Driving liberals, dhimmis and illegal alien apologists absolutely insane since 2005...

The School Board Circus

By Greg L | 22 January 2009 | Prince William County | 67 Comments

Tonight’s meeting of the Prince William County School Board was an absolute circus.  If you have never seen outright and obvious contempt on the part of public employees and even some elected representatives of the citizenry they are supposed to serve, having not experienced the pleasure of visiting a Soviet gulag, you might want to drop in on one of these when citizens are trying to get something fixed.  Tonight’s utterly shameful and shocking display absolutely demonstrates a dire need for some major changes in our public school system, as this embarrassment cannot be allowed to continue.

The issue that exposed this was of course the discussions regarding the math program to be used in our schools.  I am rather unimpressed with it and how it has been serving my school-aged child, so I took the opportunity to attend tonight’s meeting and share my concerns with the board.  This first meeting in the board’s new and rather glamorous digs brought out a record crowd, with attendance somewhat on par with some of the more interesting meetings of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, filling the cavernous meeting room.  The first thirty or so speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting were almost entirely teachers and principals, who universally sung the praises of Math Investigations.  Some of the comments by our public servants were pretty surprising — that the parents concerned about the program are stupid, and that ’spectators shouldn’t tell the coach how the game should be played’, and other disdainful comments underlining a rather hostile attitude by a minority of these teachers.

Later on we learned that someone in the school system sent out an email to all teachers begging them to come to the board meeting and put pressure on the board.  Seeing so many teachers there all marching in lockstep trying to drown out the concerns of parents was enormously disturbing.  It’s not like the school board doesn’t listen to what teachers have to say, and tying up the board meeting for about an hour when this is the opportunity for parents to discuss their concerns felt wrong to me.  You’d think they’d be more interested in addressing the problems these parents had, rather than trying to deny these problems exist.

After an hour and a half of public comment and a few other matters, the board took up the discussion item, not reaching much of a conclusion, but for the most part expressing an interest in trying to work towards some solutions.  They didn’t end up coming to any resolution of the issue, but are going to try to collect more information.  I don’t mind that they’re going to take some time to get this right.  Had the meeting ended at this point, although there was some bad behavior and passions ran high, it wasn’t all that remarkable other than being a well attended meeting with lots of discussion.  I was particularly impressed with Milt Johns, Denita Ramirez, Betty Covington and Julie Lucas, all of whom wanted to find out more about the issues parents were facing.  Gil Trenum and Dr. Otaigbe were interested in finding out ways to offer parents some choices.  Grant Lattin is a fan of the Math Investigations program, but at this point he was at least listening.   Don Richardson, my own representative, was not.

After a short second round of public commentary from folks that signed up right before the meeting, we had an opportunity for board member comments.  Then all hell broke loose.

Grant Lattin started this out with an attack against one of the parents who wants the county to drop the math investigations program.  It’s hugely bad form to publicly attack folks by name from the dais when they’re not allowed to respond, and I was pretty shocked.  I’d heard about some of his antics at previous board meetings, but took those reports with a grain of salt, and hoping it was an aberration.  Apparently those criticisms were right on the mark.  Lattin got pretty personal, and this was rather embarrassing.

Then it was Don Richardson’s turn.  He had been pretty vocal earlier saying that he would never listen to parents and only trust professional educators, and this time he went far beyond that to endorse the “you parents are idiots and shouldn’t tell us what to do” bit that a few teachers had ponied up.  Richardson was far more adamant and aggressive than any of the others, saying that criticizing board actions taken in the approval of the Math Investigations amounted to “defamation” and nearly threatening this parent.  This was so completely over the top it left everyone stunned.  I guess for Richardson, criticism by average citizens of the behavior of our public bodies should merit criminal prosecution.  Richardson completely dismissed any of the criticisms or other observations made about the Math Investigations program, swallowed wholesale everything any public employee said, and exhibited a level of utter contempt towards his own constituents I have never before thought possible by an elected official.

I hope there’s a way to put some video of Richardson’s antics up on the web to share with folks.  I can’t imagine anyone watching these outbursts and not immediately wondering whether Virginia’s laws regarding recalls could potentially apply here. As an elected official, his behavior is utterly inexcusable.  If it weren’t bad enough that Richardson wants to do away with having an invocation at School Boaard meetings while representing the conservative Gainesville District, displaying such visible contempt for the parents he supposedly represents when they’re trying to address problems with their children’s education is completely deplorable.

We simply cannot tolerate an “us versus them” attitude by members of the school board or by some of our teachers, as if parents are somehow an unwelcome annoyance that gets in the way of molding children.  Incidents like these undermine the faith residents have in the public school system and detract from the partnership between the school system and parents that is essential to educational success.  Either the county school system reforms itself, which I don’t see happening anytime soon while board members are acting even worse that some of the poster children for bad attitudes we saw this evening.  It will probably fall to the electorate to reform our schools, and the place to start is with removing Don Richardson.  Then we can get to the root of why some public employees believe that parents are their enemy and decisively resolve that problem.

