Parents criticize "Everyday Math" program
By Lynda Wellman
The New Milford [CT] Spectrum
December 17, 2004
Parents who are unhappy with the current math program used in New Milford elementary schools are urging the Board of Education to expedite a review of the program.
Beth Pitcher, the mother of three elementary school children, told members of the school board Tuesday night that students are not learning basic math facts or standard math procedures in the current "Everyday Math" program.
"Everyday Mathematics" is the result of a collaboration between the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project author team, mathematicians, education specialists, and classroom teachers. It's published by Wright Group/McGraw-Hill.
Ms. Pitcher and others believe that "calculators are introduced too early" and standard long division is "barely taught" in "Everyday Math." Parents say there is mounting evidence the program does not work and point out that states that have adopted "Everyday Math" are reconsidering its effectiveness.
"If California can admit a mistake, why shouldn't the town of New Milford admit a mistake and take steps to correct it?" Ms. Pitcher asked.
Bev Regan, the principal at Sarah Noble Intermediate School, however, asked the board to consider the strengths of the current program and if members decide not to continue using "Everyday Math" that the replacement program include those strengths.
Mrs. Regan is a former high school math teacher and math curriculum coordinator for the system.
"Math test scores have never been higher," she told the board Tuesday. "It is a proven program that is giving our students great success." Mrs. Regan said students do memorize basic facts and are taught long division but do not spend months doing it. She said the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has said very few people today do long division using paper and pencil, they use calculators.
But she stressed that students are taught the basics.
Parent Cathy Farrell questioned the basis for the current mathematics standards. She said states across the country were given federal financial incentives to adopt "constructivist math programs" that are basically "watered down math".
As a result, she said, "We are simply not competing in the world." Ms. Farrell urged the school board to use the "What Works Clearinghouse as a guide" for choosing a new math program and to make choosing a new program a priority.
Monica Harcken, a former middle school math teacher, said students need a more sequential approach in which they master skills before moving on to new skills. She said colleges report that freshmen need more remedial math help.
Sandy Ho said children learn in stages in the best math programs starting with fundamentals.
"This is a sad, sad story with many casualties," she said, adding that a cure is available.
Ms. Ho said the board could choose whether to debate the diagnosis or start the treatment.
The school board took no action Tuesday. Administrators are reviewing the math curriculum.
[A box or sidebar in the article pulled out this:
"If California can admit a mistake, why shouldn't the town of New Milford admit a mistake and take steps to correct it?"
Mother of three elementary students]
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