Tragedy in Seattle

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Tonight the Seattle School Board finally voted on the acquisition of high school math textbooks, and the results were both disappointing and tragic. In a four to three vote they agreed to adopt the Discovering Math series...extremely weak discovery/fuzzy math textbooks. Found to be "unsound" by a panel of mathematicians hired by the State Board of Education, the books are obviously deficient to anyone who knows about mathematics. What really is upsetting is that that the Seattle School District has now picked poor math curricula three times...since they selected very weak math books at the elementary (Everyday Math) and middle schools levels (CPM math). The trifecta of ineffective math books.
The bottom line of all this is that it will be virtually impossible for students in the State's largest school district to get a decent education in math. This has not been a successful district...with their students' math performance lagging seriously... and they have now sealed the academic fates of students over the next decade or so (the last time they acquired new high school math textbooks was over a decade ago).

Since math is so important for a student's success in college and in the jobs of the future, this is a terrible setback for thousands of children and their parents. Tutoring companies will enjoy a bonanza as will private schools. Who could voluntarily send their children to such a district, knowing that they will be unprepared for the high-tech world of the future?

It was gratifying that three of the board members saw the problem and voted against Discovering Math (Michael DeBell, Harium Martin-Morris, and Mary Bass). Michael DeBell was particularly impressive and thoughtful. The board members supporting Discovering math claimed they were powerless to oppose the curriculum since the proper process was followed. It was painful to watch an obviously failing school district and the inability of the majority of the board to see beyond process to the desperate needs of the district's students.. The only hope on the horizon is that many neighboring districts are not making the same mistake and eventually their success will be such an embarrassment to Seattle that it will have to dump--at great expense---these turkey textbooks. A real tragedy.

It is also time for the community to work to replace several of the hapless Board members, who admittedly ignored a huge number of calls and emails on this issue. Of particular note was Cheryl Chow, whose embarrassingly long, rambling speech was both inappropriate and off-topic at the same time. We need better people than this to run the school district of our state's largest city.

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