Sunday, November 30, 2008


The school board meeting is NOT tomorrow....It is always the second Monday of the month. The school board meeting will be next Monday, December 8th at 5:30 pm. So, if you are talking to someone tomorrow who is planning on being at the school board meeting tomorrow, will you please let them know that I got it wrong and I am so sorry. I will see you in a week! Also, look for more details on the next forum/chili supper later in the week. It will be a power point presentation for all of you looking to make sense of what is going on. We will also be starting a petition drive at that time. Stay posted for the details. Thanks again for all of the overwhelming support!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Supplement Or Not To Supplement. That Is Now The Question.

In talking to several teachers at Camdenton over the past few days, I am pretty sure that it is safe to say it has been an interesting few days...especially those teachers in Hawthorn Elementary School. That is where the biggest part of this battle with our "New Math" started for those of you who are just now joining this discussion. I will refresh...

It was only four short weeks ago that it was brought to my attention that my third grader would be doing TERC math. I had NO idea what that was. I only knew that 1.) He had no text book 2.) My husband and I had no idea how to help him do his math most nights he brought homework home 3.) I just kept waiting for him to get passed all the "crazy stuff" and get back to the basics as we knew them. Little did I know that was not part of the plan.

So, I started to research. For the most part you all know the rest of that story. Thus, the reason we are here today. As a result, I was informed last week that the teachers in Hawthorn are now supposed to supplement. This is a little confusing to most of them because they were told in no uncertain terms on more than one occasion they were absolutely NOT TO SUPPLEMENT! In fact, the Scott Forseman text that they had been using was confiscated, along with all of their resource guides and sold last year in order to ensure that the curriculum would be kept pure. Whatever that means. I am not sure.

Anyway....last week all teachers were handed a memo that read:

1. Provide practice activities for the students on basic skills, fluency, and basic facts.
2. Provide homework for the students on basic skills, fluency, and basic facts.
3. Send family letter prior to each section of the book with explanation, if necessary of what is being covered in each section.
4. Provide monthly parent math nights.
5. Teach the standard algorithms, but make sure students can solve problem using multiple strategies.
6. Send student handbook home if parents and students need additional reinforcement with a concept.

The memo goes on to say..."There will be glitches and questions along the way, but we can work together and use common sense to create the right balance for our students."

So I ask these questions in response to this memo:
1. Define supplement.

2. Define basics.

3. What tools are you giving your teachers to supplement with? Is there any continuity in what they are using, or is it just hit and miss? Is there a certain book they are all working from uniformly? How are you helping them in implementing our supplements effectively at the administrative level? ( Do you realize that most teachers will tell you that it is impossible to "supplement" effectively with this particular curriculum (TERC) because of the way it constantly "spirals" without mastery or closure of any subject?) Has anyone ever asked the teachers HOW to supplement this properly? Most all of them will tell you the same is easy to teach the basics and supplement with TERC, but much harder to teach TERC as our core and attempt to supplement. Do you understand why?

4. When you say to provide homework on basic skills does that mean so we, the parents, can teach our kids at home those "basic skills" or can we expect you to do that at school? So will we be just practicing those skills at home or will we be teaching those ourselves? Or are you just sending us home "basic concepts" to keep us off of your back for now?

5. Define glitches.

6. Define common sense.

7. Why do the parents need to be taught how to teach their kids the math? Why are we reinventing the wheel? What if we have other commitments and can't make the monthly math night? Who will teach our kids then if we miss our lesson on how to teach them their math the "right way"?

8. What if my kid gets sick and misses a week of school. Being that there is not a book for me to refresh myself on what he has been learning so I can help him at home, and if I cannot make it to your "Math Night" how can you guarantee that he will get caught back up? Will you personally see to it that he/she gets all caught up since I won't be able to at home? Or is all lost until we "spiral "back to him in a couple of months?

9. Do you think it is troubling that Eldon just bought the exact kind of books that we just sold since they believed that the TERC "investigations" was not meeting their GLEs? Aren't their GLEs the same as ours? Being that they have used Investigations longer than we have and they came to this conclusion through experience, is anyone a little worried by this?

10. Do you think we should worry a little since our model school of Raymore Peculiar dropped the Investigations from all of their elementary schools? Do you think it is troubling that they dropped it in large part since their junior high school math teachers felt the students were coming grossly unprepared mathematically to junior high school?

11. What do you think of the National Math Advisory Panel's findings in 2008? Have you even seen that? Did you know about that when we decided to jump into this curriculum feet first? Do you believe that our Department of Education at the federal level is right or wrong in their most recent findings on how to teach math the right way? Why or why not?

12. Did it not worry anyone that Columbia Public Schools (the school who trained us) dropped this math due to several years of falling test scores? Did you do any research on what those scores looked like, or did you just write it off as "political" since someone told you that is why it was dropped?

