Monday, April 6, 2009

Seattle Testimony for 4-08-2009

Good Evening Directors, I’m Dan Dempsey. 4-08-2009

History advises us to profit from the past.

On May 16th, 2007 Rosalind Wise mentioned that Everyday Math was rated as a “promising program” by the US Department of Education. This rating came from a panel without active research Mathematicians. It is not likely that those who designed the criteria for the selection shared the mainstream views of practicing mathematicians and scientists. Ms. Wise failed to mention that this recommendation endorsing 10 Exemplary and Promising programs had been thoroughly discredited in the subsequent days, weeks, and years. Our Seattle Children are now stuck with both the “PromisingEveryday Math and the “ExemplaryConnected Math Project.

Thank you current Directors, for your actions a year ago, which spared most of our High School students from the “ExemplaryIMP, the Interactive Math Program.

At the recent School Board work session, the current Math Program Manager recommended the “Discovering Series” for adoption. She stated that it: Ranked (#2) in state materials rankings, but neglected to effectively deal with the state’s finding of “Mathematically Unsound” and “Unacceptable”. Seattle’s criteria for selection of this program were the same criteria that produced Seattle’s defective k-8 math selections.

Ms. de la Fuente was invited to attend the State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel meeting in Renton. She was busy and declined. She did not send a Seattle representative to a meeting in which the top aligned high school math materials were discussed in depth. The Seattle Administration ignored the meeting and then ignored the results by recommending the “Mathematically Unsound” “Discovering Series”.

Not only are State recommendations ignored, so are the recommendations of the Seattle Transition Math Project. Seattle TMP is planning math program improvements so that students will be adequately prepared for Collegiate Mathematics.

The Seattle Administration sees a conflict between Reform Math and Traditional Math and assures us that that the Administration will strike an appropriate blend of each.

The reality is that the math conflict is between parents and the Seattle administration. The parents want their children to have a reasonable chance for success in college mathematics courses. The Seattle Administration deprives those children of that chance by refusing to use appropriate math materials. Collegiate Math success is based on sound k-12 mathematics preparation. Seattle fails to provide such preparation.

The 12 years of Math disaster in Seattle Schools need not be extended to 17 years please reject the recommendation of the “Discovering Series”.

Thank You,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist 2007-2009


Anonymous said...

Dan, I'm glad you're speacking at the meeting. One thought, though:

What about the students who do NOT plan to go to college? I think de la Fuente thinks that Discovering will be better for them (and is probably trying to convince the board of this). I disagree with this viewpoint, but I think you set yourself up for your points being dismissed if you focus on the "have's" to the exclusion of the "have not's."

I know you only have a limited amount of time, but I think it's crucial that you say something about how this will negatively impact the less advantaged kids, or anything else you say is at risk for losing credibility.

dan dempsey said...

I have dealt with this in direct email communications to the school board. If others wish to testify and make that point for the general public, then great.

I can get this piece done in 2 minutes 56 seconds. It is what it is and it is in the can at this point.

I informed the board that research showed the one size fits all algebra research showed the idea that Discovering can handle all those below grade level kids in algebra is not supported.

dan dempsey said...

It should be noted that district administration is hardly accustomed to the idea that recommendations need to be supported by research. This has not been the case in previous adoptions. A stacked committee makes a recommendation that can not be supported with data and the school board rubber stamps it.

This one could be a first for Seattle, if the board decides that mathematically defective materials will not be adopted.

Anonymous said...

How much more could you say that hasn't already been said by so many others. You might ask if any of them are wearing cotton balls in their ears?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Santorno leaving for Tacoma means there is a major shift in board thinking. It would be better if de la Fuente followed Santorno. Perhaps someone should ask? This is good news for you and your supporters.

Let's hope Tacoma sees better times.

Anonymous said...

Its difficult to predict what this school board is going to do. I don't see much logic in using Prentice Hall with Everyday Math and Connected Math. That's a large gap in thinking for students to jump between eighth and ninth grade.

Honestly, if you're going to do things right then you implement new curriculum beginning in the first grade and work your way up each year. This board isn't serious about getting results. They're doing what they've been told to do.

Everyone involved in curriculum is pretending the elementary adoption is on track. In truth, nothing has been accomplished that can be shown to be any better than the previous adoption. The WASL results prove nothing except for the arrogance of the publishers and their staff.