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  1. Johnson said on 22 Jan 2009 at 6:58 am:
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    Elitist politicians are now the norm. They do as they wish, vote however their lobbyists steer them and show utter contempt for the electorate. After all, the teeming masses have served their purpose by electing them and should shut up and obey. Thanks to the antics of the Gang of Four on the Gloucester, VA BOCS, local pols do not fear recall or impeachment and will now do as they truly please.

    It’s going to be a wild ride, folks!

  2. freedom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 7:07 am:
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    …but Greg, you seem to think that YOU (and NOT government) are responsible for the development and growth of your children. Don’t you realize that professional educators and elected officials know what’s best for them? How could you be so naive?

    What’s really scarey is the mindset of “just leave it to us, we know what’s best for your children”…and to me, what’s particularly worrisome is the manipulated presentation of history and the social sciences. When will be the day that children start bringing home “little red books” to teach Mom and Dad how things really ought to be?

    What a threat that a voucher system (giving parents the opportunity to choose the course of instruction for their children) would pose to all of this…but that would present competition to the government and we certainly can’t have that!! Sigh…

  3. BattleCat said on 22 Jan 2009 at 7:23 am:
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    It sometimes boggles my mind how much money could be made if the free market got it’s hands on the educational system, and how much better our schools would be if they had to excel to attract dollars, vouchers, etc. I could see, especially in this area, people lining up like crazy to get their kids into a privately run school where education is mindful that the increase of accessible data doesn’t mean we’re automatically smarter than those who came before us. Take a look at letters written during the Civil War and letters written today and tell me our education system is so much better today.

  4. Flavius Maximus said on 22 Jan 2009 at 8:42 am:
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    “…but Greg, you seem to think that YOU (and NOT government) are responsible for the development and growth of your children. Don’t you realize that professional educators and elected officials know what’s best for them? How could you be so naive?”

    It takes a “village” to raise child…right? I wonder when the government is just going to take our children at age 4, and put them in state schools. No, little Johnny doesn’t have the aptitude to be a doctor, a lawyer, or accountant. No, we, the professional educators (read teacher’s union), acting on the authority of the state, think that little Johnny is best suited to be a truck-driver. We have noticed that he seems to like playing with toy trucks all the time. The fact that he is 4 years old, doesn’t factor into our assessment. That is an extraneous variable…..

  5. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 8:42 am:
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    I am one of the parents Mr Richardson and Lattin chose to attack last night. This meeting was beyond insulting.

    All I and other parents have ever stated was that we believe PWC’s mathematics instructional program lacks the academic rigor we believe necessary to provide our children with the foundational skills they need to succeed in math. We had the audacity to ask for choice.

    And for that we have been accused of spreading mis-information, we’ve been called stupid, and last night we were called mindless automatons who simply echo the sentiments of our great leader with nary a thought in our heads and are lucky we can walk and chew gum at the same time. One parent actually engaged Mr Lattin after meeting to discuss her child’s problems and he said maybe your kid just doesn’t get math.

    The school board asked for this. They know Investigations was controversial when they selected it. They knew it had engendered controversy almost every time it was introduced. They knew it had been kicked to the curb in California (and has subsequently been kicked out of Washington State and Utah) for failing to meet minimum state standards. They knew it didn’t meet states standards in Virginia. They knew all of this and it didn’t matter. Like a bunch of lemmings jumping off a cliff they charged forward and accepted the curriculum.

    Richardson would have us stick with a failing curriculum until 2011 when it’s time to select a new curriculum just to stand his ground. Lattin, well he’d just like us all sit back and enjoy it while the school system messes up our kids education. Strange - neither of them have children subjected to the program so they can sit back and make all sorts of moralistic statements without worrying how they’ll affect their kids.

    Interesting that the only school board member with a child admits that he’s uncomfortable with the program and teaches his child traditional math at home.

    See here’s the thing. We made a conscious decision not to push the county to dump Investigations because we know some kids, parents, and teachers actually liked the program and we didn’t want to take it away from them. All we asked was that our children be given a choice. Apparently that makes us pretty rotten people.

    I so hope the board meeting in it’s unedited entirety is available on the podcast. Both Lattin and Richardson’s comments will look lovely on YouTube and should serve as lessons to future GOP hopefuls on how not to tick off your electorate.

  6. jp said on 22 Jan 2009 at 8:45 am:
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    “Take a look at letters written during the Civil War and letters written today and tell me our education system is so much better today.”

    I do love your comment about “letters written today.”

    Letters written today look more like “OMG LOL ROFL :)”

    The written letter is a dying form of communication. Unfortunately.

  7. Anonymous said on 22 Jan 2009 at 8:49 am:
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    BattleCat: “Take a look at letters written during the Civil War and letters written today and tell me our education system is so much better today.”

