I attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting last week and found both sides of the math debate compelling. Teachers spoke to their experiences, parents and teachers commented on classroom observations and members of the community cited empirical data. One would think with so many people involved in the process, Fairfield would be ahead of the curve! But somewhere along the way, we have lost our bearings.
Immediately following the meeting, angry accusations began to fly. Someone berated a mom for clapping in support of her beliefs, and in all honesty we, (yes, myself included) should not have clapped. But let’s be fair; the Chairman of the BOE asked the teachers and administrators to stand for an ovation, and then later asked the opposition to hold their applause. If we are going to make educated decisions employing the strengths of our community, we need to stop arguing and start listening.
Whether one supports the math advocates group or not, one cannot dispute the positive effect they have had. Closed-door decision-making is now out in the open. Processes for evaluation, like the presentation given last night, allow the community to be as aware and involved as they should be. No matter what side of the debate one is on, this is a good thing.
Choosing a proper math curriculum and supporting text are crucial in creating forward-thinking and academically competitive children. We are now at the brink of an important, far-reaching decision, and partisanship is blinding the decision-makers. Let’s all step back for a moment.
The new K-2 curriculum as proposed is far better than this town has ever experienced. Period. Is there more room for change? Perhaps, but let’s not get mired down in the details and miss the opportunity for improvement. Will any text we are reviewing function within this framework? Yes. Is any text perfect? No. We all agree so let’s move forward.
The textbooks we have been using as resources are sorely outdated and marginal at best. Lots of studies have supported this statement and as far as I can tell, no one is disputing this point. So, why are we continuing with an unacceptable text? Indecision. As we all know, indecision is still a decision. Children will suffer while we wait.
What can we do? I have my own ideas and have expressed them freely. Yes, I am a Singapore Math supporter, and have done my homework. But this letter is not intended to convince or persuade anyone to share my views, rather to stop bashing the community for having beliefs that do not match those of the administration. Do your own research, formulate your own conclusions, but please stop posting angry responses with the sole intent of shutting people down. The people of Fairfield are better than that.