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School Board math vote tonight; local schools lobbying for "Singapore Math ...

Update: School Board math vote tonight; local schools lobbying for ‘Singapore Math’ – board approves it for all

June 4, 2014 at 9:31 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 21 Comments

(UPDATED Wednesday night with board vote)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 9:31 AM: Tonight the Seattle Public Schools board is scheduled to vote on which math curriculum it will use for the next seven years. The recommendation before the board is to go with a curriculum called enVision, instead of the current Everyday Math. At least two West Seattle elementaries that have obtained a waiver to adopt an alternative for recent years – Math In Focus, also known as “Singapore Math” – are calling for last-minute shows of support to be able to keep it. Schmitz Park Elementary, in particular, has been hailed for its success following its fight to adopt Singapore Math; on its website, there is a call for families to contact the board before tonight’s meeting – read it here. K-5 STEM has a similar call on its website. As pointed out there, West Seattle’s school board member Marty McLaren is one of two board members proposing an amendment for the district to offer two alternatives, with one of them being the Math In Focus (Singapore Math) curriculum, so that they could make the choice. The agenda for tonight’s meeting is here; if you are interested in voicing an opinion to the board, e-mail and phone information is on the right side of its official webpage.

10:08 PM: As reported in the comments, board members didn’t vote for a dual adoption – they voted to adopt Singapore Math for the entire district:



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  1. I know that the SPS Math Selection Committee members put in long hours and that this was a very thoughtful process. Members of the committee included Teachers and Principals. I have a lot of confidence in their choice of enVision.

    There has been NO equity in math curriculums in the WS schools and probably across the city. If you were at school that could not afford to spend thousands of dollars to buy your own math curriculum, then you were strapped with Everyday Math.

    Comment by AHMom — 10:29 am June 4, 2014 #

  2. As long as they stay away from the “common core” math cirriculum.

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 10:53 am June 4, 2014 #

  3. AHMom: You’re absolutely right re: equity. Our K5STEM PTA was amazing in their funding of Singapore for our school, but others aren’t so lucky. EVERY child deserves a math curriculum as strong as Singapore Math (Math In Focus), and every teacher deserves the opportunity to use such a powerful tool. Which is why we’re pulling for dual adoption or, better yet, single adoption of Math In Focus.

    Which also brings us to Ex-Westwood’s comment re: Common Floor-aligned curricula. EnVision is published by Pearson, the same folks who wrote the CCSS and who are writing the high-stakes end-of-year tests. We must not allow our schools and our students to be used as pawns in the multi-billion-dollar scam that Pearson (along with the Dept. of Ed, Gates, and the rest of the Ed Reform circus) has set up to funnel state taxpayer dollars into private corporate coffers. This has been building for decades, and now those at the top have become downright brazen in their malfeasance. As with so many SPS decisions, this comes down to whose pockets are getting lined, not what is best for our students.

    We need to take back our schools. We need to send a shot across the bow of the Ed Reform juggernaut and let them know that we’re no longer willing to sit back and let them get rich at the expense of our students, our teachers, and our communities.

    Comment by Mr. Gluck — 11:34 am June 4, 2014 #

  4. Mr. Gluck, you are very fortunate to be at school where a PTA can fund the curriculum. Maybe there will be a waiver for Math in Focus.

    I personally know two people on the selection committee and one of those people was on the selection committee for another district several years ago. I have a tremendous amount of professional respect for these individuals and know how much time they spent on this process. I have 100% confidence in their decision.

    Lake WA school district uses in enVision as well as Lowell and the Principal is hoping that it will carry on to FP.

    Comment by AHMom — 12:14 pm June 4, 2014 #

  5. In order to get a good firm foundation in math, one needs to learn standard algorithms and get substantial drill and practice. Calculators should be banned until HS or College The previous discovery or reform math violated all of those rules.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 2:00 pm June 4, 2014 #

  6. I don’t want a waiver for my kids at my school. I don’t want to pay for better math. I want all kids to have a math program that was not picked because it is more aligned with common core. I want a math program that helps those students succeed in math who have not. I want a math program that allows for mastery. I want every kid to have the outcomes that we’ve seen at STEM. I want kids to like math – LOVE math.

    I respect the selection committee (and know some of them also personally), but when people on the committee are saying the process from the start was flawed (ie: pick the program most aligned with common core) then I have to ask: why would we allow an average program when we could demand a GREAT program?

    Envision is better than Everyday Math. That is just not good enough. Not for my kids. Not for ALL kids.

    Comment by mama4 — 2:55 pm June 4, 2014 #

  7. It is clear from committee members that the most important criterion in this process was alignment with Common Core. Criteria that would be more important to parents/teachers/students, such as quality and rigor, were deemed less important in the selection process. Unfortunately, the charge to the committee was flawed. Thus, bad inputs are producing bad outputs.