I could go on and on, but I doubt I get anyone to answer any of these questions. I think they are valid and I know that I speak for the majority of us when I ask. I feel more strongly now than ever that we need a change and we need it fast. We do not want for any more damage to be done. And IF you are not willing to change it overall, then you need to offer a choice of either Basic Math or TERC for those of us who feel passionately about the way our kids are taught.

This is not what I want for my child. I know that I am not alone in this belief. This is a controversial enough way of teaching that has never been proven (according to our Department of Education of the federal level) to work. There should have been full disclosure before you took our kids down this path without our consent. We should have known before the first of the year where we were going. Why have you never blown us away with all of the overwhelming data as to how wonderful this is and how many places it has worked in? Why can I not find any studies that prove overwhelmingly (after 20 years of use in our country) that our Department of Education embraces how successful this way of teaching has been?

Why are all of the schools who were using it, NOT anymore? I know the answer. Because there is no hard evidence consistently. At a minimum, I want a choice for my child. I don't want to go down this road of trial and error with you. I do not want for my child to be "research" any longer. I am a taxpayer and a parent. My opinion should count. Please show us that you are listening. I will be at the school board meeting the Monday following our Thanksgiving break to ask these questions in person. It is scheduled to be at the administration building at 5:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Bear with me...this is a long post, but so worth the reading. Take a break and come back to it later, but you have to know what is going on in our school and know what our Department of Education in our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN 2008 is saying about what our kids are being taught right now!

I may have been banned from my computer for the past couple of days...but, a friend handed me a bound copy of The National Mathematics Advisory Panel's report called Foundations for Success. I was thrilled. Jeff, not so much. He made me promise to take a break from the computer, but I never promised to stop reading. So... I can tell you that every bit of this report only CONFIRMED WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW!!!
What this report is...In April of 2006 the President of The United States created a National Mathematics Advisory Panel with the "responsibilities of relying upon the best available scientific evidence and recommending ways to foster greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students.

Over a period of 20 months, the Panel received public testimony as a committee of the whole but worked largely in task groups and subcommittees dedicated to major components of the presidential charge. The Panel took consistent note of the President's emphasis on "the best available scientific evidence" and set a high bar for admitting research results into consideration.

In all, the Panel reviewed more than 16,000 research publications and policy reports and received public testimony from 110 individuals, of whom 69 appeared before the Panel on their own and 41 others invited on the basis of expertise to cover commentary from 160 organizations and individuals, and analyzed survey results from 743 active teachers of algebra.


Let me just give you a little sampling...
**And I quote..."The essence of the Panel's message is to put first things first." (Sound familiar to any of you Camdenton parents...haven't we all been saying the same thing?)

**And I quote..."Use should be made of what is clearly known from rigorous research about how children learn, especially by recognizing a) the advantages for children having a strong start; b)the mutually reinforcing benefits of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and automatic (i.e., quick and effortless) recall of facts. (I think that is what we call "Rote Memorization" it not?)

**NAEP and state assessments should be improved in quality and should carry increased emphasis on the most critical knowledge and skills leading to Algebra. (I think we would all agree on this to be true. However, what the National Panel really does drive home is just how detrimental this kind of math is to learning higher level mathematics like Algebra...please, read the link below to find out more about the HUGE concerns with reference to Algebra.)

**And I quote..."A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided." (This is what is called "spiraling" in our fuzzy math curricula....I will say what the Department of Education just said again...IS TO BE AVOIDED!)

They go on to define...And I quote..."By the term focused, the Panel means that curriculum must include (and engage with adequate depth) the most important topics underlying success in school algebra. By the term coherent, the Panel means that the curriculum is marked by effective, logical progressions from earlier, less sophisticated topics into later more sophisticated ones. ( I am pretty sure this means that you must learn to master how to add before you can master how to subtract. And once you master those things you move on to multiplication and master that before you head into division.)

And I quote..."By the term proficiency, the Panel means that students should understand key concepts, achieve automaticity as appropriate (e.g. with addition and related subtraction facts), develop flexible, accurate (KEY WORD FOR YOU AND ME ), and automatic execution of the standard algorithms, and use of these competencies to solve problems. (I probably don't even need to go any further...I do love the idea of automatic, which to me means the dreaded rote memorization skills AGAIN, and the idea of accuracy...need I say more?)

*PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, READ... For those of you who say...well my child is doing fine. Understand what you are saying exactly. You must read the article above and then decide if this is the route you want for your child to take in the ever-so-critical and most formative learning years. You must read this. My daughter and son are both doing "fine" too but, I want for them to go to college. I want for them to be able to be a nurse or a doctor, or an engineer if that is what they want to do. I do not want for their career choices to be limited because they were not offered a strong foundation in the most important formative years of their education. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel speaks directly to TERC (Investigations...which is what your 3rd-6th graders at Camdenton are doing) and speaks to how that curriculum is a detriment to higher level mathematics because it leaves those students without a foundation. In other words..."fuzzy math" does not put first things first. Please educate yourselves so that you may educate others. REMEMBER: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! WE WILL FIGHT THIS GOOD FIGHT, SHOULDER TO SHOULDER FOR OUR CHILDREN. THEY DO NOT GET A SECOND CHANCE AT THEIR CHILDHOODS. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. THIS NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED BEFORE ANY MORE DAMAGE IS DONE SOONER THAN LATER!

or call TOLL FREE 1-877-433-7827 or 1-800-872-5327 (1-800-USA-LEARN)
If you call The United States Department of Education they will send you a copy, too. For FREE!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I had a very nice conversation with Dr. Overlander yesterday morning. I continually am impressed with how diplomatic he has been through this whole experience. He wants to hear from his parents and I am convinced that he cares. We are so lucky to have a top administrator who will listen....really listen. Our administration is trying to take steps now to "remedy" our concerns. Last week the teachers had "math meetings" in order to introduce supplements to our 3rd and 4th graders in particular. I think they are trying to define those words "basics" and "supplements" in order for all to be on the same page. So...we are making steps in the right direction. Thank you Dr. Overlander.

Now, we need to hear from parents and teachers with reference to "is this enough?" What will satisfy you? I will say this...I believe from endless hours of research and talking to teachers whom I trust and admire that there are good points to Investigations and Everyday Math (and without a doubt they are necessary components of the MAP tests whether we like it or not). I have said that from the beginning. There are good elements in the curriculum, however, I do not believe those should be our core. I believe in balance. I believe that the Scott Foresman had a terrific Balance (PLEASE TRY TO GET ONLINE AND CHECK THOSE BOOKS OUT OR TRY TO GET A COPY TO LOOK AT) of both traditional math practice and the Investigations component to satisfy all. I believe to call the Investigations our core and continue to handcuff teachers to the spiraling method of teaching without mastery is dangerous. I believe that if all of the schools that I have been talking to have dropped Investigations (especially our model schools Raymore Peculiar and Columbia) we should sit up and take note of that. I also have to believe that if the teachers and administrators in Eldon had concerns that the Investigations was not meeting their GLEs (grade level expectations) then how could it possibly be meeting ours? I must take into consideration what all of the many, many experts across our nation have said and realize that California and Texas do not allow these curricula in their states. The more I research the more I have to say, we should approach this with careful thought and decide what we think is best for our children. Let me hear from you.

(Notice: My husband is cutting me off from the computer for the next two days. This will be the last post for me until Tuesday. I will not be able to moderate and post your comments until then. Please go ahead and comment, just don't look for them to hit until Tuesday. I will get to all of them then.) He is making me take a break from math curriculum for a couple of days so I can get caught up on the laundry.:)

(Note #2: I will let you know when and where our parent/community forum will be held. I will be doing the power point presentation again for those of you who are asking and did not get to see it. That presentation will educate you and show you what our kids are learning. It will explain in great detail what this is and why you should be worried. We will also make it a chili supper with child care so as many people as possible can make it. We will try to keep it as brief yet informative as possible. I will keep you posted. )

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I talked to the curriculum advisor at Joplin Public Schools this morning. I learned that of the 13 elementary schools in Joplin (k-5), 10 use a very traditional math approach called "Math 05"from the Houghton Mifflin Publishers. They do not use Investigations or Everyday Math at all in any of their schools. They are piloting a math curriculum and have been for the last 3 years in 3 of their 13 schools called "Math Expressions" from the Houghton Mifflin Publishers. It is almost identical to Scott Foresman (the old textbook that we got rid of last year). They DO NOT use Investigations or Everyday Math in any of their schools.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Today I am frustrated. I have been researching by calling all of these schools who some of our administrators and teachers have been name dropping as "successes" in our area with this math that we are now using. I am confused.... Let's go through them school by school:

Ozark: Not using Investigations AT ALL. Currently looking for a new math curriculum.

Nixa: Does use Investigations, but supplements with any and everything they need to make sure their kids are "getting their math basics".

Rolla: k-4 Does not use Investigations AT ALL.

Eldon: Does use Investigations, but just purchased Scott Foresman to supplement because they did not believe the Investigations was meeting their GLEs.

