Thursday, June 11, 2009

Court Challenge of Seattle Math Text Adoption

Court Challenge of Seattle Math Text Adoption

A trio of plaintiffs has challenged Seattle Public Schools' recent adoption of the Discovering series of high school math texts. The three Seattle citizens -- a parent of an SPS student, a grandparent, and a UW professor of atmospheric sciences, contend that the textbooks will fail to adequately reduce the achievement gap between Caucasians and non-Caucasians, and between wealthy and poorer students. This failure will result from lack of "Explicit Instruction."

Seattle, Washington -- June 8, 2009 -- An appeal of the Seattle School Board's controversial May 6th decision to adopt the Discovering series of high school math texts was filed in King County Superior Court on Friday, June 5, 2009. Plaintiffs are DaZanne Porter, an African American and mother of an 8th grade student in Seattle Public Schools, Martha McLaren, retired Seattle math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fourth grader, and Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.
Their appeal of the School Board's 4 to 3 decision was filed by attorney Keith Scully of Gendler and Mann, LLP. The Declaration cites recent WASL data showing a continually widening achievement gap in mathematics among ethnic minority and free-lunch students in 4th, 7th, and 10th grades. The plaintiffs state that this widening achievement gap corresponds with the expanded use of "inquiry based" texts books in Seattle public schools. According to their declaration, the SPS staff knew that the Discovering series had been deemed "unsound" in a study commissioned by the State Board of Education.

Ms. Porter, parent of an African American eighth grader and a teacher who is a reading coach at a Seattle elementary school, states that her son has already experienced unnecessary confusion and frustration caused by "inquiry based" curricula in Seattle elementary and middle schools. She wants the District to adopt a "balanced" text such as that recommended by the State Board of Education, by the Holt Publishing Company, which she says will give her son a much better chance to learn math skills needed for college and career. "I can't afford the tutoring that wealthier parents can afford in order for their children to learn the math skills they don't learn in Seattle Public Schools," stated Ms. Porter. "I've looked at these math textbooks, and they are not parent friendly, which means I will not be able to help my son, which will put him further behind."

Ms. McLaren, retired Seattle Math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fourth grader, states that as a math teacher and math substitute for 8 years, she witnessed students floundering with "inquiry based" math curricula throughout the district. She has spoken with numerous teachers who confirm her observation that the "inquiry-based" textbooks", used by students working in small groups, have resulted in confusion, discontent, and lost time for math education. She reports that the Seattle School District has denied the relationship between the widening achievement gap and the use of inquiry-based curricula. The achievement gap began to expand after the introduction of inquiry based materials at all grade levels in the late 90s, and continued to grow with the adoption of inquiry based middle school texts (CMP2) in 2006 and elementary texts (Everyday Math) in 2007. The elementary textbooks which district administrators predicted would reduce the achievement gap are instead linked to increases in the gaps for Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Low Income and Limited English students.

Professor Mass teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. He has had to lower the math level of his classes due to the declining math competency of students entering the University of Washington. He states that use of "integrated" and "inquiry-based" math curricula in school districts such as Seattle are a major cause of these problems.

The Seattle Public School District has 20 days from June 5 to deliver the record of information available to it in making its adoption decision.

Contact: Martha McLaren ::

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My best wishes to you all. This will be ground-breaking. My only wish would have been that the school board had listened to parents and students. California has its own problems, but nothing compares to Seattle.