Letter: Pay attention to schools' math plan
Published 10:20 am, Friday, January 25, 2013
If you are a Fairfield parent or taxpayer, now is the time to start paying sharp attention to the direction our school administration is taking our children's math curriculum (K through 12) and our town's budget.
A new controversial math program being rolled out in our middle and high schools is failing our students and will cost our community an estimated $350,000 to $500,000 if approved by the Board of Education in a few months. Frustrated parents have formed a group, Fairfield Math Advocates, to push the school district to stop using a contentious textbook, called CPM, which is at the center of parents' concerns.
Thankfully, Fairfield's school administrators and Board of Education members have taken note. According to Superintendent David Title, who spoke at the last Board of Education meeting, the selection of CPM "is not a done deal. We are committed to evaluating all available curriculums." Title also noted that the textbooks under consideration for secondary math classes will be made available for public review and feedback before a new curriculum and textbook is adopted in April.
As parents, we appreciate that the district is providing the public "unprecedented access" to the textbooks under consideration and is requesting feedback on the textbooks and curriculum. CPM was selected by our district last spring, in part because it was one of the first textbooks to align with the common core standards.
As we approach the adoption of a secondary math textbook, our district should look to how surrounding top-performing districts are proceeding in their adoption of materials for the common core. Since the curriculum-review process takes place once every five or six years, our district needs to be prudent with its selection. In fact, many of our neighboring districts are waiting until more publishers roll out revised textbooks. Our district should not rush into the purchase of a textbook, without reviewing other updated texts. That being stated, the change needs to be in a metered and thoughtful manner, rather than trying to meet a self-imposed time line.
If the district adopts CPM as its textbook and curriculum, we are committing to purchasing the CPM textbooks for all middle and high school math classes. An extrapolation of the Algebra I cost to the remaining math courses is estimated between $350,000 and $500,000. This cost does not include a significant amount of professional development that is needed for CPM's new teaching methodology in the classroom. Nor does this include the math manipulative materials needed for the CPM program.
The community appreciates the districts' steps in developing an open and transparent process. We hope that the process remains transparent, open and most of all objective in its evaluation and selection of a textbook and curriculum. Time will tell if the school department's central office is truly willing to work in partnership with parents or is just stating what they think the community wants to hear.