Raymore Peculiar: A school that we have tried to emulate. (Teachers, you especially know what I am talking about.) Elementary Schools. ** Eagle Glenn (Intermediate Grades 5-6)
Does NOT use Investigations...AT ALL.
Using Scott Foresman, "Envisions "(Principal said that due to parents complaining and, more importantly, the junior high school teachers complaints that the children were reaching junior high school totally mathematically unprepared, they dropped and have returned to a more traditional approach.)
** Timbercreek (Ray Pec) Elementary (Grades k-4)
Dropped it and are NOT USING IT AT ALL!

People, let these messages speak loud and clear. If it is so wonderful then why have all of these schools who were supposed to be thriving with this curriculum all dropped it or are now supplementing?
Remember Columbia, too, dropped it!!!

If it is not good enough for any of them why is it good enough for us?
We want for our kids to learn real math. We want a traditional math curriculum back by the first of the year. We do not want the existing curriculum to be our core! It may be a fine supplement, BUT NOT OUR CORE! We want to see traditional math back ASAP, K-6 sooner than later before any more damage is done. We will have petitions online soon, and will let you know the details of our parent/community chili supper forum just as soon as we nail down a location.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Do The Experts Say?

“What you will not find is an ‘A’ student in college math who went through any school using only these reform math programs … without some sort of intervention. The reason I can say this with such confidence is that there is too much content missing from these programs, content that is essential for college level mathematics.”
W. Stephen Wilson
Professor of Mathematics
Johns Hopkins University

“At the elementary level, I advise against ‘Everyday Mathematics’.

At the middle school level, I advise against ‘Connected Mathematics,’ known as CMP.

Students who follow these programs, unless they have outside tutoring, will not be prepared for high school mathematics. In my experience with districts afflicted with these programs, affluent parents have sent their children to private schools or hired tutors, while the less privileged, even if they ‘succeeded’ in these programs, were forever cut off from any further progress in mathematics or scientific professional education. Once finished with ‘CMP,’ remediation becomes impossibly difficult except by private tutoring.”
Ralph A. Raimi
Professor of Mathematics
University of Rochester

“Everyday Mathematics requires massive fixes at the most basic level. The program does not teach the standard procedures at all for subtraction and division, and offers a hopelessly confusing potpourri of methods for all the four elementary operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The program has pedagogical features (notably, rapidly jumping around over different topics without staying focused long enough for pupils to achieve mastery) that appear to make it all but unworkable as intended.”
Bastian Braams
Visiting Professor of Math
Emory University

[W]hat troubles me most is the fundamental philosophical flaw in EDM: It ignores the core beauty and power of mathematics, viz., that it is an edifice constructed out of pure reason, all of whose inferences and deductions flow logically and unarguably from more basic facts. EDM asks the students to flit willy-nilly from room to room or even floor to floor in this structure, without ever exposing them to the skeleton, the underlying architecture…..

The basic premise of EDM, so much so that it is part of its name, that math should be valued or appreciated only insofar as it can be applied to ‘everyday things,’ is worse than misguided, it is a lie promulgated by people who, quite frankly, don’t understand the first thing about mathematics.”

Anthony Falcone, Ph.D
Theoretical Mathematician (Ph.D UCLA)
Former Adjunct Assistant Professor, UCLA

“[Reform math] has the potential to change completely the undergraduate mathematics curriculum and to throttle the normal process of producing a competent corps of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. In some institutions this potential is already a reality.”
Hung Hsi-Wu
Professor of Mathematics
University of California, Berkeley

“Overall, [Connected Mathematics Program] seems to be very incomplete, and I would judge that it is aimed at underachieving students rather than normal or higher achieving students…. The philosophy used throughout the program is that students should entirely construct their own knowledge and that calculators are to always be available for calculation.”
James Milgram
Professor of Mathematics
Stanford University

“[S]tudents whose K-8 mathematics programs de-emphasize or eliminate traditional algorithmic approaches will be effectively denied access to [formal and abstract mathematical competency], or indeed to any high school program designed to prepare them for rigorous college mathematics.”
Stanley Ocken
Professor of Mathematics
The City College of the City University of New York

Whatever happened to practice???

Let's see...write a "story" about 352-168? 2 whopping "practice problems". Where are the numbers?
This is the Investigations for third grade our kids are doing now.
This is what our kids are using for practice right now.

Notice from the old book, there are still 2 problems that ask for a written explanation, however, there is BALANCE!!!!! There is practice...there are word problems...THERE ARE NUMBERS!!!
This sheet is taken from the exact books that we got rid of...this is what the practice page for third graders LOOKED like.