    Excerpt from a Nov 30 1862 letter from Private Newton Scott (http://www.civilwarletters.com/scott_11_30_1862.html): “We left Keokuk on th [sic] 24th inst [sic] & came down the River Stoping [sic] Every now & then at the little towns By [sic] the Way I can tell that those little towns on the Mo. Side of the River are Hard [sic] looking Places little [sic] Dirty [sic] cabins with nothing to Sell [sic] Hardly But [sic] whiskey & the People [sic] looks [sic] to Suit [sic] the Places [sic]”

    Excerpt from a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Post: “Although the bombers did not have police records, as Mr. Zakaria noted, more than a year before the 2005 attacks, British intelligence had identified two of them through their connection with another al-Qaeda cell in Britain. Britain’s problem with terrorism has more to do with the terrorist infrastructure that al-Qaeda established there well before the attacks (as reported by the Sunday Times in 2005) than with the simple alienation and radicalization that Zakaria claims is responsible. The absence of a similar al-Qaeda infrastructure in the United States, at least so far, is the most compelling explanation of why there has been no terrorist attack here since Sept. 11, 2001. ”

    Our education system is so much better today.

  8. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:00 am:
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    To bad our kids can’t add and subtract.

  9. Emma said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:08 am:
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    Unnecessary commas, misplaced modifiers and run-on sentences in a modern Post LTE do not impress me as being “better” than the 1862 letter, Anonymous.

  10. Sokratease said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:24 am:
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    What math curricula do other countries, that produce more scientists and engineers, use? Anyone know? Anyone care?

  11. Anonymous said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:28 am:
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    Emma: lack of punctuation, run-on sentences, improper spelling (even for 1862), improper verb/subject agreement, random capitalization, and a host of other errors don’t impress me.

    Face it: education today is infinitely better than it was 100 years ago.

    That being said, Investigations sounds like a crock of donkey poo.

    I attribute this nonsense to the runaway bureaucracy that’s infesting our school systems. If it were up to me, I’d issue all school employees the following questionnaire:

    Are you:
    a teacher?
    a principal?
    the superintendent?
    a custodian?
    the librarian?
    a guidance councilor?
    a lunch lady?
    a secretary?
    If you have not marked one of the above positions, congratulations, you are now fired. Also note, that each school is allowed two custodians, one librarian, one guidance councilor, two secretaries, and three lunch ladies (one to cook, one to dish slop, and one to take money). If there are excess numbers in any of these positions, there will be additional firings. Thank you and have a nice day.

    Seriously, the reason there’s no resources to be spent on actual learning is the fact that we’re employing “Assistant Media Specialists” and “Vice Principals” and “Mediators” and “Diversity Specialists” and a host of other pointless middle management types. And we have to pay for a spiffy new building to put many of them in, with a big auditorium for meetings. Got a cafeteria or a gym in one of the schools? Great, hold your meetings there.

  12. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:42 am:
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    That would be Singapore Maths - used in various incarnations by the countries which have topped the TIMMS scores for years.

  13. Free Man said on 22 Jan 2009 at 9:51 am:
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    Public education in this country has become a sham. My nine-year-old granddaughter has great difficulty with this “Investigative Math” approach. What happened to good old cipherin’? it worked for me.

    And to “Anonymous,” anyone can find an example of a 19th century letter with poor spelling and grammar. That doesn’t prove anything. Have you read The Federalist Papers lately? Originally, they were published in newspapers all across the eastern seabord to sell the idea of our new constitution. They were written to the everyday American of the 1780’s.

    Home schooling is the way to go. Let’s take back ownership of the education process. Shaping the minds of our youngsters is OUR responsibility, not the state’s.

  14. Belle Hertanez said on 22 Jan 2009 at 12:25 pm:
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    URL for the meeting in case anyone is interested:

    Board comments are within the last 20 minutes or so.

  15. Anchor Baby said on 22 Jan 2009 at 1:49 pm:
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    MI == Math Ebonics

  16. AWCheney said on 22 Jan 2009 at 3:01 pm:
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    It’s amazingly easy to rid yourself of an unwanted member of the School Board…just recruit the right candidate for the job who is willing to put out the shoe leather to win. There’s plenty of time to do it. Let me know, Greg, and I’ll do a precinct targeting list with walking instructions for you…I’ve done it before.

  17. anon said on 22 Jan 2009 at 3:10 pm:
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    Monster said “Interesting that the only school board member with a child admits that he’s uncomfortable with the program and teaches his child traditional math at home”

    I was told that 4 or 5 of the board members have children in county schools, but only 2 have elementary school age children. The remaining officials have teen or grown children or no children.

    How can any of them tell parents to “just shut up we know what is right” because Mr. Richardson and Mr. Lattin aren’t the one who has to deal with the eventual impact of bad math on my 2 kids. I am the one who will have to pay for tutors, stay up late trying to help them through algebra, watch their GPAs and their confidence go down, and to see their chances at select colleges evaporate. At that point, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Lattin don’t give a bean about my child.

