Americans using traditional textbooks, and Asian-Americans using reform textbooks. All of these populations are available in California.

The critical factor is reading level - so of course, there will be differences between non-english speaking Asians and english speaking Asians - for instance, look at TIMMS data between french speaking ESL Asians in Quebec and ESL Asians in Canada.

OSPI would like to publish a simple 'plausible' explanation, but there is no such animal.

Dr. Chen uses Confucianism to support his ideas (idoltry) - Asian respect for teachers. But it is presumptuous and to make racist generalizations shows that he lacks experience - perhaps he should stick to writing textbooks.

You see what I mean - if you write curriculum, you should not be evaluating it and that is exactly what is happenning in the education field. That is how a few select people (e.g. Ann Arbor, Drexel forum, and Dana Center) are directing policy, by providing grants with strings attached and obviously you are going to get back garbage results.

Don't let this blog degenerate into empty political rhetoric. Our schools, teachers, and children deserve better than this.

Anonymous said...

The public needs to blast publishers and the cadre of NSF-funded professors hiding behind NCTM and the MAA. Lets pull their funding. Lets adopt a national curriculum (Singapore) and end social promotion.

There are too many rocks in this parade of idiots. Wouldn't it be nice to shine a light on these flakes. I would start with the darkly lit halls of OSPI templedom.

You write good textbooks by revising and rewriting. You get opinions from students and teachers.

You don't select for the students you want to test. You don't ignore the critics. You don't supplement. You don't use TEP students to test textbooks.

These are racist simpletons and their rhetoric disguised in poorly conceived studies belies complete ignorance.

What types of people do this?

First, you would have to be as arrogant as h...

Deaf, blind, and mute?

Lives in a sun-bleached shell on a deserted beach?

An egotistical ventriloquist where even his puppet falls asleep?

signed 343

Anonymous said...

Here's a bit to chew on...

from the OSPI website, letters of support for the revised math standards. You will notice the usual math reform pseudo experts.


All of them appear connected to the mathsmore website, probably paid for with NSF grant money to promote math with morality and dignity. har har. give the chimps a banana for their effort.

Here's another letter posted from the Secretary of the Washingon Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics - more reform idiocy. This is like a very bad B-movie, lots of fish flopping around. Who is the President and Founder of this little Think-Tank? Let me guess...Ginger?


How about this for a choppy quote?

"I have no doubt that I would not have been nationally recognized for math instruction had Washington State not entered the "reform" era of math."

Yes, no doubt you will earn further and just recognition for promoting quackery and nonsense with the other math flakes. Maybe its the rain that makes math so difficult for Washingtonians - Do you think Ginger?

New Logic: After more revision Washington math standards finally lead from the rear.