Also NOTE: Our kids had text books then so we the parents knew what was going on and HOW to help....they could bring home a cd to do extra practice and play math games on the computer if they needed extra help with our old textbooks ...NONE OF THAT IS AVAILABLE NOW WITH THIS NEW CURRICULUM. (I am specifically referring to 3rd and 4th grade where the teachers were told NOT to supplement with anything other than Investigations, and every teacher in those grade levels had their old textbooks and all of their old reference guides taken from them.)
Which would you rather your kid be doing?
I know my kids would probably opt for the easy route...that is why many people say that their kids are "liking" the new math. But, is it really teaching them anything? If the old saying "practice makes perfect" rings true....our kids are in real trouble. Just thought you might find it interesting that we learned that our neighbors in Eldon who are using Investigations math just purchased the exact same kind of books that we got rid of last year to SUPPLEMENT with because their kids needed more solid content. They did not believe Investigations was meeting their GLEs (grade level expectations). WOW!

For all of those who showed up at the forum...thank you! For all of the calls today asking how to help, we are planning our next "forum" for parents and the community. I will keep you posted. We are planning a chili supper with child care to be held in 2 weeks. This way you can grab a bite to eat after work. We will keep it as brief, yet as informative as possible. Once again, thank you for all of the support! This will probably take place the week after Thanksgiving. Stay posted for the details and tell your friends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This one is funny...

Check out this site: it promises to give you a smile in the midst of your daily frustration with math. A reader sent this one over this morning. I enjoyed it so I thought I would share.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Good News and a BIG thank you to Dr. Overlander and Mr. Shockley for arranging supervision and childcare in the library on Monday, November 17 at 6:30 pm, during the forum. There will be videos, games , and supervision! Look forward to seeing you there! ( Remember we will be meeting in the lunchroom at Hawthorn.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Things To Think About....

I had a long conversation last night with a math teacher from Columbia (where TERC Math and Everyday Math was just dropped in grades k-8 due to years of bad test scores). She is a passionate educator who loves her students and, like so many of our teachers, is called to do what she does. When discussing this new math we are looking at, she brought up several thoughts that she, as a junior high school teacher, noticed with the curriculum.
***First: She did point out that there is some good in some of the concepts. This is a truth that many teachers will agree on. There are some good points that come from this math that do allow children to see a problem with a different set of eyes now and then. However, she is a firm believer that it should never be allowed as the core curriculum with no supplementation (as is being done in Hawthorn). She is a believer that every child learns differently and to offer this program as a "one size fits all" approach will only yield disastrous consequences.

***Due to the fact there are no textbooks, and very little way that we the parents can help our children any more if they are going to get the answers counted right (because remember, it is more about the process at this point than the answer itself), if a child misses a few days of school there is no way that the parent can help their child get caught up. The child and the teacher have to be absolutely devoted to making sure that student "gets it" or everything they missed will be lost to them and it is very hard for them to get caught back up if at all.

***READING, READING, READING...For those of you who have talked to me personally or were at the school board meeting you know that I am going to harp on the reading. As so many of our teachers put it "Our reading is in CRISIS". They are right!! The statistics will alarm you. Our reading scores have been on a downward spiral for the past 5 years and well over 100 students in Hawthorn are reading 1-2 grade levels below the national average. You may ask "So, what does the reading have to do with math?" Well...EVERYTHING!!! With this math curriculum you may have noticed that our children deal very little with numbers and very much with word problems and writing their answers in sentence form. WHERE ARE THE NUMBERS???? Therefore, if your child has difficulty reading, this new math will not be their friend! As the math teacher from Columbia put it; "It is sad, because if your child maybe is not a great reader, if letters are not his/her thing, maybe numbers are. However, with this program it is almost impossible to know that because if they have trouble reading it is almost a guarantee that they will have trouble with math, too."

I will talk about all of these things and much, much more at the forum. Please show up! Again, DO NOT BE APATHETIC ABOUT YOUR CHILD"S EDUCATION. BE AN INFORMED PARENT!
I do not want for my child or yours to be an experiment. I do not want for our administration to have to see bad scores for several years in a row to realize they have made a mistake. That won't help my child then, he/she will have already lost these very important formative years. If you share these same concerns be at the forum. You need to hear what is going on.

Watch This Video.....

If you are a visual learner and are still wondering exactly what this program is all about, then watch this video someone posted on this site.

