After a math forum, district leaders say they will fix the current curriculum and will not offer a choice.
by Amy Cavalier
The Penfield (NY) Post
June 23, 2005
Stay the course. No choice. The Penfield Board of Education took a clear position on the district's math program at Tuesday night's meeting.
According to President Anthony Felicetti, six of the seven board members said they would not support offering a choice between traditional math and reformed math in September.
"There will not be two separate courses," said Felicetti.
That's not to say the new math curriculum doesn't need work.
"There's no question that there have been some shortcomings and issues we want to deal with," Felicetti said.
He said teachers, administrators and the board will be assessing the current program over the summer and making changes to create a "balanced program for next year with more traditional math."
Some of those changes include aligning the new curriculum with New York state standards, creating clear "accuracy, efficiency and automaticity" benchmarks at each grade level and clarifying expectations of supplemental materials teachers can use.
Felicetti said the board is also committed to continue working with the parents group.
The board's sentiments echoed comments made by Superintendent Susan Gray at the previous Thursday night's math forum.
"The board has not gotten to discuss this at this point in time, but I will recommend we provide a balanced program, not two programs," Gray told more than 50 parents at a math forum in the Bay Trail Middle School Library last Thursday.
At the center of the controversy are the district's current math curriculum: TERC Investigations at the elementary school, Connected Mathematics at the middle school level and Core Plus in the high school.
Thursday's meeting of district administrators, math teachers, school board members and parents was prompted by the group Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs.
Members say the programs, developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, are failing their children. They say the curriculum lacks reference material, focus on basic math concepts and that the programs rely too heavily on calculators and group work, among other concerns.
Earlier this year, the group of more than 60 parents presented the school board with a petition of almost 700 signatures with residents asking for a choice by fall 2005.
After Gray's comments at the math forum, parent Anand Choudri asked the school board to make their own decision.
"If they are truly interested in representing the constituents that have elected them, they must take the time to look at the data, listen to the community and then take action," he said. "If they truly believe that the current math program is the way to go, then they should keep it, but they can't determine that by sitting there and listening to administration only."
At Thursday's meeting, both sides stated their cases, Gray answered parents' questions and then the group broke up into small group sessions. Other answers to questions were provided in written form.
For founder of Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs, Bill Munch, Tuesday's Board of Education meeting was disappointing. He said the parents group is still expecting the district to conduct a survey of parents and students which he believes will show the math program to be very detrimental.
Short of having members of the parent group run for school board next year, Munch said he is afraid there is only one way to get rid of reformed math in Penfield.
"It may take 10 years of continually lower and lower math grades to rid Penfield of this atrocious math program," he said.
For more information:
# For more information about Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs visit www.teachusmath.com.
# The materials presented at Thursday night's Math Forum, including answers to more than 60 questions by Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs, will be posted on the district's Web site, www.penfield.edu under the News and Information link in the Math Program Information category.
For more about the Penfield, NY, Mathematics curriculum controversy please visit Parents Concerned With Penfield's Math Programs and see the NYC HOLD summary page Controversy over Mathematics in Penfield, NY, Public Schools.
Return to the NYC HOLD main page or to the News page or to the Letters and Testimony page.