Letters to the Editor

Go ahead and 'undermine'

This is in response to Sharon Kiyohara’s letter (March 1, “Parents must be partners”) about Lloyd Gardner and the Federal Way Public Schools elementary math textbook selection committee. I am also a member of this committee and have known Lloyd for 10 years and have a little different perspective.

This committee consists of 23 elementary school teachers, six junior high teachers and six community members. One thing you should know, Mrs. Kiyohara: Only the community members are spending their own time on this committee. All of the teachers are being paid over $20 an hour to be there, and yet the meeting is scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. –– a time convenient only for teachers. I protested to the facilitator, the administration and the School Board that this time only worked for people who finished work by 4 p.m. and most people don’t, including me. The board agreed with me, but I don’t think they wanted to appear to be micro-managing the administration.

Anyone who has been to Lloyd Gardner’s house would know it resembles a central repository for many of the textbooks published for math and reading. Lloyd has been involved in researching educational topics for all the years I have known him. When he has information that would be useful to a group and wants to present it, I don’t call that trying to “undermine this group.”

I was at the meeting where Lloyd tried, as you suggested, Mrs. Kiyohara, an in-person presentation. Several on the committee said they didn’t need outside sources to help pick a textbook, and the matter was dropped. Lloyd has continued to try to get the committee to at least explore some of the work done by others by sending e-mail through the district.

Lloyd has been attending School Board meetings on a regular basis for years, and there is probably no one who is outside the Federal Way school system who knows more about what is going on in this district than Lloyd. He brought to my attention that the current board proclaimed that our students should be well-grounded in basic computational skills. I have not seen, nor am I aware of, a memorandum to the committee that they should be looking for textbooks with this theme. This proclamation was passed 5-0 by the board. I would think every school teacher in Federal Way would know about this, yet a kindergarten teacher on this committee didn’t see anything wrong with using calculators with the students.

Several years ago, the reading program in Federal Way had pretty much eliminated any trace of phonics. Using only the whole-language approach left too many of our children unable to decipher words they had never seen. It was only after a constant barrage by Lloyd at every board meeting that a previous board finally brought phonics back to the classroom.

If Lloyd is trying to undermine our educational system, we need more people like him.

Steve Skipper

Federal Way

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