Friday, April 17, 2009

SPS needs a Math Plan to Somewhere

Dear Seattle School Directors, 4-17-2009

Anna-Maria de la Fuente has made reference to a disagreement of mathematicians, which to you may appear to be a split decision. This disagreement is not a split decision.

OSPI had their instructional materials reviews done by a diverse group, mapping curricula to the WA math standards. Then an independent review was done by two mathematicians of the top three + 1 curricula, looking for mathematical soundness (an overview of the quality of each math program as a whole). When Dr. Steve Wilson was criticized as not independent, another mathematician was hired on the other side of the nation Dr. Harel (CA) and he was harsher than Dr. Wilson on the overall quality of the reform math programs.

Over twelve years Dr. Bergeson's math direction never changed. SBE intervention into the math standards was required by the legislature because Dr Bergeson and her $700,000+ Dana Center consultants were unable to deliver meaningful standards. OSPI's direction has never been for internationally competitive math programs but you as a director should be steering the SPS to develop an internationally competitive math program.

There was no reason for OSPI to hire additional mathematicians
but OSPI did. OSPI hired two known biased individuals, George Bright and James King, to counter the assessments of the independent mathematicians. They were clearly brought into play for the sole purpose of keeping reform math alive in the state.

Dr Bright with a PhD in math education is not a "Mathematician" . He was biased from square one. He was Dr Bergeson's special appointee to help her get the math situation right.

Over the years Dr. King brought in significant dollars to the UW through NSF EHR grants all of which supported reform math. His current career is somewhat reform math dependent (again check the Cleveland IMP data). To call Dr. King an independent mathematician is dishonest. He has published through Key Curriclum Press.

The above appears to be OSPI selecting two people to produce a pre-determined result.

You now have an additional mathematician who is certainly independent Dr. John Lee of UW. His analysis of "Discovering" was very close to that of the other two unbiased mathematicians.

So what is Anna-Maria de la Fuente's point? Why the "Discovering Series"? Why not Prentice Hall?

Seattle has suffered through increasing amounts of unsound math materials and approaches much of it developed and promoted with NSF EHR funding. During this time the achievement gap widened and college remediation rates rose. It is your job to act in the best interests of our children. Look at the books. Look at the SPS results of the last decade. It is time to end the math plan to nowhere.

A lot of parents would like a math plan to college
... Seattle Schools have no such plan at this time. Please develop a plan. Do not just buy more stuff to continue going nowhere.

Attached you will find a Maryland petition from 57 real mathematicians or users of real mathematics. I submit the petition in support of my position that the adoption of reform programs will only compound the current k-8 damage. Please reject the "Discovering" series.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE MAP (2007-2009)


Anonymous said...

the petition is kind of a joke -

since I've spent over 80% of my last 4 years teaching high school math with hundreds and hundreds of students who can't deal with, won't deal with, or don't deal with

9/15 OR 3/5 OR 0.6 OR 60% OR -60%

what the hell does the rest of stuff have to do with ... anything?

success with Alg 1, Geometry and Alg 2 !?!? um, yeah ... I wish.


Anonymous said...

Irresponsible teachers who accept ineffective curriculum; - who believe it is the district's decision and not theirs - eventually pay for their neglect. It is a form of self-abuse in terms of the thousands of hours spent writing lesson plans, attending pro-hour meetings, and time in the classroom with apathetic students. The results are before everybody else - we have hs students who are not prepared for careers in college or technical studies. If this was not intentional, then why wasn't it foreseen. The teachers are as much to blame as the publishers and authors of the textbooks, but their blame is for being human. The textbooks are another story - 'Math in Context' isn't even a textbook - one would be hard pressed to even find what it was?! Which districts use this textbook? It cost millions to publish. So where is it!

Anonymous said...

For the past 20 years the math reform movement has treated parents and teachers criticisms as a kind of joke. When do think this sort of abuse will stop. Who is more criminal? Why are we spending billions on textbooks that aren't fit for learning?

Anonymous said...

There is some confusion in the Dancis title of the article which actually applauds California's reversal - "Be wary of leading MD students down the California Path to Remedial Math.."

During the period, when "Reform" instruction was becoming official state policy and was being increasingly used in the California schools, with "pretend" Algebra replacing real Algebra, the remediation rate in mathematics (Algebra) skyrocketed from 23% in 1989 to 54% in 1998 for freshmen in the Cal. State University System. Absurd. (I'm told that this system admits the better 30% of the high school graduating class.) See chart.

