Sunday, January 10, 2010

Union Attacks Bill Evers for Encouraging "Best-in-the-World" Math

The teachers' union in Capistrano Unified attacks me for encouraging the district to consider Singapore Math instead of a business-as-usual math textbook series.

The attack appears in the union's Jan. 8 Board Watch newsletter.

At the time I made the suggestion, I was an official member of the district's textbook review committee. I stressed that successful implementation of Singapore math in America has needed extra training for teachers, and that such training would be needed if Capistrano were to adopt Singapore Math (which is officially approved in California).

I cited Singapore's comparative success on international math tests. I also pointed to the U.S. Department of Education-sponsored study entitled "What the United States Can Learn from Singapore's World Class Mathematics System."

The union calls for automatic rubber-stamping of teachers' recommendations. It attacks me for favoring parental input on textbook adoptions.

I agree that teachers' recommendations should weigh heavily, especially if the textbook has been tried. (The Capistrano teacher committee had declined even to try out Singapore Math.) But I contend that objective, scientific studies of content-coverage and effectiveness as well as international comparative testing should be given their due weight.

Singapore students in 4th and 8th grade were best in the world in Mathematics in 1995, 1999 and 2003.

I pointed out that a school nearby in Los Angeles has had great success with Singapore Math.

I'm sure that the Capistrano teachers want textbooks that they believe will work for them and that have a familiar feel. But parents, taxpayers, and community members have a right to ask: Why not the best for our children?