Note from Laurie Rogers: Reform math, excessive constructivism, and persistent administrative arrogance and interference are not exclusive to Washington State. Together, they have sunk this great country into a mathematical Dark Ages, severely limiting the futures of millions of children and devastating our supply of STEM professionals.
Every week, I receive emails from perplexed, frustrated and angry parents, teachers and community advocates in states across America. Here is one sample, provided by a Missouri parent Dec. 8, 2010, and republished here with her permission:
[From personal email, Dec. 8, 2010]:
"I think you will find it interesting that in my son's elementary school, the teachers are only allowed to teach reform curriculum Investigations in Number, Data, and Space....without any supplementation.
"When I found out that my son was sitting for 50 minutes per day during intervention time, allowed to draw, read any outside reading book, play games, or play on the computer -- I called the teacher and asked if I could send his math workbook from home that he worked in every night at home. I explained that it would be a much better use of his time during the day. I was told that I could.
"I sent the book, and quickly other parents were sending their children with the same books that were simply standard math practice with traditional algorithms. I was called to the principal's office. I was told that the book was not allowed. I was dumbfounded. My daughter, who was in that building the year before, had practiced in the same book the 2 years prior. She had the second highest score out of 400 of her peers on the math portion of the state standardized test.
"So, I clarified: 'You mean to tell me that my son can bring in a Stephen King novel, draw pictures, or play games, but you will not allow for him to better himself with math practice during math intervention?' I was told, 'That is true.' My husband and I walked out the door, and we decided to pull him out of that building that day.
"The crazy thing is that the 'games' were questions for no grade like, 'Write a chant or a song about a division problem.' Another was, 'If you met an alien who could not speak your language, draw portraits of what a multiplication problem will look like to them without using words.'
"INSANITY. Keep up the good work."
Stacy Shore, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
[Later, Stacy Shore added a side note.]
"The other very alarming element of what we have been through here as of late is what happened when one mom went in to ask for copies of the 'extension activities' (that involve the writing chants, and drawing portraits for aliens, to name just a few of the ridiculous 'activities' our kids are being forced to do). When asked if we can have copies of all activities being offered to our children, we were told that we can come in and look at them, but we cannot have copies to take outside of the school. Our kids do not bring home copies of this homework, and without a couple of us parents going in and reviewing the 'activity box,' no one would realize what our kids are being forced to do.
"Insanity. And, our children are absolutely NOT allowed to practice standard algorithms in their free time. When we realized what was going on in 'secret,' if you will, we pulled our kids and ran."
Note from Laurie Rogers: If you would like to submit a guest column on public education, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please limit columns to not more than 1,000 words. Columns might be edited for length, content or grammar. You may remain anonymous to the public, however I must know who you are. All decisions on guest columns are the sole right and responsibility of Laurie Rogers.