In December 1997, there was a counter-coup, the Reform math orders were cancelled in CA. Free, once again, to teach real Algebra, the CA high schools proceeded to do so. The result was a dramatic drop in the remediation rate in mathematics for freshmen in the Cal. State University System, from 54% in 1998 down to 37% in 2002. For African Americans the drop was from 80% to 64%. For the data, go to

Also from 1990 to 1997, only Math Reform textbooks could be purchased by CA schools. In 1997, elementary school teachers free, once again, to teach reasonable math, proceeded to do so. The result was that the 1998 Grade 2 cohort, in which only 43% had scored at 50th percentile or above on the Stanford 9 Math test, grew up to be the 2002 Grade 6 cohort, then 60% scored at 50th percentile or above. That's a cohort change of 17%."

Your link to the U of M math petition is no longer working...

This was the petition to remove TERC math from Fredericksburg. The school board went ahead and adopted TERC.

Lets start a stopwatch and see when the district decides that TERC is a big waste of time - Ans: When the school district has been sufficiently whitened.

dan dempsey said...

It was said:
Your link to the U of Maryland math petition is no longer working...
It is working at 8AM PDT on 4-19-09..
Please try it again.

Anonymous said...

This is what I pasted that you tyed at the end of your posting.

"You requested a nonexistent document"

dan dempsey said...

try this:

Anonymous said...

Just when you think you have it right.

LAUSD (600,000 students) did not follow the advice of the SBE (reject the reform standards) and look where they are today - much worse than before.

1997 was an important year for LAUSD (Sid Thompson retired after 30 years of running the second largest district in the US)

"Thompson considers one of his greatest achievements the Call to Action plan that sets five-year goals for increasing student academic standards.

The plan calls for students to be able to read by the end of third grade and to succeed in English-only classes after five years or less in bilingual programs.

It also demands that students pass middle school algebraalgebra, branch of mathematics concerned with operations on sets of numbers or other elements that are often represented by symbols. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic and gains much of its power from dealing symbolically with elements and operations (such as
..... Click the link for more information.; enroll in four or more college preparatory courses and be ready for a job or for college by high school graduation.

But Thompson's success with his action plan has been spotty spot·ty
adj. spot·ti·er, spot·ti·est
1. Lacking consistency; uneven.

2. Having or marked with spots; spotted.


spot .

While the percentage of bilingual students enrolling in English-only classes increased slightly from 8.4 percent in 1995 to 8.7 percent in 1996, it's still a far cry from achieving the plan's goals of having 95 percent of bilingual students transition to English-only classes in five years or less.

Thompson said the academic reforms have been slowed by the district's urban nature.

``The vast bulk of our kids come from homes in a survival mode,'' said Thompson who said 47 percent of the district's 667,000 students are limited English speakers. ``There's a tendency of kids in these kinds of environments to miss the support'' they need to succeed academically.

Thompson said parents need to become involved in their children's education if the reforms are to succeed.

``We have to work more to get parent support and get parents to understand their obligation,'' Thompson said. ``If we lay back on the oars and say we can't get any pull because we can't get parents on board, that's an excuse. The circle includes parents, administrators and teachers.''

Making strides in school reform

Part of Thompson's academic improvements include LEARN, the school reform coalition formally known as the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now.

Mike Roos, LEARN's founder and chief executive officer, praised Thompson's unhesitatingun·hes·i·tat·ing
1. Prompt to act, move, or express oneself; ready: I gave my unhesitating approval.

2. Unfaltering; steadfast.
..... Click the link for more information. support for the district's largest reform program.

``He saw LEARN as a vehicle for beginning to move the district in ways that his predecessors never dreamed of,'' said Roos, who said Thompson managed to allocate millions of dollars in training and support for the 4-year-old program.

Thompson also takes pride in uniting teachers and administrators to create a $1.5 million intervention plan for troubled schools.

``That was really big for me,'' Thompson said. ``We had to come to an agreement. We've never had an agreement on something as emotional'' as finding solutions for dysfunctional schools.

Eli Brent, president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, said both teachers and administrators had to put aside their differences to craft the intervention plan, which calls for identifying failing schools, training intervention teams and sending those teams to troubled schools.

