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Don Richardson, Working For Us

By Greg L | 27 January 2009 | Prince William County | 40 Comments

You really got to wonder who these folks think they’re working for.  Is there any track record of success for elected officials who say their constituents “need to grow up” when they’re advocating for their own children?”  I kind of doubt it.

UPDATE: Someone else has posted a pretty comprehensive video from this meeting of the discussion regarding the “opt-in” option that would allow parents to choose which math program they want for their students. If you want to get a good feel for how the different board members approached this discussion, and which ones said they’re not going to listen to parents, this is a lot easier than watching the entire three and a half hour meeting.

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  1. sahdman said on 27 Jan 2009 at 11:59 pm:
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    I would tell these teachers to take this math investigations back to Cambridge Massachusetts. I was looking at some of the samples on the TERC website and this is nothing more than a big social experiment. Write a story explaining a simple subtraction problem. Good grief. With math like this it makes me think the teachers have a commission job working at the rent to own furniture store. I saw you can get a Sony Playstation for only $59.00 a week own it in just 36 weeks. What a deal. I can’t blame them for wanting to build a customer base.

  2. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 12:10 am:
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    It’s called a word problem. It’s nothing new. And it certainly didn’t come about with MI.

  3. Loudoun Insider said on 28 Jan 2009 at 12:12 am:
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    What a bunch of arrogant educrats!

    Great video!

  4. HoodwinkedByPWCS said on 28 Jan 2009 at 1:09 am:
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    Unreal! On the one hand they preach “be involved w/your child’s education” & on the other hand they say “you’re not qualified, stand aside.” Oh, the hypocrisy!

  5. Wolverine said on 28 Jan 2009 at 3:01 am:
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    Man, I feel for you guys in PWC. That arrogant piece of work has got to be taken down a peg or two. I’m surprised no one called him out on that trash talk right there in front of the cameras. The guy sounds like he believes he is on the school board by some divine right.

  6. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 6:22 am:
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    Parents aren’t ’spectators’. If I don’t like the movie, I can get my money back. Are you giving me the same deal, public employee? Then you better listen and do or give me my money back so I can go elsewhere.

  7. sceptical said on 28 Jan 2009 at 6:57 am:
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    Citizen comment time comes before board time for the most part and if we are defamatory, we get cut off. Doesn’t seem to apply to board members. Another board member, Mr Lattin, even called out one of the protesters by name and listed the schools where our kids attend.

  8. DPortM said on 28 Jan 2009 at 7:30 am:
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    Is there some way to recall Richardson? He is a disgrace to the Gainesville District.

  9. sceptical said on 28 Jan 2009 at 7:35 am:
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    Come to his town meeting on Tuesday, February 10 from 7-9 p.m. in the mini-theatre at Battlefield High School, 15000 Graduation Drive, Haymarket. The snow date is set for Thursday, February 12.

    Let him know what you think..

  10. Old Soldier said on 28 Jan 2009 at 8:40 am:
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    An excellent piece of reporting! Can you recall School Board members? The School Board appears to forget who they work for… install your own slate of candidates… and throw the bums out!

    Then you can go to work on the Teacher’s Union. PWC has one of the most educated populations in the Country. To assume we “don’t get it” is arrogant. The Teachers who appeared in the Video need an “attitude adjustment”.

    Prince William County children shouldn’t be the latest victims of one more failed social experiment.

  11. sahdman said on 28 Jan 2009 at 8:53 am:
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    Anon I am not the only one who thinks this
    Thomas Parker, Professor of Mathematics at Michigan State University. Professor Parker concludes: “TERC students will hit a wall, probably at the end of middle school. They are not being given the grounding needed to understand the abstractions of high school algebra and geometry. Their options for careers in science and engineering are being closed off by their elementary school program.”

    He also says

    “In the early grades progress in math is held hostage to writing skills.”

    “Many TERC assignments require the student to give answers in complete english sentences. This is extremely difficult for first or second graders, and completely unnecessary. Mathematics has its own notation — numbers, equations, diagrams — that are very efficent and are independent of english. Indeed those notations were developed because ordinary english is inadequate for the purpose. That mathematical language should be used and learned.”


  12. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 9:36 am:
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    sahdman: Different “anon” here (the EE from an earlier thread) but what the math professor says hits it on the head and is what I was trying to say in the other thread. This math is overcomplicated and unless traditional is placed as a priority, math will end for these kids in middle school. You can’t do Calculus, much less polynomial algebra, with this stuff.

