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Letter: Schools skip own advice on math plan

Published 10:30 am, Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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By the end of this week, I will have attended two school-themed meetings with my children, both focused on planning the near future.

The first meeting, Course Selection Information Night, focused on planning and selection of my older daughter's courses next year, when she will be a senior at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. During the meeting, the point was made many times that course selection (no matter the grade) is an important process that should be made with both care and forethought. There is a wide range of courses to consider, so it's an exciting but sometimes difficult decision to make in a short period of time -- the deadline is only 30 days after the meeting. Presumably, we were called to the school auditorium for a "heads up" to choose neither with haste nor impulse.

The second meeting I will attend is Eighth Grade Night, geared to prepare the incoming freshman class (of which my younger daughter is one) and "Future Falcon Parents" of how to plan the smoothest transition possible from middle to high school. Having gone through this three years ago for my eldest, I know what to expect and will most likely be somewhat less overwhelmed by the leap from the coddling arms of Tomlinson into a vast and independent future that includes such dramatic decisions as "should I choose orchestra or lunch?" Still, I appreciate that the school provides this orientation as a GPS to guide our children as they advance to high school. Like the course selection evening, it demonstrates the importance of planning, thinking ahead, and collaborating with your parents and educators. In the parlance of school: do your homework before making big decisions that can impact your future.

Which is why I'm both surprised and disappointed to hear that the Board of Education is piloting a new math program without doing its own homework. Since I have an eighth grader on whom this new math is being tested, I know for a fact that not only were we not consulted about the program and text change, but the shift was made suddenly, almost furtively, without a great deal of research and scrutiny. In other words, the BOE is contradicting all of the great advice we've been given at these school meetings this month. By not planning, thinking ahead, or collaborating with the students and parents, they obviously have not done their homework. As a parent who has watched her child struggle with a new program being hastily put into place as a "pilot," I think our educators and administration in Fairfield need to walk the talk they've been giving in their own school auditoriums for so many parent nights over the years. Which is: identify your options, research and assess these with care and conversation, line up the pros and cons of each option, collaborate with advisors and experts, look into outcome/results in prior situations, and make your decision wisely.

Like, do your homework!

Laura Becker Lawlor

Southport