I found a great YouTube Video from Washington explaining the problems with EveryDay Math and Investigations. Please watch this video it really opened my eyes as to what this program is really about.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I just talked to Dr. Overlander and the forum has been MOVED!!! We will be meeting on the same time on Monday, November 17 th, 6:30 pm, now in the lunchroom at Hawthorn. Please let everyone know that it has been changed. I asked for him to make the gym available for the children who will have no other option than to attend with their parents, and he told me he would work on that. So...I can't promise that there will be childcare for the very young children, but the school age children should either be able to play in the gym or be able to hang out in the library. I will let you know! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The location of the forum has been set. We will meet in the little theater at the junior high school. This be on Monday, November 17 at 6:30 pm. We will try to conduct it similar to a town hall meeting. DO NOT BE APATHETIC ABOUT YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION!!!! SHOW UP! The school board and your administrators will be there to hear your voice. They want to hear from you. It will also be a place to listen. To listen to why we are trying this new way of math. To hear the data from those who decided to take us in this direction and hear a couple of teachers explain how they are teaching it. I will also be speaking as an opponent. (That, I am sure, is no big surprise to most of you.) However, we need to hear from you. You are the MOST IMPORTANT piece to the puzzle.
The school board meeting was last night. I was only given 5 minutes to present my argument to our school board members. (I did run a little long). The teachers presenting were given unlimited time to present their argument to our board. However, the forum will be my venue to present our full argument to the board. Let them hear from all of us that day...we will have all the time we need to speak and be heard. To those of you who came to support our position, thank you! Look forward to seeing you all at our Forum.

(FYI: For those of you who have asked the question...I did call the administration office approximately one week ahead of time and asked to be put on the agenda for the school board meeting. I was told at that time I would be able to make public comment. I did not realize I would only have five minutes to plead our case at that time. It was only when I got up to talk that I was told I had five minutes.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Love this comment from one of our own parents...

I had to share. To whomever spoke these words.... THANK YOU. You understand and have summed up in your brief, but so eloquent, comment why we must revisit the current math curricula in our school. You are so right!

Anonymous said...
While reading this information about why traditional elementary math must be discarded I can't help to think about all of the awesome programs at Camdenton Schools and compare. We have one of the best football programs in the state. Our players memorize many plays and procedures. I see them practice in 100 degree weather before school even starts because the coaches know that practice is essential. Our marching band is amazing! It always impresses me when I watch them not only march in step together, but play music beautifully. This comes from hours of practice. Again, the director knows the importance of practice and memorization. Our choirs, even at the elementary level, are outstanding. They practice and memorize the words and actions to the songs. I could go on and on. The factor that all of our District's excellent programs have in common is practice and memorization. I hope we will choose to put these factors back into our math program. Camdenton has a tradition of excellence. I hope we don't break that tradition.Thank you again.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some Facts About Our New Math Curriculum

Some interesting facts that we all need to know:

1) TERC removes teaching the times tables to children.
2) No valid math study has ever been performed showing the
effectiveness of Investigations Math.
3) California and Michigan implemented programs identical to
TERC and forced enrollment in college freshmen remedial math
classes more than doubled over just a few years.
4) "Children tend not to learn what they are not taught." Dr.
Ralph Raimi (wrote article comparing TERC to Singapore Math)
TERC doesn't teach, it lets children do “discovery learning.”
5) Hundreds of university leading math professors and Nobel
Laureates condemn Investigations Math.
6) TERC recommends a text for teachers called "Beyond
Arithmetic". In this book it says traditional elementary math
must be discarded because:
• Was "developed to meet the needs of the 19th century."
BA, Page 2
• Requires that students "memorize many facts,
procedures, definitions, and formulas." BA, Page 2
• "Focuses on learning a particular set of procedures for
addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of
whole numbers, fractions, and decimals." BA, Page 2
• Results in "over practiced students." BA, Page 3
• Ignores the fact that "today's students have an important
tool available to them: the calculator." BA, Page 77

My question is with reference to #6, and why TERC asserts that we need to discard traditional elementary math (above noted in red) from our schools.....I don't know about you, but how are those things bad? (except for the part about the calculator). One of my favorite elementary school teachers emailed this to me. We laughed about how ludicrous this was and I decided to share it with all of you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Progress Report

I am so pleased to tell you that Dr. Overlander and I met for about 4 hours this afternoon. We are so very fortunate to have a top administrator who really does care. He listened to me as a mom voice all of my concerns for my children and the multitudes of you who have shared your same stories of frustration with me. He heard from many of us today through our meeting. He wanted for me to express to ANY parent that had concerns or questions that he has an open door. He invites calls or emails, and sincerely wants to hear from the parents. He is a good man, and beyond a shadow of the doubt wants to do what is right by our children. He went above and beyond today to hear our concerns and I believe he is committed to making our school the very best it can be.

We are working together to make sure the forum is what you the parents want it to be. So, I ask you...what is it that we are looking to accomplish? Do we want a town hall meeting? Do we want to hear an argument for and one against the new math? Have you had enough of the against argument through this site and want to hear their case now? Do you want to just speak your mind? For me, I want to hear other parents concerns. I want to hear their stories of either successes or failures and learn where the parents want to see this go. I would like to hear how the decision was made and why, to take this math that we had been using as a supplement to our core. I want to know why our 3rd and 4th grades were instructed not to supplement. I want to know why is this curricula good for us, and not good for our neighbors in Columbia who trained us in this new math. I want to know what the elementary school teachers really want. I also want to know that if the majority speaks and we decide, collectively, that this must be changed sooner than soon can we expect to see that happen? Please let us know so we can decide how to set this forum up and accomplish what we all hope that it will be. We want as many people as possible walking away feeling like they got what they came for. Post a comment and share your thoughts. Our superintendent WANTS to work with us. He wants to meet us where we are and really listen. Please remember that we all want what is best for our kids. We have to work together in achieving those results sooner than later.