  13. fed up said on 28 Jan 2009 at 9:44 am:
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    OUTSTANDING video, Greg! You hit the nail on the head with that one!

    P.S. Great song, too! I’m a Rat Pack fan.

  14. Anonymous#2 said on 28 Jan 2009 at 9:49 am:
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    Dr Stephen Wilson hit even closer to home. This is what he said in testimony before the Frederick MD school board , “I am not really here today to talk to the Board, but to the parents. If your child goes to a school that uses TERC Investigations, you should understand that it means your child’s school has abdicated its responsibility to teach your child mathematics. By doing so, the responsibility now rests with the parents. Good luck.”

    That’s pretty damning.

    Here’s a link to Frederick’s web site:


  15. sally can't add said on 28 Jan 2009 at 10:28 am:
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    This controversy and the behavior/actions of certain PWCS Administration and Board members has really been an eye opener for me the last year or so. Where is the common sense and how do we have any faith in the education our children are receiving in PWCS? Just recently I heard that one of the middle schools got Wii Fit to use during PE time. Now the administration at one of the elementary schools who cited concerns with not meeting their fitness goals is also trying to get a Wii Fit for use during PE. There are SO MANY things WRONG with this that I can’t even begin to go there but this goes to show the questionable judgment of PWCS administration. What do you do with 1 Wii and 800 kids or is it just the newest high tech gadget like smartboards, raptor system, etc? I would love to see cost benefit analysis on all of these when many teachers say they don’t even have the books or supplies they need to instruct properly! What happened to dodge ball, doing push ups, tug-a-war, or other games with REAL ACTIVITY during PE if they are concerned with physical fitness of the students? Is this the best use of our education dollars?

  16. sceptical said on 28 Jan 2009 at 10:34 am:
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    Perhaps the budget will be the thing that kills MI.
    As long as the end result is a better math education, it doesn’t matter.
    Trouble is with math department people that have real faith in a particular approach, it is hard to change that.
    Nothing wrong with faith in things that can’t be explained or proven but math is not one of those things.

  17. Anonymous#2 said on 28 Jan 2009 at 10:53 am:
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    Schools are buying Wii Fit for PE??? Has it ever occurred to them that it might be better to have the PE teachers do units teaching the children actual fitness programs - like aerobics or yoga or strength training rather than letting a computer game do it?

    That one left me kinda speechless……….

  18. TDB said on 28 Jan 2009 at 11:13 am:
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    So, do these ’sentences’ have to be written in English? I’m guessing there’s a lot of non-English speaking elementary school children.

  19. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 12:42 pm:
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    First anon here. What you posted is interesting. Unfortunately, it had absolutely nothing to do with your 1st post and my response to it.

    You were whining about writing a story to solve a simple subtraction problem. I told you it is called a word problem.

    Basically, kids have always stunk at word problems. For all of its other hooey, MI does try to address understanding a word problem.

    It’s shocking that you have a problem with that part of MI when it probably one of the few things that is right about it. That makes me wonder if you don’t just hate MI for the sake of hating it.

  20. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 12:49 pm:
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    Wii Fit in PE???? I strictly limit that thing in our house and they are playing with it at school? They can’t run around the gym or play outside? That’s just down right laziness or incompetence on the part of the staff. Who authorized the purchase? Why not bus them over to Lifetime Fitness and drop them off? I guess that would be too much work. What the hell are we paying for?

    I’m starting to wonder if the real reason for so much school security is so parents don’t find out about this sort of nonsense!!!

  21. Mark said on 28 Jan 2009 at 1:23 pm:
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    You know…someone said something correct about the budget perhaps influencing the decision to use this Math MI. Perhaps we need to get more involved with the budget process and show the arrogant school board memebrs and teachers who pays their checks. You know, we can grow up and elevate our game here. :-)

    Seriously, I have kids in schools here, but I have absoutely no problem with telling my distric representative to deny as much as possible the county school’s pile of money. It’s called tough love. It should be practiced more often.

    Am I wrong though? Can the Board of County Supervisors do anything about this or are they just a funnel through which money goes to the school?

  22. sceptical said on 28 Jan 2009 at 1:30 pm:
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    According to a lot of research, story problems are introduced too early in MI. They need some basic counting skills first. The words just add to the confusion.
    The text I use at home has better thought out word problems that go deeper with 2 level problems; solve the 1st part before you can do the 2nd.

