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?

53 comments:

  1. Janet Nicholas (former member of the California State Board of Education) posted this comment on my Facebook page:

    "I have read the parents/home schoolers edition of Singapore Math, K-6. In this edition, every issue is fully explained and developed. The average teacher can easily teach from these materials. The tragedy is that more schools do not use them."

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  2. Hummmmm I find this post quite interesting. I am a CA mom to four in the public school system and detest not only what is currently taught in our classroom "CA Math" http://www.macmillanmh.com/math/2009/ca/ but also how it is taught. I have two kids that "get math naturally" and they hate the math at their school. My other two are okay at math but not because of what they do in school but rather was is done at home. We have opted to supplement at home with a mix of Singapore and Kumon (which is similar in approach but more of math enrichment). Our school district spent a fortune on switching over to this new system. Parents hate it....teachers complain about it...so who the heck is behind it? Math in the US is way off par with the rest of the world...Thank god at least I have a clue and can supplement what is missing in my Math (and other areas) kids education. But what about those parents who do not know enough to know better?

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  3. Hi Dawn,

    Would you like to try out some of the questions in www.lionmath.com/forum ? I hope it would be useful. In general the texbooks and the workbooks are just baseline work in the Primary Schools in Singapore.

    Singapore Math in my opinion is "old school" Math. Teachers need to be good in it and love teaching it. No magic formula.

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  4. Don't forget the National Council on Teacher Quality has recommended states look to Singapore Math as a standardized curriculum when writing their Race to the Top applications. You can read those recommendations at their website: NCTQ and here's a direct link to the Colorado report.

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  5. "But parents, taxpayers, and community members have a right to ask: Why not the best for our children?"

    EXACTLY!! Having been through many curriculum adoptions, teachers of the district were probably given very limited information on the programs available. Districts like to go with publishers that are large enough to throw in all of the bells and whistles with the program. Large market shares get even larger...

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  6. Check out what's going on in Seattle regarding math textbook adoption.

    http://seattlemathgroup.blogspot.com/2010/02/looking-at-decision.html

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  7. I find this very interesting. Teachers are not probably updated with the entire new curriculum that is why they have limited knowledge.

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  8. oh..i thought this is only happening in 3rd world countries...this is happening despite all the advancement in information technology, diskettes are so hisotoric already, blueray discs or bd-r is today

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  9. Singapore math (and science, and health) are excellent programs. I used them for my children when we lived in ridiculously small town (500 students total - one K-12 school) and homeschooled.

    I'm a certified teacher (English, History, Library Media Spec), and if you think the new national standards are bad, you should see what the senators in FL are trying to do to teachers. For starters, they want to base 1/2 of our salary on student test performance.

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  10. Singapore is an intelligent country and it has lots of policies in education that helped students to be really good in Math. They even teach young students on how to videos.

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  11. Hi,
    I completely agree with you that no one can compete with the students of Singapore in mathematics. I hope our children can also get same type of education.

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  12. very interesting. my professor, david swensen, said the same thing. nice

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  13. Mr. Evers- you were never on the official committee, in fact if your wife Anna Bryson was not on the board you would never have been in San Juan Capistrano.

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  20. Mr. Evers is married to the school board president in Capistrano Unified School District. She is running again and one of her pledges has been to end nepotism in CUSD. Mr. Evers needs to sell his Math series somewhere else in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. There are many excellent Math programs out there.

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