    So how dare anyone tell me that it isn’t my right to stand up for my child.

  18. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 3:21 pm:
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    Sorry about that - I should have written the only school board members with a child affected by the program. To my knowledge there is only one board member with a child in 4th grade or lower. The other members with children still in school have children in higher grades.

    “Just shut up we know what is right” isn’t an exact quote but it captures the sentiment.

  19. ed said on 22 Jan 2009 at 3:27 pm:
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    Even though most of those opposed to MI have higher math degrees and/or education degrees. Great, isn’t it.

  20. Anchor Baby said on 22 Jan 2009 at 3:46 pm:
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    A few options still remain;

    Vote out those School Board members who will not support a MI opt-out (or what I believe should be an opt-in)

    Initiate a county referendum to seek term limits for school board members

    Initiate a county referendum for the BOCS to assume operational authority over PWCS.

    MI and the actions of PWCS has changed my opinion on vouchers - I’m now for them.

  21. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 4:03 pm:
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    I’ve always been a big supporter of public education, but my experience with public education is convincing me more and more of the value of vouchers.

  22. Mark said on 22 Jan 2009 at 4:45 pm:
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    Ahhhh…wonder why so many of our young vote democrat in the elections? It’s because the democrats are in control of the school system. The older they get out of school, the wiser some of them get and move more towards a middle ground.

    The mindset of public education…

    You will:

    Enjoy diversity, no matter what your personal beliefs are
    Accept everything that the Public School system says, with no questions
    Parrot the School Systems beliefs
    Give us enormous sums of money so we can hire the Assistants we need to do the job of one
    Enjoy the illegals we educate at your expense. We know best, not you
    Not enjoy Free Speech, only the Speech the School System sanctions
    Sit there and take it when we tell you parents to stay the hell out of education

    Any questions? Good. Now go be good little citizens, go back to your houses, shut up and tell little Johnny that we, the educators, know best. Have a nice day!

  23. Anonymous said on 22 Jan 2009 at 5:17 pm:
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    Vouchers and/or homeschooling. That’s the way to go!

  24. Monster_Mom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 5:19 pm:
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    I’m just not sure we’ll be able to get vouchers through the General Assembly in enough time to help my kids - which means I’m stuck with the PWC School Board. Whoopie…..

  25. BattleCat said on 22 Jan 2009 at 6:07 pm:
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    And I could post my own two letters, one from the mid 19th century and one from today that would equally prove my point. Still, you thought you were being clever, didn’t you? I’m so sorry it didn’t work this time. Keep trying, though!

  26. PWC_Gal said on 22 Jan 2009 at 6:16 pm:
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    I have had my own disagreements with Don Richardson before we decided that we didn’t like where SS PWCPS was sailing, and pulled all of our kids out in 2002 for private schools. Best decision we ever made. The contrast between the pablum served up by the PWCPS and the academic rigor expected & demanded in most private schools is remarkable.

    To Don’s credit though, he has always been responsive and returned my calls.
    Queen Beauchamp never saw fit to respond to the peasants. That being said, his behavior towards concerned parents at this meeting is unacceptable. It is taxpayers that are funding this. Last time I checked, Don wasn’t chair of some great private foundation that was writing the checks for all of this. What can I say, he’s a transplant from NJ and sees the school board as a mere stepping stone for even greater political ambition. Beware!

    I think vouchers are the way to go….for every family. Freedom of choice is important, and competition is a death knell for mediocrity.

  27. BattleCat said on 22 Jan 2009 at 7:08 pm:
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    Oh, not to belabor the point, Anonymous at 8,

    In order to prove, via your letters, that education today is so much better than the middle of the 19th century, we’re going to need a little more info.
    Specifically, the education level of Private Newton Scott, along with the education level of the author of your letter to the editor. I KNOW you wouldn’t be comparing apples to bowling balls, right? I’ll give you that education is more accessible today, no argument there, but better? Reminds me of something from just a little over 3 years ago. In the Carroll County, MD public school system, classes (1st grade) were split into groups, of varying sizes, based on test scores, reading ability, math ability, etc. The education was varied based on achievement, and the brightest (or more advanced, if you like) were split and challenged more. That program no longer exists today, because we wouldn’t want to acknowledge that some kids might be more academically inclined than others. In many ways, I’ve seen kids artificially held back in order to keep everyone the same. Better? Might have to sell that somewhere else.

  28. Loudoun Insider said on 22 Jan 2009 at 7:36 pm:
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    Anchor Baby, unfortunately, this being a Dillon Rule state and all, PWC government (BOS) would need state authorization to assume operational control over the schools. I hate to mention this, but Loudoun Delegate David Poisson has a bill in that I totally support that would allow counties the option of converting the schools to a department under the county administrator and Board of Supervisors. I hope it gets some support - it has the Loudoun School Board and the school administration all up in arms.

