Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Answers Offered

In continued efforts to present a fair and balanced blog...I thought I would share a recent comment from a very distressed reader. I did my best to answer those questions that he/she accused me of not being willing to answer. Just thought you might want to take a peek, and realize that some people are really mad about this on the other side and want to make this a personal attack. I hope that the majority of you understand this is not personal for me and should not be for any of you. This is about math ONLY. Anyway...I did my best to answer the questions offered. Hope this helps.

I have been reading your blog and listening to your arguments for some time, and I have never responded until now.I feel very comfortable responding because we all know that the blogs that have a different opinion than yours, never seem to make it to your blogspot. (So, if this is the first time to would you even know that I reject any posts? Looks to me like you are THAT "hate" poster....again. But, I will post you this time not just in the comment portion. I will post your comment front and center since you have felt so neglected to this point. Sorry about that, but typically when comments come in that are hateful in nature and show unfounded research they don't make the cut. Also, if your comment is so "ignorant" I hate to post it because it invites unproductive banter on my site...which I prefer to avoid if possible. None-the-less, I hope this makes up for any hurt feelings. Anyway...understand that this is my blog and I have no responsibility to post things I believe to be off color or poor research. I am allowed to post whatever I want on my blog. That is why it is called a blog.

Furthermore what makes an anonymous poster's research so valid? At least I am willing to put my name on it. As far as I am concerned speculation by some angry blogger isn't worthy of making the cut...sorry.) I find that amazing. (What? Start your own site if you don't like it. It makes me laugh to think that someone is having an "anonymous tantrum" because they can't manipulate me into posting their very skewed opinion on my blog. FYI: Only the truth is allowed here. NO SPIN.). I think that there are many, many issues that you have yet to address or even think about. So lets get started. (Gladly)

#1 When was it that you acquired your educational degree? Since you have now appointed yourself as the "educational expert " for the Camdenton School District, I was just interested in your credentials. First of all, I have not appointed myself the educational expert for the Camdenton Schools. I have never said that. I am simply asking questions with merit that have been asked for months now that no one knows how to answer in our administration. And when you are managing something as precious as our children the answers that have been asked should not be hard. Yet we have still not heard one answer. I am asking for accountability from those who have made the decisions. Nothing more. Nothing less.

With reference to the matter of credentials, that is a very good question. I am glad you bring this up. Not with reference to mine. My credentials do not rest in the field of education. However, credentials of those administering these programs and have chosen them should be questioned I agree. I would love to see that done and those credentials carefully evaluated. You are so right...when it comes to the education of our children those credentials should bear much weight.

#2 On your blog you stated in one of your ramblings that the math scores for the school were not "that bad". (Okay...let's go there. I was making reference to "not bad" in comparison to where we were in relation to reading. They definitely did not need as much attention as our falling comm art scores. That is why we are so upset. This is a reading rich curriculum that requires proficient reading scores. We do not post even decent reading scores. So whose bright idea was it to deviate from working on the obvious area of decline? Why are we focusing on Math when reading is so much worse and has shown steady decline in recent years in all grade levels? Why were we not looking at a much needed change with our reading curriculum? Why did we set up our children for failure by taking them to a curriculum that is centered around word problems when we know they can't read? That is the true context that those words were spoken in.) When I looked up the information it shows that our test scores have been at 45%,( while there did you notice that our third graders last year took a 10% decline over the third graders the year before in MAP testing? Yes, this may be a coincidence, but it looks suspicious when you factor that 3 teachers went to this curriculum without supplementation last year and 2 teachers went part time. I think you need to get your facts straight. 45% is not accurate, at least for our third grade. ) which to me means that 55% of our students are not "getting it". (At this point you can look at that in this way is better than 65% not getting it, and that is really what is happening. I am a glass half full kind of girl;) That really seems like an okay percentage to you? The test scores I believe are the results of the "old way" of math that you love, right? (If you have read any research or anything that I have ever written, I am asking for balance. I do not want JUST a traditional approach. Our kids have NOT had that in grades k-2 in Camdenton since 1994. Yep, that is right that is when Everyday Math was first piloted. So...I say it is long overdue that our children get to try the "old way" for a change. We have failed with the reform math for well over a decade now in our elementary schools. Is that not a long enough time for you to deduce it does not work? For me, I think the writing is on the wall and has been for years now. My son and all of his peers in third grade have had their math changed 4 TIMES IN 4 YEARS!!!!! And guess what...he has not had traditional math in any of those 4 years as his core! NOT ONE TIME!!! So, call me crazy but, yes I think that it is long overdue that we look into something that just might work for a change. ) Just for thought, if this "old way" of math is so terrific, why then do we as the United States score so terribly on EVERY international math test? (Maybe that is because since 1989 this hideous and insidious kind of math has plagued our country. Read the research.)