TERC Considered An Experiment By The National Research Council

I found these facts to be alarming. I believe that even one year potentially lost to a "trial and error" approach to a math curriculum can potentially put my child at an irreversible deficit in the future. I don't want to lose his/her very formative elementary school years just to learn through test scores in 5-6 years that maybe this curricula change wasn't such a good idea after all. That is what happened to our neighbors in Columbia Public Schools. I do think Investigations and Everyday Math have great supplemental potential to reach that fringe 25% who need a alternative angle to look at different math techniques and provoke a new way to look at a problem. However, with these being such crucial learning years should this be our core curriculum?

For those of you who ask..."Who is the National Research Council":
It is a branch of the National Academies, private nonprofit institutions which has as a goal to further knowledge and advise the federal government.
TERC considered an experiment by the National Research Council
We've been experimented on. The National Research Council concluded that 13 NSF reform math texts in use "essentially have been experiments" (On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: p.188). These NSF texts include EverydayMath and TERC Investigations in Number, Data, & Space.
The NRC evaluated a total of nineteen curricula and published a book that can be purchased on On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: Judging Quality Of K-12 Mathematics Evaluations, or read painfully online.In the book's conclusion the NRC explains that to first find out if a major investment in an approach is successful and worthwhile is responsible policy. The NRC further notes that the experiment was a success in that it sparked a national debate. Is your child part of this experiment? Do you mind that the measure of success of your little experiment is the sparking of a national debate? What about your kid?The conclusion states: "These 19 curricular projects essentially have been experiments. We owe them a careful reading on their effectiveness. "Demands for evaluation may be cast as a sign of failure, but we would rather stress that this examination is a sign of the success of these programs to engage a country in a scholarly debate on the question of curricular effectiveness and the essential underlying question, What is most important for our youth to learn in their studies in mathematics? "To summarily blame national decline on a set of curricula whose use has a limited market share lacks credibility. "At the same time, to find out if a major investment in an approach is successful and worthwhile is a prime example of responsible policy.In experimentation, success and worthiness are two different measures of experimental value. An experiment can fail and yet be worthy. "The experiments that probably should not be run are those in which it is either impossible to determine if the experiment has failed or it is ensured at the start, by design, that the experiment will succeed. The contribution of the committee is intended to help us ascertain these distinctive outcomes." Do you want your child to be in the experiment? If not, say so. The experiments will continue for as long as parents are willing to put up with it. View the NRC report.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

School Board Meeting

I will be addressing the school board on Monday night during the public comment portion of the meeting. For those of you who have any interest in attending that will be on Monday, November 10 at 5:30 pm. It will be held at the Osage Beach Elementary library. This will not be a forum, simply an opportunity to inform the board of our concerns.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Forum Time and Date Set

A forum time and date has been set tentatively for Monday, November 17th at 6:30 pm. I am currently working with our administration to set a place. This will be a very civil, open forum for those of you who have questions and concerns. A place to speak and be heard for those of you who believe that this program is working. The same for those of you who do not. And a place for those of you who just want to show up and formulate your own opinion based on the facts. All of us need to be willing to come with an open mind in an effort to try to keep the most important thing at the center of this dialogue, and that is what is best for our children.

I understand that many of you are very passionate about this issue and have the best interest of your children at heart whether for or against it. With that in mind, I will be moderating the comments from this point on to make sure that this does not become a venue to eternally divide us. I believe that if this math curriculum is really what is best for our students we need to be open. Apparently our administration does, and must have a strong argument. We need to hear their data. If the majority of parents, teachers, and members of our community support it, then it is up to each of us to do what we think is best to supplement our children on our own and support that majority. However, if it turns out that the majority of us don't believe it is the right thing for our children and their futures, then we need to revisit this curriculum immediately to put our children on the right track sooner than later. This is why it is so very important that you and every other parent, teacher, and member of our community show up to become informed either way. I will let you know as soon as we have a location.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday PTO Meeting

Dear Camdenton Parents,

I just wanted to give everyone a little update. Several parents attended the PTO meeting tonight. Thank you for those who came to participate in "educating" yourself on what is going on with the Math curriculum. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Overlander just prior to the meeting. I do believe that the administration has the best interest of our children at heart. I think that communication with parents has been made secondary, thus the reason for the outcry now. We must work with our administrators to see a swift resolution to this issue. They have asked for a forum where YOU the parents and the TEACHERS(if you will....and I understand why you can't if you won't) can be heard and they can present their case. I hope that you all show up and tell every parent,grandparent, guardian, and member of our community that may see our Math as a potential problem now and in the future to SHOW UP! Your opinions do count and the administration wants and needs to hear how you feel. I will keep you posted on where and when this will happen so watch for a time and place. I will post it as soon as I know more.