  29. freedom said on 22 Jan 2009 at 7:58 pm:
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    With the goings-on in the PWC school system, isn’t the growing interest in home schooling and/or a voucher system amazing? While they’re willing to experiment with the edcuation of our children, they (at least my school board representative) REFUSE to “experiment” with financially rewarding teachers based upon their performance.

    Unfortunately, vouchers just won’t happen — if vouchers were to be paid, even lower income families could send their children to effetive schools….schools that respond to those who pay the fare. The teachers’ union and obedient school board members just won’t let that happen. Otherwise, public schools and the school board could no longer be so arrogant and insolent; they’d have to either change or close their doors and go home as a business defeated.

  30. anon said on 22 Jan 2009 at 8:45 pm:
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    My wife and I are both Electrical Engineers. My kid is in Fairfax County doing the partial-product and lattice multiplication crap. He gets math but he (and his parents) are having trouble doing this. He’s in 3rd grade GT and they haven’t gone beyond multiplying 2 digit numbers. I can see why they haven’t using these overcomplicated methods. We are teaching him to multiply n-digit (n now up to 4) numbers using the method we grew up with and still use today. He is not even being introduced to the traditional way as an alternative. I can see that we are going to have to repeat our tutoring with division.

    Some of his homework and class exercises have him multiply using his “favorite strategy”. I can’t wait to see the teacher’s grading and feedback. Those Education majors better be careful about who they call “stupid”.

  31. Ron said on 22 Jan 2009 at 10:11 pm:
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    anon 8:45 PM:

    I hope your son’s teacher actually gives back test grades. My son’s teacher (also Fairfax County) doesn’t.

  32. sally can't add said on 22 Jan 2009 at 10:14 pm:
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    Wow, your child is multiplying 2 digit numbers in 3rd grade? you are far ahead of my child’s 3rd grade class because they have still be doing addition and subtraction of 2 and 3 digit numbers all year and they are JUST GETTING READY to start learning 0-3 multiplication facts in our fine PWCPS.

    how do we get the ball rolling on pushing for vouchers and how do we send our support to the folks in richmond for moving the school system under the county?

  33. Steve Santee said on 22 Jan 2009 at 10:32 pm:
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    There is now an action item (i.e. a vote) on the Feb 4th agenda to provide a choice of math instruction for 5th grade. This is a great first step. Personally, I would like to see it extended to all of the grade levels though.

    The recommendation for a vote reads:

    That the Prince William County School Board direct the Superintendent that the textbook series “Investigations in Number, Data and Space” shall not be used as the primary textbook for 5th Grade instruction, but materials in the series may be used to supplement the currently approved 5th Grade textbook.

  34. Steve Santee said on 22 Jan 2009 at 11:15 pm:
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    I didn’t read the text carefully the first time (still sleep deprived from the last few nights). It looks like the vote would actually suspend the implementation of 5th grade MI.

  35. sally can't add said on 22 Jan 2009 at 11:45 pm:
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    At least it is a step in the right direction. I will be very interested to watch the vote on this agenda item, as will others. I am also watching to see what the follow up action is on the discussion of opt in /parental choice for a traditional math program for the other grade levels.

  36. Casanova Frankenstein said on 23 Jan 2009 at 12:26 am:
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    Let’s call Math “Investigations” for what it is…

    Counting on your fingers and then taking off your shoes and socks so you can count on your toes, too.

  37. Greg L said on 23 Jan 2009 at 12:44 am:
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    Were it only that good. I asked my first-grader what seven minus one was, and she hadn’t a clue how to figure it out. We had to SHOW HER how to count on her fingers. Seriously.

    This is quite a bit worse than counting on your fingers. It’s playing games in a group in the hopes that the hidden mathematical properties that the game involves will somehow reveal themselves to the students and enable them to solve algebraic equations in the near future. The only problem is that they can’t perform any of the fundamental mathematical algorithms needed in order to get even close to algebra.

    If this was the sauce on top of a meaty foundation of basic math, I think I’d be happy about this program. Showing different ways to solve problems is a great thing, and I actually appreciate showing kids all sorts of strategies that help them understand why they’re getting the answers they are. The problem is that this is the ONLY instruction they’re getting, and it’s leaving them awfully under-prepared for actually being able to perform.

  38. Anchor Baby said on 23 Jan 2009 at 9:54 am:
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    Loudon Insider,

    24.2-684.1 details the method for creating a petition for a ballot referendum to revert control of a school board back to appointed members as opposed to elected officials.

    While the BOCS would not have ‘direct’ control over the PWCS they would excercise a level of control by appointing the membership.

  39. Monster_Mom said on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:11 am:
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    I had to teach my children how to count on their fingers and toes as well when they were in Investigations Grade 1. Then I bought Singapore and started following that program. My oldest is in 2nd grade and does 3 digit addition and subtraction with carrying / borrowing, has learned what multiplication and division are, and knows most of his multiplication and division facts. He also is able to complete word problems with 2 or more steps with ease. Just for the heck of it I printed out the 3rd grade SOL tests which have been released to the public from the DOE web site and give them to him. He got an 88%, and he is in 2nd grade.