#3 I love that you have an online petition that has people who: have asked for their names to be removed, but you have not done it, people who do not live in our district, and people listed twice. Shows that you are lacking integrity I believe. ( I hate to disappoint you, but I don't spend my days counting our online votes and validating every single voter at this point. Between the paper push and the online votes I cannot and do not "police" that. It has gotten way too big for me to track at this point. I have, however, spoke with Roland Todd (our county clerk) weeks ago and have asked him to verify/validate all of our petition signers when the time comes. Ask him yourself. That has already been addressed. I am impressed that you apparently are on patrol, though. You apparently have way more time on your hands than I do. I have not heard from one person who wants their name taken off. That is news to me. As far as the person who voted twice...she hit the submit button twice accidentally. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out as her name appears twice in a row. I have no idea how to remove that. For you to call my integrity into question Mr./Mrs. Anonymous is almost comical. Again, your speculation is nothing more than that to me at this point...pure speculation. )

#4 Are you more interested in what you would consider "winning", than in doing what is best for our kids? ( You know what... if "winning" means that they will receive the quality of education that they deserve, then yes. If "winning" IS doing what is best for our kids and I believe that to be the most worthwhile cause that I could ever fight for....then the answer to that question is a whole-hearted "YES"!)

#5 Just wondered how many of your little groupies have ever attended a Math night at school? I have never seen any of you there. Oh, I forgot you hold your meetings at the same time. ( I will be honest, I don't know the answer to that question. My little groupies are too many to count these days and I am not their keeper. Those "groupies" I think might find that connotation offensive. These are educated moms and dads who love their children. They have a right to be concerned, they have a vested interest in this fight called their children. I find it insulting to address those very concerned parents in such a belittling way. They are respected members of this community who deserve a voice when it comes to their children. They are not a part of this because it is fun, they have chosen to take a stand because they fear for their children which is more than I can say for you "anonymous".

I, personally, feel the math nights to be a complete and total waste of my time as I will never be persuaded that this math as anything more than a supplement is okay. It is irresponsible and damaging to our childrens' futures, and at some point that will be acknowledged. I just about guarantee it. It will manifest through our childrens' scores or the outcries of high school teachers who see the damage on the front lines sooner or later just as it has ALL OVER THE NATION! It is what it is, and I want no part of accepting it as our core.

I am educated. I know what it is and I know the damage that it causes. I have a legion of "teachers" from all over the state and in all parts of the United States. You see, I KNOW the truth. I really know the truth. I have chosen to spend my extra time at home helping my child with real math. I can't say that I will never go for the purpose of accountability, but to this point I have had no desire to attend. I, frankly, view it as a waste of my time.

#6 If you are truly so concerned that your kids are not getting the education that you want for them, and you can do it better, why not pull them out and homeschool? (Why should I have to? I bet you would love that wouldn't you? Why don't we just buck up and find some accountability and fix it? We have fabulous teachers whom I trust implicitly with the care of my children. Why can't our administration put the same trust in them that I do and just let them be the teachers? )

