Saturday, January 19, 2008

Politics and public education

The Texas Ed Spectator reports on a sad story in Texas in Because they don’t like it. In short some school districts started using:

"... Everyday Mathematics books in kindergarten through sixth grade at 19 schools with low math scores during the 2000-01 school year. By the end of the year, only two of those schools still had low scores; a year later, none of them did, said Camille Malone, DISD’s director of mathematics."

Sounds good doesn't? The children weren't learning, the schools decided to going with "Everyday Mathematics" and there is a huge change, suddenly students who were lost are now getting it and make great progress.

Now the politics get in the way. The Texas state Board of Education has rejected the math books. There is a huge politic issue on can local schools pick their textbooks. The issue seems to be much more political than educational.

Read the whole post for more information.

A couple decades ago homeschoolers use to be attack for not being "professional" and thus not capable of teaching their children. In contrast even if the teachers are capable, often they are not allowed to effectively teach the students.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education


rebeccat said...

I can't really comment on the politics involved, but everyday mathematics is a horrifically terrible math program. I have a hard time believing that its introduction actually resulted in improved math scores. I would be willing to bet good money that the improvement of math scores co-incideded with something else like rejiggering the test to make it easier.
It is really almost impossible to fully describe how awful this math program is. The NYC schools have been forcing their teachers to use it and the kids aren't doing well and teachers aren't happy to say the least. Many other schools have tried it and dropped it after their students math score crashed and burned.
Anyhow, I just thought I'd share.

concernedCTparent said...

Everyday Math only results in better test scores when the test is in sync with its own incredibly low, incoherent idea of teaching math. If you look closely, you'll likely find that the standardized test was changed to match Everyday Math's vague idea of mathematics education. Look at the NAEP scores in Texas and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. Have those same children take a test of international math standards set at a level of learning that supports advanced math and science study and I can predict, almost to a certainty, that those same children who appear to have improved will fail miserably. Everyday Math is failing children. It has no place in our schools.

This has been turned into a political debate but the truth is, it isn't and shouldn't be about politics.

There a parents across this nation who are protesting Everyday Math in their schools. They are liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Independent, religious, agnostic, and atheist. They are parents, in many instances, who are mathematicians, scientists, and professionals who depend upon advanced mathematics for a living. This is a big deal and I'm glad it's getting some attention.

*I am a home educator. I pulled my children out of school BECAUSE OF Everyday Math.

Crimson Wife said...

I have a problem with a committee of educrats in the state capitol telling teachers which textbook to use. If a teacher can actually get his/her students to actually understand math using the convoluted methods contained in "Everyday Math", then more power to him/her. Frankly, I'm skeptical that it's a legitimate improvement in mathematical achievement. However, if that should prove to be indeed the case, then it should be the teacher's call whether or not to use it.

I don't think there's one magic math program that's best for everyone. Saxon works very well for many homeschool families but all the repetition contained in it would absolutely drive my DD up the wall!

adsoofmelk said...

Henry, I'm not a mathematician, but when we were deciding what curriculum to use, I did a decent amount of research and heard almost nothing but a tsnunami of negative reviews of EM, mostly clustered around the notion that the program is ineffective and the algorithms the text suggests are unwieldy and cumbersome. I'm not offering this as *my* opinion, because I'm passing it on, but rather as a possible (legitimate) reason to do away with EM as an ineffective program.


Eric Holcombe said...

Well, to continue beating a dead horse....

"It is really almost impossible to fully describe how awful this math program is."

I thought I remembered the name of the book. This lady does a pretty sufficient job of showing its merits:

The Texas folks waking up to smell the coffee should realize that it is even more depressing if you happen to not live in Texas or California, because once those two markets are "sold" on a textbook, the other 48 will adopt them. They are so large that the publishers can get by on them alone. Lots of "influence" is used on those states.

Henry Cate said...

Everyone, thanks for your comments.

It sounds like the real politics happened to get the school districts to go with "Everyday Math."

Eric, it is kind of funny, I just posted the video last week! M. J. McDermott does pick on "Everyday Math" as a bad math book.

concernedCTparent said...

Crimson Wife.... The alternative doesn't have to be Saxon. Our household prefers Singapore Math. You should check out their placement assessments to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

And the word problems... they are simply masterful!

Singapore Math Placement