    SS - that action item - I wonder whether it has anything to do with Greg’s previous article on Independent Hill Being a Suburb of Chicago? Perhaps that article struck an nerve, or revealed that the county failed to follow the proper procedures to select Investigations for Grade 5 and can not, under state and PWC policies, use it as a primary text.

  40. AWCheney said on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:45 am:
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    My daughter, who graduated with honors from BDHS almost 4 years ago, and will be graduating from college with a double major in physics and the classics this spring, was doing simple algebra by the second grade…but then she didn’t have MI holding her back.

  41. Phyllis said on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:50 am:
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    As far as I know, there are two board members with elementary aged children: Milt Johns and Gil Trenum. I

  42. anon said on 23 Jan 2009 at 6:08 pm:
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    Sally can’t add: They would be further on than 2-digit multipliers if they didn’t have to draw out a lattice. The number of lattice elements can increase exponentially as the number of significant digits increase–and we’re only talking integers. That’s why lattice doesn’t make sense to me. When multiplying non-integers with even more significant digits, the lattice method is unworkable due to the sheer size of the lattice. Then there are the rules regarding where the decimal point should go on the result…why bother with the headaches?

    I can see why teachers might want to introduce lattices due to their resemblance to matrices. But actually solving matrices should be saved for pre-calculus in preparation for nth-order differential equations, not using some mutated form of matrices for simple multiplication. The fundamentals should be kept as simple as possible because it does get very complicated later.

    But hey, what do I know? My degree isn’t in education so I’m not allowed to get paid to teach it (except to my own 3rd grade kid who is now up to multiplying 6-digit numbers without a calculator).

  43. Anonymous Teacher said on 24 Jan 2009 at 12:55 am:
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    I teach 3rd grade and last year we were told to just teach the Math Investigation as directed in the Math Investigations materials. I tried to follow the program faithfully, to give it a fair trial. I must admit to abandoning it in March and scrambling to get the students ready for their SOL tests. (Most teachers did the same thing or the SOL scores would have been lower.)
    There are some good things about i MI, mostly the hands-on matherials that help children visualize concepts. However, I feel my students were definitely weaker in basic arithmetic.
    This year teachers were given much more freedom (at least at my school) to teach what we felt was in the best interest of children’s learning.
    I TEACH the students how to do math and give them lots of basic aritmetic practice using standard methods. But,I also do Math Investigations to discuss other strategies and to talk about how math works. Math Investigations works so much better when the children can add and subtract without it being a long drawn out process. I don’t record grades from the Math Investigations (so much of it is group work anyway) and I ddon’t assign Math Investigations as homework.) I feel like my students are enjoying math and are feeling confident that they are competent math students.
    I hope people won’t be put in a position of choosing Math Investigations or traditional math. Math Investigations makes a good supplement, but it should not be the ONLY method taught.

  44. Monster_Mom said on 24 Jan 2009 at 10:38 am:
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    I agree teacher, and I commend you and your school for doing what you believe is necessary for your students. Unfortunately, a number of schools aren’t as flexible with what the teachers are permitted to teach as yours clearly is. Those schools are following the instructions of the math department and requiring their teachers to follow Investigations to the letter and only supplement where needed to meet the SOL.

    Because Investigations isn’t really designed to be picked apart (as per TERC and PWCS published materials), I believe that a true blend will only happen in a class which uses a traditional textbook as the backbone and supplement it with Investigations or any other materials the teachers believe will help their students. That’s how the idea of two tracks evolved.

  45. fprichards said on 24 Jan 2009 at 10:39 am:
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    I think you will find that the next thing parents will be doing is “OPTING OUT” of math SOL testing in protest of this abominable math program. After watching the contempt that two board members have for the very citizens who elected them at Wednesday’s meeting (a great video to replay over and over and see just how terribly parents - PARENTS - were treated for wanting more than a dumbed down program for their kids) it’s time the entire Board is voted out.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, traditional math is both concepts and applications. The difference between that and “Investigations” is that children actually master both of these instead of just playing games in groups and “discovering math” on their own. It’s only the PWCS Math Office that spreads the “misinformation” labeling traditional math as rote memorization wiithout comprehension. You could say the same thing about forcing children to memorize the alphabet!

    It’s unbelievable that parents have to beg their school system for a more demanding math program — PWCS’s “world class education” is becoming a “3d world class education”

  46. ed said on 24 Jan 2009 at 11:12 am:
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    To the teacher, I would recommend that you pass this info onto Milt Johns; anonymously if you like but he needs to hear it from teachers as well.
    I know he is aware but getting it spelled out sometimes helps.

    Know that we are all behind you and are just asking for a traditional base not the banning of all non-traditional materials.

    We need to be able to work with the teachers not have them fearing for their jobs for teaching real mathematics.

