Thursday, May 07, 2009

Public School Math Wars: The Battle of Seattle

I know just about zero when it comes to teaching Math, Math textbooks and the battlelines in the oft-discussed "Math Wars".

In fifteen years of K-12 teaching all I've learned in this regard is that the mention of certain Math teaching concepts and textbooks to certain Math teachers is a perfect opportunity to see apoplexy and rage in action. Some of the most mild-mannered folks you ever wanna see can go positively mouth-foaming psychotic when terms like "IMP" and "Discovering Math" come up.

It's fun to inject these terms into innocent conversation with certain math colleagues just for the reaction. Fellow non-Math teachers at middle schools are encouraged to casually whisper "Connected Math" to a Math teacher at the next staff meeting. The reaction, positive or negative, is sure to liven up a dull meeting.

So when I see stories like this from the now online-only Seattle PI about the local fight between "Discovering Math" and Prentice-Hall Publishing textbook take on Math, I don't know who is right or wrong. All I know, especially from reading the 103 comments (at this writing) to the story, is that some people take these things very, very seriously.

Actual wars could easily be fought over this stuff. As with seemingly all Internet comments, many of the aforementioned 103 are full of "liberal lemmings of the education bureaucracy" crap, but others are definitely worth a look-see for those, like me, interested and bewildered by the vitriol, passion and obscure references.

The Seattle battle, including everybody from "experts" to the school board is also interesting. Does our APS school board even tackle this sort of stuff? What exactly is it the APS school board does again? I'm drawing a blank. Not that anybody would really want the APS school board deciding anything like textbook adoption.

Seriously, does the school board do this? I sincerely can't remember the last time the APS school board performed a memorable act regarding anything.

P.S.: I just looked through some recent school board agendas at Nope, nothing earth-shattering there. Meanwhile, how is that new website coming along? I hold some nostalgia about the Internet circa-1998, but perhaps it's time APS moved a tiny bit closer to the year 2009 in this regard. Or even 2004.


ched macquigg said...

The APS school board has only three assigned duties; hire the supt, write district policies, and approve the budget.

They have no statutory authority to affect text book selection.

The website, is scheduled for update. RFPs have been solicited. Monica Armenta revealed at the last board meeting, that even changing pictures (of board member?) causes a crash.

Anonymous said...

just to add to the mix, did you know one of the newest Board members is a former math professor, David Peercy?