[Note: I just received the following two items: the newspaper article below, and just before that, a communication of one person's opinion, who is quite close to the situation, about what will happen next regarding the textbook adoption in Portland, OR.] ********************
Portland's superintendent again deferred a decision on what math series Portland should use. It is now scheduled for a week from today (May 10) but I have gotten leery of counting on a vote after two straight delays.
Portland, Oregon: The Oregonian, Thursday, April 22, 1999
Teachers explain math program, field concerns
Some parents at the meeting wonder why they have had little time to review the proposed new materials
By Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian staff
A large crowd composed mainly of teachers and other educators turned out Wednesday to testify about the advantages of a new way of teaching math that Portland is set to adopt for all its schools.
Only a handful of parents spoke at the only public hearing on whether the Portland Public Schools should switch to the new math series that teachers recommend. Half of those parents said they were concerned they have had little or no opportunity to learn about the series and comment on them before the school board is slated to seal the deal Monday.
"We really do need to have discussions," said Russ Plaeger, who is chairman of the site council at daVinci Middle School. Plaeger said he never got word that parents could review the proposed choices. "This is the public schools, . . . and we, the public are the district."
Parent Margaret DeLacy said she was deeply concerned after a cursory two-hour look at the fifth-grade materials. "None of the parents here has had an opportunity to look at these materials," she said.
It has been a decade since the district bought new math books for all its schools.
Some parents heartily agreed the way they learned math did not pay off. They said they are delighted the district wants to teach their children to understand math, not just perform procedures.
"This looks like something where the student who didn't get it doesn't just get left in the dark," parent Janice Dole said.
Teachers' committees spent months deciding on a unified program for the district to adopt. By consensus, they recommended a distinct new approach for elementary and middle schools that concentrates on teaching fewer topics in greater depth and emphasizes mathematical thinking over procedures and formulas.
More than a dozen educators testified at Wednesday's hearing that the new methods have paid off with greater enthusiasm, deeper understanding and higher test scores for their students.
"I have just finished giving my fifth-graders the state math test, . . . and there are some very deep-thinking problems on that test," said Sherry Lindquist, a teacher at Astor Elementary. If the proposed elementary program, Investigations in Number, Data and Space, "is used starting in kindergarten, I have no doubt those students will be better prepared at fifth grade to meet what the state is asking of them."
Andy Clark, the district's math coordinator, said he asked principals to inform parents that the dozens of math series under consideration were on display at district headquarters. But he conceded those efforts were insufficient to get as much community input as he wanted.
Some teachers said, however, they were insulted that parents would question the choice of teachers on the committee, who have decades of experience teaching math and a professional commitment to helping children meet state benchmarks.
"I trust the integrity of the people who made the decision," kindergarten teacher Cynthia McAdams said.
"I am insulted to think that someone would think that I would not" adapt any math series to make sure all parts of the state curriculum get covered, whether they are in the book or not, teacher Donna Strom said.
The recommended series will help children develop mathematical intelligence, Clark said. ------------------------------------ Betsy Hammond can be reached at 294-7623 or at <firstname.lastname@example.org> ********************************************************
* Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Fax: (618)453-4244 Phone: (618)453-4241 (office) E-mail: email@example.com