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Have faith in professionals
As a teacher and member of the Federal Way school districts Math Adoption Committee, I was one of many individuals who spent nearly a year researching, evaluating and ultimately selecting a comprehensive math curriculum that emphasized both computation and problem-solving skills for the K-5 students in our district. The curriculum chosen was Scott-Foresman/Addison Wesley supplemented with Math Investigations. Scott-Foresman/Addison Wesley is a traditional, computation-based curriculum, while Investigations focuses more on math exploration and problem solving strategies and practices.
My experience while on the committee was that the process was positive, focused and agenda-free. However, after attending the May 27 School Board meeting, I found myself with feelings of dismay and disgust at the way certain community members chose to paint the committee and its leadership, the process and the selected curriculum overwhelmingly chosen by those on the committee.
It is unfortunate that there are individuals who imply that teachers on the committee had an agenda against traditional math instruction, when it appeared that certain community members on the committee definitely had agendas of their own. This was apparent when these individuals limited their participation in the process and often turned a deaf ear to opposing viewpoints. Furthermore, when a community member stands up at a board meeting and states that the board should adopt this curriculum (one he so eloquently denounced) so that teachers cant blame poor curricula on declining test scores is the exact attitude we do not need in public education. Depending solely on a set math curriculum for academic success is like saying professional basketball players cannot accomplish success without a particular brand of basketball, or an artist cannot effectively paint a canvas unless he or she has the precise horsehair count in his or her brush. That attitude is demeaning to the profession of education and does nothing to bridge the vital relationship between school and community.
So, in defense of the committee and its hard work, I commend the leadership, the teachers and community members who spent so much of their time accomplishing the goal: To find the best math curriculum for the children of Federal Way.
Even if you do not agree with the choice to adopt this curriculum, please have some faith in the professionals who are in the classrooms every day, working with your children. Opinions may vary in dramatic ways, but our focus should always stay the same.
Neal A. Pollock