    EnVision may work well for very verbal students who speak English as their first language. It appears to be a poor curriculum for English Language Learners. It may also be ill suited to visual learners.

    Singapore Math has been tried and tested in numerous schools internationally. Its results are outstanding. I am amazed at our daughter’s math prowess in kindergarten. It far exceeds what I did as a second grader. Seattle Public Schools need to have the option of choosing Singapore Math.

    Comment by Susan — 4:22 pm June 4, 2014 #

  8. Singapore math for all! We shouldn’t have to get a waiver for a good math program.

    But don’t worry, the school board will screw the pooch as usual.

    Comment by fj — 4:38 pm June 4, 2014 #

  9. many of our kids already attend schools with buildings that make some third world school houses look like palaces. How is it that we aren’t funding solid math programs, equally, city wide? What a messed up system we have.

    Comment by Zain Bluepuss — 5:11 pm June 4, 2014 #

  10. Board is now talking about a single adoption of just math in focus. Tracy – I’ll shoot you an email when they vote.

    I’m really proud of director McLauren – she is taking a stand for all kids.

    Comment by Mama4 — 7:00 pm June 4, 2014 #

  11. I wish this much attention went into reading, vocabulary and writing. I was lucky enough to have students go through Singapore math program at Schmitz Park and supplemented at home. They both advanced through math in high school (taking UW Calc at high school) finishing Stats before college. So now in college they technically do not need any more math. But they continue to read and write A LOT but this subject was not as big of a focus in elementary or middle school I wish PTSA’s worked on improving programs in all subjects for all SPS schools to me it seems we are so focused on math and science.

    Comment by Eats, Shoots Leaves — 7:33 pm June 4, 2014 #

  12. At 8:15 tonight, the Board voted 4-3 to implement Math In Focus, i.e., Singapore Math, district-wide. Thank you STEM and Schmitz Park for helping make the case for better math district-wide.

    Comment by pjmanley — 8:23 pm June 4, 2014 #

  13. wow! thanks for the updates.

    Comment by WSB — 8:38 pm June 4, 2014 #

  14. Yes!!!!! Praising our board members who listened to our concerns. Thank you director McLaren for hearing our thoughts. Our goal is better schools for all students in SPS. This is a step in that direction.

    Comment by happymom — 8:48 pm June 4, 2014 #

  15. Thank you Dir. McLaren and the amazing advocates from Schmitz Park that worked in tandem with us to support Singapore Math for ALL kids in Seattle. We could not be more thrilled!

    Comment by STEMama — 8:56 pm June 4, 2014 #

  16. yes! thank you to all the folks out there tirelessly working towards bettering our schools. hooooraaaaay!

    Comment by fj — 9:08 pm June 4, 2014 #

  17. Yay, a huge win for all SPS kids. Thank you Ms. McLaren and the school boards.

    Comment by Ws mom — 9:24 pm June 4, 2014 #

  18. Congrats to Dir. McLaren and Dir. Peters –

    Courageous work in the face of extreme pushback.

    Also BIG congrats to many of our neighbors fr. Schmitz Park and K5 STEM who gave powerful testimony backed up by data. Now all kids in SPS have a chance to learn clear successful math – single biggest issue on the achievement gap.


    Comment by Leslie — 9:51 pm June 4, 2014 #

  19. Also want to thank Kathleen Voss at K5STEM. I didn’t believe this would ever happen, but she is a community mom who worked tirelessly towards the goal of bringing quality math to all SPS kids. It is amazing the difference just one person can make. I’m certain you played a key role in informing Marty’s platform….and thanks to you, too, Marty McLaren! We are proud of you.

    Comment by evergreen — 10:59 pm June 4, 2014 #

  20. For those of us still counting with our fingers, what in the world is Singapore math?

    Comment by 2+2=5 — 12:09 am June 5, 2014 #

  21. I can understand how the MAC might be upset. They followed the process set out by the district perfectly. But what do you do when you find that the process itself was gravely flawed? This lies on the district, not the MAC. With their misguided focus on strict alignment to CCSS, by setting up a flawed community input process that they could then wholly dismiss, and insisting on making cost a factor when they were mandated not to, the district set up the MAC to achieve the results that they did. The MAC did their job and the adoption of Math in Focus should not be seen as an invalidation of their work.


    Susan, you were spot on — bad inputs=bad outputs.


    It should not have fallen the the School Board members and the community at large to expose this flawed process. It also should not have taken the Board and the community to do the benchmarking data and ELL research. But it did and the Board acted accordingly.


    A sincere thank you to Marty McLaren for valuing the input of the community and demanding more for all of our students.


    Singapore for all! It is truly a great day!

    Comment by StringCheese — 12:10 am June 5, 2014 #

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