#7 If I understand correctly, the reason that OBE did not have to use the math program was because they do not have to make the progress that the town schools do.(Hello....hint: Maybe if we took a few lessons from them we might see some success. Ever thought of that? Are you hearing yourself? The solution seems pretty simple doesn't it?) If the town schools scores were at 80% we would not have had to do something different either, right? (Why not...we have had something different for the past 4 years for the poor children in Camdenton...heck, what is one more year? I know...let's just experiment with these kids who have had no continuity since they have been in school and see how the fare with this off-the-wall I said, what is just one more year of experimentation on them...who cares?) When I looked at how many students OBE has I think that they have 2 classrooms of about 15 students, versus 11 classrooms of 21-22 students. Do you think that could factor into any of this? (NO. I think that EVERY child in this school district should be offered the same quality of education irregardless of class size. Your argument is weak when you see that our third graders last year in comparison to OBE showed a margin of approximately 50% to the deficit (see graph in prior post). Is that because of a class size differentiation of 6-7 students? I don't think so. There is a much bigger problem here. That is the simple fact that the children of Camdenton in elementary school have NOT been offered ONE steady curriculum or changes every year. That is what part of our problem is. Our problem is that our teachers have no voice. Our problem is accountability. So, if you would like to keep offering weak excuses as to why our children should not be allowed the same opportunities as those at OBE, then don't waste your breath. Excuses don't impress us much.)

#8 While I see that you have a handful of people who think that you are championing there cause, I wonder if any of you have enough sense to see how your behavior and constant complaining is truly embarrassing,I have yet to hear you offer ONE solution. (I will tell you what is embarrassing...this math is embarrassing. It is embarrassing that our administration has adopted such a controversial curriculum with no substantive research to support it. It is embarrassing that our third graders have had FOUR math curricula in FOUR YEARS! It is embarrassing that someone made the oversight of sticking our kids who can't read into a math curriculum that is incumbent on their reading ability to be successful. It is embarrassing that when our school offers names of other schools supposedly doing this math as their core over half of them have never used it EVER! It is embarrassing that NONE of those schools use this math as anything more than a supplement! It is embarrassing when talking to a multitude of other districts throughout our state and they laugh when you tell them that our kids are forced to do it without supplementation. MOST OF THEM HAD NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING! That is embarrassing. It is embarrassing when some of the schools we were given to support our school's argument as to the "who else is doing this" have never even heard of Investigations or TERC math. It is embarrassing that we would be so arrogant to think we could pull off something that Columbia or Raymore Peculiar (just to name only a couple in a sea of failures) could not. It is embarrassing that our district officials wrote it off as "political" without even digesting all of the failing test scores from Columbia across the board. It is embarrassing that our administration apparently ignored the Department of Educations warnings that came out in March of 2008 with reference to this way of teaching math in their report called the Foundations For Success. It is embarrassing that our school board and administration cannot and will not answer our very valid questions. It is embarrassing that they would ask a group of very educated parents to just give our blessings to the experimenting with our children with no valid research to support this choice. It is embarrassing that we don't give our teachers a voice in something as important as this. That is embarrassing.

If you view my demand for accountability and questions that should have been answered long before our school district chose to drag our children down this ridiculous path as embarrassing, then what do you call those oversights that our school continues to make? I am sorry if I make you so uncomfortable, but a very wise man reminded us just this week "You are your child's only advocate. There is no cause more worthwhile." I happen to agree with him. So, I guess what I am saying is this...I don't really care if I embarrass you. I don't even know who you are. Since you won't use your name, it is pretty hard for me to make sure I don't offend you in public. I hate that, but that is what "anonymous" will get you. With reference to the solution we are offering... I am pretty sure that you know how to navigate the petition portion of this site. So, next time before you police the signature page stop for just a second and read the petition. There in very detailed terms is the "solution" we are looking for, since apparently you have missed that before. It is all there. )

I know I will never see a response from any of the above mentioned things, I just wanted to let you know that there are people who are not buying into what you are doing. (I think that if you had ever really read this site the answers to those questions should be pretty obvious, but I am happy to spell them out for you. I hope it helped. As I have said many times, this is not about people. This is about a math program that we don't agree on. There are very good people who like this way of teaching whom I believe to be outstanding people. I have nothing against any person involved. I just want was is best for my child and yours. )

Please read the comment portion from "How Do You Like Them Apples II" to have a better idea of what precipitated this post.