  23. sahdman said on 28 Jan 2009 at 5:15 pm:
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    Anon said
    First anon here. What you posted is interesting. Unfortunately, it had absolutely nothing to do with your 1st post and my response to it.

    Sorry I shouldn’t have said problem I should have said answer. Write a story (sentence, I exaggerate sometimes) to explain the answer to the problem. The samples on the TERC website show the kids writing an answer to a math problem when they can hardly write a sentence. I don’t have a problem with word problems. Its the confusing answers they want the kids to write I have a problem with.

    Although always a horrible math student. I have always liked the fact that math is truly the only universal language understood by every culture and society. Scientists of any language can understand math.
    It is for that reason that it should be taught as an exact science not and “investigation”. English or any other language wouldn’t be taught as an investigation. Who ever heard of English investigation.

    there is other hooey in this MI but this is something I picked up on right away.

    I don’t hate math investigations. If it is used in conjunction with traditional math. I just think it should be something that parents should be able to try at home if there children are having problems with math in school. But as far as the classroom goes I think real math should be used. As boring and uncool as it is.

    As far as responding to the video these teachers and board members are way out of line and it seems to me are on an ego trip. Kids shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs especially by the government.

  24. please educate our kids said on 28 Jan 2009 at 5:27 pm:
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    Shocking video. Interesting are the comments from the porter staff that said “Spectators should just spectate” as she was referring to parents. The amazing thing is that woman speaking is the SECRETARY at Porter!

    She is Michele Tluchowski and works as a Secretary in the front office at Porter!

    See her picture here: http://pwcs.porter.schoolfusion.us/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=76025&sessionid=e63506bba00804773b8fc50dd0201df9

  25. sceptical said on 28 Jan 2009 at 5:31 pm:
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    And the unidentified staff member from Porter is actually the school secretary. I doubt that she is a qualified teacher..

  26. Belle Hertanez said on 28 Jan 2009 at 6:57 pm:
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    Greece, New York is talking:


  27. anon said on 28 Jan 2009 at 8:57 pm:
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    The School Board did not buy Wii fit for any school. The school budgets are managed by the Principals, which means if they have white boards, Wii fit or anything like that, the Principal made the decision, not the school board. Each schools gets so much per child and the principal decides what is the best use of that money. 90-95% of the money is spent on teacher salaries which leaves 5% for everything else. A Wii fit could have also been purchased by a PTA.

  28. Dan Dempsey said on 28 Jan 2009 at 10:20 pm:
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    To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data…

    Why is this so hard for school board members and school administrators to understand?

    … because “Club Ed” drives decision making NOT thinking.
    These folks need a thought stimulus package.

    Consider USA worse English Speaking country on PISA testing of 15 year olds in Math. People like these put us there.

  29. sahdman said on 28 Jan 2009 at 11:34 pm:
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    In order for teachers to get the test scores up they have to dumb the curriculum down so the dumbest kid in the class gets an A. The liberals in charge of the teachers unions have no interest in challenging the kids they are just pawns for the Democratic party. Creating more and more victims and therefore more and more welfare recipients and more and more voters. They have done a very good job at dumbing down the population. (look who our President is) If these teachers or board members really cared for the children they wouldn’t be talking like they do, at least not in public.
    They are creating a wedge between the students and parents. (these people crave power) Why don’t they just give all the parents a lobotomy and then they can brainwash the kids with this new math all they want. We can just sit and drool and spectate. I don’t have a kid in PWCS. But this is the “new math” being pushed nationwide. I wish you all well in getting this issue resolved.

  30. sally can't add said on 29 Jan 2009 at 8:30 am:
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    With our teachers telling us that they don’t have basic books or supplies that they need for their classrooms how can any principal justify spending money on video games and similar nonsense, whether the money is coming from the PTA or the school’s funds. Absolutely nothing is purchased by the PTA without the principals approval so this is mismanagement and warped priorities that come straight down from the top of the administration. At all schools principals direct and ust approve what the PTA money is spent on and there does seem to be a huge disconnect in many schools between what teachers say they need for their classrooms (reading books, science equipment and supplies, copy paper, rugs, etc) and the items that the principals asks the PTA to purchase (Wii, smartboards, video equipment, etc). Where is the common sense and why aren’t the teacher’s requests being put forward instead?

