At the Tuesday, Nov. 27, Board of Education meeting, parents voiced concerns about a new math program for middle- and high-school students. It was implimented before the board approved it using the text books the board had not approved.
This means money was spent by the school administration without the board's approval. The approval process -- whereby the board vets programs, curriculum, textbooks and spending -- was bypassed by the administration.
Several board members echoed parent concern about the unauthorized implementation and expense and asked that the matter be put on the agenda for the board's Dec. 11 meeting.
After ensuring questions to Superintendent David Title, board Vice-Chairman Pam Iacono floated her opinion that a period toward the end of meetings when board members can comment on anything should be dropped "because it allows the superintendent to be ambushed."
What? Isn't it the board's mandate to listen to the community's concerns -- be they on curriculum, PCBs, or safe school climate -- and to engage the school administration in an open discussion for all to be informed and held accountable? Aren't the board members elected by constituents to represent them? Shouldn't this body work to insure that checks and balances in the system remain active?
The public-comment and open-board comment periods at meetings must be maintained as a important parts of the democratic process. The central office has refused repeated requests by parents and the PTA Council for an open forum on curriculum. Parents have had to resort to Freedom of Information Act requests to the central office to try to get answers. The open-board comment period is our only recourse for an open dialogue with the administration. The board must fulfill its obligation to represent public's best interests and keep its trust public trust by maintaining that forum.
A slow erosion of this safety net would lead to total control by the administration without accountability. The citizens of Bridgeport recently dodged a similar attack on their rights by rejecting a referendum that would have stripped them of their right to elect school board members.
The new math curriculum should be discussed at the next board meeting. If you are concerned about the "new math," implementing curriculums without approval, unchecked spending or taxation without representation, you need to call and write school board members and to show up at the Dec. 11 meeting, or your voices may be silenced.