  47. Monster_Mom said on 24 Jan 2009 at 12:44 pm:
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    SOL opt out is an interesting proposition. The SOL’s are used to accredit schools but not for inclusion in gifted or other programs. State law simply requires that the school must give the exam to each student, but are silent as to whether parents can refuse to have their children sit for the exam. I would imagine that local school officials would be very concerned if parents chose to pull their children from the math SOL, as those children would receive a 0 score and that score might result in the school not being accredited.

    But it is certainly and option parents who prefer an alternate program for their children might want to consider.

  48. anon said on 24 Jan 2009 at 2:11 pm:
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    I don’t think the traditional program would be designed to forbid Math investigations. Instead it would start with a traditional textbook and the teacher would be free to supplement with whatever is appropriate.

    Part of the problem in the first place is forcing teachers to do what the math department says instead of what their experience tells them is best for the kids.

  49. Anonymous said on 24 Jan 2009 at 2:59 pm:
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    fprichards said on 24 Jan 2009 at 10:39 am: Flag comment
    PWCS’s “world class education” is becoming a “3d world class education”

    Where do the ESOL student fit in this scenario? We have students who can’t speak English and we are teaching them a math course that is in the least, controversial. Do we dumb down the entire math class to accommodate the slowest in the class?

  50. ajax1992 said on 24 Jan 2009 at 7:53 pm:
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    With the current math curriculum it takes our villages millions of dollars and forever to raise a child. The ‘What works’ research on math and science is a sham. Educators get paid to say good things about anything, even if it doesn’t work.

    When districts are pulling feathers to account for high failure rates of children then it is time to put this issue to bed. Blaming millions of immigrant children for the failings of all children is a myth perpetuated by racists. Lets begin with the fabulous studies done in Houston and Austin using discovery methods with urban children.

    Before you open your mouth next time to speak, put on your glasses, and open one of your child’s ‘exemplary’ textbooks. Then tell me what you have learned by reading it. The ‘Moore Method’ is another American racist myth responsible for the undeserving failure of more college students than I can recount, except for the DOE’s list of exemplary and promising curriculum.

    The apartheid in our schools would put even Mayor Daley and Chicago to shame. Classroom life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little enjoyed.

  51. Anonymous Teacher said on 25 Jan 2009 at 8:42 am:
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    I know first hand that for every 1 teacher that was standing up in favor of MI, there were 4 against it sitting at home watching. Why??? Think about it: If I went to the meeting and voiced my opposition to MI, my boss would have served my head on a platter then next morning. I would have been public enemy number 1.

  52. ed said on 25 Jan 2009 at 10:52 am:
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    And why did most of the teachers start their speech with “thanks for inviting me”?
    Who invited them? Citizen comment time is for citizens to choose to come to the meeting and make a comment.
    Makes you wonder about their true feelings, doesn’t it?

  53. Anonymous Teacher said on 25 Jan 2009 at 5:20 pm:
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    First off-I am not the 3rd grade teacher (I didn’t notice another poster with that name). I did post the question about us teachers that oppose MI.

    I am embarrassed and ashamed of my colleagues. I have a background outside of education. One that stresses professionalism to a “T”. What the teachers did Wednesday night was embarrassing. If you want to stage a debate, you need to bring factual evidence in support of your position or stance. You do NOT bring posters and signs and parade up and down the aisle pretending to know more than anyone else. You don’t attack parents and their opinions. You do not tell parents to be spectators in the education system. Teachers want parents and the community to treat them like professionals…….you wonder why they don’t get that treatment? After seeing the parade of clowns Wednesday night, I think it answers that question.

    As a teacher, I am embarrassed and ashamed:(

  54. ajax1992 said on 26 Jan 2009 at 2:38 am:
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    Teachers that do speak up are fearful of losing their jobs. That’s how ugly this reform is. If you don’t conform, you get trained or you’re out.
    Signed, Room 101.

  55. Monster_Mom said on 26 Jan 2009 at 8:13 am:
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    One of my concerns has been the ESOL, LEP, and ED populations here in PWC. Their test scores under Investigations have dropped (as indicated by the drops in their AYP subgroups in the VA DOE released test results) and the parents of students in this population are least likely to speak out. And those parents of economically disadvantaged students are least likely to be able to afford private tutoring.

    PWCs SOL results for all of the sub-groups the DOE provides were down except two. Pass Rates were:

    2007 2008 change
    ED 83 81 -2
    LEP 86 83 -3
    HISP 87 84 -3
    ASIAN 96 95 -1
    Amer Ind 94 87 -7

    Male 90 89 -1
    Female 91 90 -1

    Black 82 84 +2
    White 95 95 NC

  56. realgreecer said on 26 Jan 2009 at 10:02 am:
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    Speaking from Greece, NY: We warned you to watch out for Walts and his cohorts. This is what you get. You should follow the lead of Greece and put Walts and his friends out to pasture. They have no respect for the public.

