If you are a Fairfield parent or taxpayer, now is the time to start paying sharp attention to the direction our school administration is taking our children’s math curriculum (K through 12) and our town’s budget.
A new controversial math program being rolled out in our middle and high schools is failing our students and will cost our community between an estimated $350,000-$500,000 if approved by the Board of Education in a few short months. Frustrated parents have formed a group, Fairfield Math Advocates, to push the school district to disband the use of the contentious textbook, called CPM, at the center of parents’ concerns.
Thankfully, Fairfield’s school administrators and Board of Education members have taken note. According to Superintendent Dr. David Title, who spoke at the Jan. 15 Board of Education Meeting, the selection of CPM “is not a done deal. We are committed to evaluating all available curriculums.” Dr. Title also noted that the textbooks under consideration for secondary math classes will be made available for public review and feedback before a new curriculum and textbook is adopted in April.
As parents, we appreciate that the district is providing the public “unprecedented access” to the textbooks under consideration and is requesting feedback on the textbooks and curriculum from the community. CPM was selected by our district in the spring of last year in part because it was one of the first textbooks to align with the Common Core Standards.
As we approach the adoption of a secondary math textbook, our district should look to how surrounding top-performing districts are proceeding in their adoption to the Common Core. Since the curriculum review process takes place once every five or six years, our district needs to be prudent with its selection. In fact, many of our neighboring districts are waiting until more publishers roll out revised textbooks.
Our district should not rush into the purchase of a textbook, without reviewing updated textbooks that align with the Common Core. That being stated, the change needs to be in a metered and thoughtful manner, rather than trying to meet a self-imposed time line.
If the district adopts CPM as their textbook and curriculum, we are committing to purchasing the CPM textbooks for all middle and high school math classes. An extrapolation of the Algebra I cost to the remaining math courses is estimated between $350,000-$500,000. This cost does not include a significant amount of professional development by the publisher that is needed for CPM’s new teaching methodology in the classroom. Nor does this include the math manipulative materials needed for the CPM program.
The community appreciates the district's steps in developing an open and transparent process. We hope that the process remains transparent, open and most of all objective in its evaluation and selection of a textbook and curriculum. Time will tell if Central Office is truly willing to work in partnership with parents or is just stating what they think the community wants to hear.