``That all of us gave up things is a mark of his leadership,'' Brent said of Thompson.

School board member Julie Korenstein, however, said Thompson failed to unify the board during contentious issues such as funding for the Belmont High School Belmont High School may refer to:
Belmont High School (Los Angeles) in Los Angeles, California
Belmont High School (Belmont, Massachusetts) in Belmont, Massachusetts
Belmont High School (Mississippi) in Belmont, Mississippi http://www.
project in downtown Los AngelesDowntown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, located close to the geographic center of the metropolitan area. The sprawling, multi-centered megacity is such that its downtown core is often considered just another district like Hollywood ...."

Now 10 years later....LEARN is back but reformulated as GREEN DOT SCHOOLS.

"Launched by businessman-philanthropist Richard Riordan before he became mayor of Los Angeles, LEARN was headed by Mike Roos, a former state assemblyman and political insider.

The movement started with hundreds of civic and community leaders defining a plan over months of meetings and then taking the strategy out to school sites, where stakeholders spent long hours training and developing their own organizations.

But LEARN began foundering in 1999 after it was hit by a perfect storm of events: Roos quit, new Superintendent Ramon Cortines recentralized authority downtown, and visionary teachers-union leader Helen Bernstein was killed when she was hit by a car while campaigning for city charter reform.

Reflecting on the widespread backing of the public, political and educational leaders that LEARN had, Roos today sees sharp contrasts with Villaraigosa's top-down reform effort, brokered in a backroom deal with powerful teachers unions.

"All the ideas that are currently being proposed suffer from the lack of genuine community engagement," Roos said in an interview last week.

"Ours was a much different approach. We brought everybody we possibly could into the room, but we really were very quiet until we were ready with a consensus plan. There were very few dissenters.

"We found that if you're locked out of the room, it just breeds contempt and suspicion and it devolves trust. We went the opposite way. Everybody was in the room - parent groups, leaders in the business community, leaders in the nonprofit community - we had every organization head that had anything to do with children."

At the outset in 1991, LEARN brought together 635 civic and community members to debate various ideas until they agreed on a plan they believed would effectively turn schools around.

Villaraigosa's original intent was to take over L.A. schools directly and turn the superintendent into an education czar with a mandate to give greater autonomy in some areas to local schools and the communities they serve.

But that unleashed the most heated debate on school reform since LEARN came on the scene, and has led to deals that have produced much less clear authority lines and prompted the school board and Superintendent Roy Romer to mount an aggressive campaign in defense of their record.

At the same time, it has created an opening for others to push their own agendas for local empowerment, including the mayors of smaller cities that are part of LAUSD and Steve Barr, head of the highly successful Green Dot charter high school movement.

Earlier this month, Barr launched the Los Angeles Parents Union to organize local communities to take over their neighborhood schools. Green Dot's goals include creating campuses with less than 500 students, setting high expectations for students, paying teachers more and giving parents, principals and teachers control over budget and curriculum at the school-site level.

Barr said the key lesson to learn from LEARN's demise is not to put all the hopes and dreams of the program on one person. He attributes the program losing steam to the death of Bernstein. A successful program, he said, needs to have the backing and involvement of the public.

"When she died, it seemed to take all the energy out. That's always a scary thing. You have to re-create yourself in other people. One lesson I've learned is if the main person is gone, can you create a sustainable organization?"

Amid criticism that the growing number of factions splintering off the LAUSD reform movement could stymie real change, those who have studied mayoral takeover believe it could have a positive impact by sparking dialogue and engaging the public.

Professor Francis Shen, a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and co-author of a study five years in the works on the effects of mayoral-control school systems, sees the intensity of the debate in Los Angeles as potentially helpful over time.

Los Angeles is different from other cities like Boston, Chicago and New York when they were on the path toward mayoral control because there was more "unilateral movement and control working in partnership with a superintendent" to determine the best reform strategy, Shen said.

"Strong opposition is not new..."

What I find striking are the parallels between Obama's rise and Roos with regard to reform in Chicago Public Schools. (Riordan and Daley)

dan dempsey said...

I learned a lot from the above long comment.

Anonymous said...

What many might not realize is that the 'success for all' slogan way back in mathusalah's time meant that ALL middle school students would be using reform textbooks to learn algebra! in the eighth grade. I believe since that time the meaning has been reworked into something even less meaningful.