  31. educate our kids said on 29 Jan 2009 at 8:43 am:
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    If test scores are really declining maybe the we need to look at improving the education degrees the teachers are getting to include more CONTENT in the areas of math and science etc. I see many teachers that clearly don’t understand much of the subject matter they are teaching, mush less how to teach it. Maybe the problem wasn’t the books they were using but the lack of focus on content and content training for the teachers…If the school district spent half as much time focusing on giving the teachers the knowledge and tools they need to be more effective instead of trying to brainwash them against the parents and reinventing basic math education the kids might just learn more.
    As for the SOL tests, those are a poor measure of the education our kids are receiving and are one of the main driving forces that got us here. All the focus is on making AYP and even schools that are above 95% focus most of their extra resources on the bottom 5% of the students instead of the kids who are average to above average. The schools and teachers are forced to teach to the tests and that is all the kids come away with and all the school district is concerned with.

  32. Groveton said on 29 Jan 2009 at 11:33 am:
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    The American public education system is great! In fact, it is so good that the President sends his kids to public school in DC. Oh wait, no he doesn’t. But he would send his kids to public schools if he weren’t president and there weren’t so many security concerns. Oh wait, he didn’t send them to public school when he was a Senator living in Chicago either, did he? Is it possible that the champion of a larger, more powerful government wants to insulate his kids from institutions run by large, powerful government agencies?

    Where did Bush’s kids go to high school?

    Where did the candidates for governor go to high school? Where do their kids go to school?

  33. sceptical said on 29 Jan 2009 at 11:38 am:
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    Sad, but true. And because we have to make all kids feel good about themselves, you can’t separate the classes by ability so the kids get the help they need. Except that they already do that with signet and start.
    They need the same sort of screening and separating by ability that those programs provide for english, math and science.
    Then kids are more likely to reach their full potential.

  34. educate our kids said on 29 Jan 2009 at 2:52 pm:
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    Some of our own supervisors and school board members send their kids either to private schools, home school or send them to Fairfax Co. schools what does that tell us?

  35. AWCheney said on 29 Jan 2009 at 8:01 pm:
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    “They need the same sort of screening and separating by ability that those programs provide for english, math and science.”

    While my kids were in school here, they were separated by academic ability in High School and Middle School…hopefully, that hasn’t changed. Of course, there was one year when my daughter (honors student) was very upset about school because she felt that they were getting behind the other classes. When pressed, I ascertained that they had integrated special ed students into her class (which was supposed to be the advanced class), and the teacher was “dumbing down” the class to help the special ed kids keep up. I dealt with it. To make a long story short, it turned out that the head of the Guidance Department had taken it upon himself to integrate all the special needs students into ALL of the classes in an experiment in extreme mainstreaming. The school administrators were not even aware of what he had done. It was corrected, and the gentleman at fault was not renewed for the following year.

    By the way sceptical, unless they’ve changed the program, SIGNET does not “separate” by ability…it is an enhancement program in addition to the regular classes. I’m not familiar with the “start” program.

  36. Bridget said on 30 Jan 2009 at 5:49 am:
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    All your children are belong to us.



  37. sceptical said on 30 Jan 2009 at 3:41 pm:
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    Start is the lower grade version of Signet. Wasn’t aware they streamed in middle school; that’s something to look forward to.
    Yes, Signet is kids who think “differently” but they do screen them with various tests.

  38. Anon2009 said on 30 Jan 2009 at 4:25 pm:
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    Signet kids will be in extended math/algebra and extended language arts/foreign language during middle school. Unfortunately, for science and history, it has been my experience that they have mainstreamed special ed kids with the Signet classes. My child was extremely frustrated as the class has to be slowed down for these kids. It is a way to save money as the Special Ed kids won’t require a classroom or teacher just for them. Thank goodness, we have move on to high school.

    You have to pass “tests” to attend Signet classes but I have heard that if parents make a big enough stink, their kid would be included.

  39. AWCheney said on 30 Jan 2009 at 6:44 pm:
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    As I said earlier Anon2009, I encountered that problem (integrating special ed kids in advanced classes) with my daughter one year. Fortunately, the school had administrators (and we had School Board members that backed them up) who saw the inadvisability of that and the problem was solved. Of course from the sound of it, as in any bureaucracy, incompetence floats to the top. Maybe, when that Guidance Director was not renewed, he was “promoted out” into a position which allowed him to screw up the rest of the schools.

  40. sceptical said on 3 Feb 2009 at 11:15 am:
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    The unacceptable rants by Lattin and Richardson are on youtube as well with the parent address to them that sparked it.
    These 2 are not fit for the office of restroom attendant let alone, as elected officials.

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