Also...please know that your comments are appreciated and wanted! I know that many, many of you are frustrated and need an outlet....however, as I noted at the inception of this blog: THIS IS NOT A WITCH HUNT! Please know that everyone wants a positive outcome to this controversy and we all have to work together to see that happen SOONER THAN LATER. We are NOT here to attack individuals, we are here to work together to see a swift resolution.
Thank you for the overwhelming support!

Sincerest Regards,



Here are some great resources to link to with some excellent perspectives from all over our country with reference to the math our kids are being taught.

The site from Columbia, Missouri shares all newspaper articles, parental insight, links to other awesome resources, and an eloquent illustration of exactly why this new math was so frightening to that school district. Columbia Parents for Real Math:

Investigations Math Origins and Articles
*Review of studies touted by TERC(the Investigations Math creator) (the conclusion was the study had .... The California Investigations Math Failure** - 38k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Teach Math Right - Stop "Investigating" in PWCS
PWCS SOL Test Score pass rates FLAT Line under fuzzy math program for 3d Grade ... TERC's Math Investigations curriculum does not support the critical - 63k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Everyday Math in Stafford County Schools
The children of Stafford County should not be made to suffer from the deficiencies in the Everyday Math reference books, simply because the school district - 75k - Cached - Similar pages - Note

Michelle Malkin » Fuzzy math: A nationwide epidemic
Fuzzy math: A nationwide epidemic. By Michelle Malkin • November 28, 2007 09:49 AM. 1em1.jpg My column this week covers the long-fought fuzzy math wars and - 104k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

Fuzzy Math « 5 Kids and a Dog
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building ... Fuzzy WASL math is failing our kids By Val Stevens - 28k - Cached - Similar pages -

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Couple of Interesting Points of View....

In an attempt to try to explain what our kids are "trying" to learn....take a look at this dialogue. This was pulled from called: TERC Investigations In My Kids School--HELP! Be aware, Camdenton Parents, so many of you that I have talked to are all in the same boat! I cannot tell you how many of you shared with me that you are paying for a tutor for your child so they will not fall any further behind, or spending an exaggerated amount of time on just one problem. These are hallmarks of this particular math curriculum not just here, but all over the country. You are not alone!

TERC or Math Investigations is a new way of teaching math. From TERC's web site, "Investigations is a complete K-5 mathematics curriculum, developed at TERC in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is designed to help all children understand the fundamental ideas of number and operations, geometry, data, measurement and early algebra."What Investigations does not do is:Teach times table to children Teach the traditional arithmetic algorithms. Instead children are made to "rote memorize" convoluted and excruciatingly complicated procedures to solve basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems. Teach long division at all.In fact, TERC's recommended handbook for teachers called "Beyond Arithmetic" says traditional elementary math must be discarded because it ignores the fact that "today's students have an important tool available to them: the calculator." Yep. The program actually advocates teaching children how to do more complex arithmetic, because it's too hard, in favor of teaching children how to use a calculator. The children's text book includes a huge section on using a calculator and not one worked about long division.This video pretty much sums up the concerns parents have with Investigations.'d really like to see if any school district has ever been successful in removing Investigations and replacing it with a more acceptable alternative. Thus far I haven't found any.

Taken from the same forum mentioned above:
We had that is our school district, until the parents stood up and really took action, we now have that plus they are moving the old school math back in.In my opinion Investigations is not very parent friendly. It excludes the parents from helping the child at home, because the parents know the old way when 2 + 2 = 4.Investigations is there are more than one way to get to 4, so 2 + 2 doesn't equal 4. This is very confusing and difficult for a child to start to understand the basics of math. My children didn't do well with this, and I ended up having to go to Score learning Center with them at my own cost.Then after Investigations comes estimations, which they learn to round answers off rather then come to the exact answer, again another negative way to teach math.These programs are not being reviewed by parents on the local level prior to implementation. The boards of educations no longer hold curriculum review nights for parents to review materials and discuss potential pros and cons of changes based on fact finding.Now the Teachers Union and Association of School Psychologists tell the districts what to pick. The are implementing broad base changes from the national level, without parents approvals or inputs. This is totally against the National Defense Education Act passed in 1953 by President Eisenhower.

Please leave a comment and share what you are experiencing with your child. Also, please take a look at what others in our district are saying about their experiences.