  57. ed said on 27 Jan 2009 at 12:57 pm:
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    To the teachers watching; get yourself a gmail account and send some of what you have been through to the most trustworthy board members; they really do want to help you but have nothing to go on.
    I would recommend Milt or Betty as the most likely to keep your confidence. I have been assured that they would treat any tips on what is really going on with the utmost confidentiality.
    We are all behind you.

  58. sceptical said on 27 Jan 2009 at 1:46 pm:
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    I’ve also heard that some board members are fed up with the teacher intimidation and the misinformation trotted out at board meetings by the math dept and their friends. A couple of board members regularly quote from information provided to them by the math department; there’s independent for you.
    Mr Lattin last time said there was much evidence of success on the math department web page; well the marketing hype he is referring to isn’t there any more. The publisher must have removed it because several of the school systems in there have already officially dumped MI and the others are drifting away from it.

  59. Anonymous said on 28 Jan 2009 at 10:22 pm:
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    Which publishing company “owns” MI? Which HUGE publishing company owns MI? Who has a lobby? Who has aPR staff? Who dominates as far as texts are concerned in the US public school system? Whose bottom dollar will not be touched if YOUR school system fails to make AYP?

  60. fprichards said on 29 Jan 2009 at 9:32 pm:
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    Pearson Publishers markets Math Investigations.

    It’s a program funded through grants to TERC (Technology Education Research Center) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF has yet to produce any “balanced” mathematics program — only fuzzy math programs like MI and “Everyday Math.”

    NSF is most recently in the news for it’s $600B budget (+$3B more in the “stimulus package”) being spent on employee internet pornography antics in the work place: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0109/18070.html

    Maybe if they’d focus on math they’d produce a better product? But then again, maybe they just need a little extra “stimulus.”

  61. NoOneOfInterest said on 30 Jan 2009 at 7:07 pm:
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    NYC Hold has a series on the cash behind constructivism.


    From the looks of it the next front in fuzzy wars will come on the science arena. TERC has a major science initiative going down. Maybe with California, Utah, and Washington State deeming their math curriculum unacceptable they’ve decided to branch out…..

  62. Anonymous said on 30 Jan 2009 at 9:41 pm:
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    Scott/Foresman publishes MI.

  63. Anonymous said on 30 Jan 2009 at 9:51 pm:
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    I absolutely know that scott/foresman publishes MI. All I had to do was open my nearest MI text. Pearson however grades the SOLS for the State of VA.

  64. sceptical said on 30 Jan 2009 at 10:58 pm:
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    Didn’t Pearson buy Scott/foresman?

    The web marketing on youtube for MI is coming from Pearson.

  65. Anonymous said on 2 Feb 2009 at 7:08 pm:
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    Pearson apparently owns the copywrite for content. Scott/Foresman apparently owns the rights to all black-line masters, and the copyrights for each lesson. Scott-foresman also reserves the rights to each and every Math Investigation Kit. Hmm…Pearson owns Scott/Foresman, MI. AND are contracted as the testing service that “corrects” each and every student’s SOL test in this state. Am I the only person that wonders about BIAS? Should it not be weird that a publisher provides curriculum, and services SOL testing?

  66. anon#2 said on 4 Feb 2009 at 8:38 am:
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    Anonymous - go even further back and you’ll see and even bigger racket.

    The taxpayers fund the NSF which gives money to groups like TERC to develop MI, gives money to groups like DMI and individuals like Dr Parker to develop programs to convince parents and educators of the need for programs like MI, and gives money to groups like the people who developed the SDMT to assess student performance under programs like MI. School Districts then purchase the texts and assessments and the taxpayers, yet again, foot the bill.

    So basically the taxpayers are funding the development of these fuzzy math programs, funding the marketing schemes needed to sell the programs, funding the purchase of the materials which deliver the fuzzy programs, and paying for the assessments that show how wonderful all of the fuzzy programs are and all the profits go to a handful of organizations, like Pearson.

    If a reporter really wanted to do a huge story of national interest - the funding and fingers of these reform program would be a really entertaining place to start.

  67. Genevieve said on 21 Feb 2009 at 7:51 pm:
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    Steve Walts was under attack in Greece, New York for two main reasons:

    1. The Greece school district was rife with financial “waste and abuse” during Walts’s tenure and the school system had to “acquiescence to a powerful superintendent” leading to unauthorized spending on capital improvements.

    2. A barrage of parent criticism over a new elementary math program.

    This should all sound familiar and was published by WaPo a year ago:


    Here we have built this palace called the Edward Kelly Leadership Center - a palace that Edward Kelly would have been appalled by in its obvious misuse of taxpayer dollars. And who ultimately pays? The little people. And I mean that literally. Our children will be stuffed like sardines in classrooms with all of the budget cuts that resulted in teacher lay-offs. In addition, they will be packed with LD/ED students with no teacher aids. And we call this a world class education? Sounds like a daycare nightmare to me.

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