Reminder that this evening’s Prince William County School Board meeting will vote to suspend the further implementation of “Math Investigations” into next year’s 5th Grade classrooms.

33 Thoughts to “Prince William County School Board”

  1. Princess Billy-Bob

    Powerful words. I have always had great respect for Don Richardson. I have found him to be thorough and thoughtful. He wants to help run a good county school system. He doesn’t always say what people want to hear, which I believe is the problem many parents are having.

    I would hope listeners picked up on the behavior going on in the back of the room. I was not at this meeting but it is my understanding that people walked out on Mr. Lattin while he was speaking. How rude! I could hear the calling out on the video. The last speaker was entirely too arrogant to even listen to. Being a member of the National Teachers of Mathematics means nothing other than interest. It bestows no special skills on anyone.

    Mr. Richardson spoke very seriously to those still there. I hope they listened. I expect the gentleman knows a thing or two about defamation.

  2. anon

    Yes and the Math Dept has asked teachers to ask parents to go speak in favor of Math Investigations. Shouldn’t that be unethical or at the very least a stupid idea? I told the teacher who approached me that there is no way I was going to speak in favor of it. Just because my daughter is doing fine doesn’t mean I think that type of math is serving her well. I thought she already knew I disliked it but I guess I never made it clear enough with her. I didn’t want to make a big stink at my school about it so I have just sent emails to the board so that my kids weren’t affected and we supplemented at home. Now I am furious that they have essentially campaigned to bring in the parents and kids into the fight, some of which may not have wanted to be involved.

    I didn’t have any trouble saying no because I have a good relationship with her teacher and she has A’s but what if that wasn’t the case? I think it is a little intimidating to have a teacher ask you to come speak to the board in favor of a program you disagree with. What if parents thought there might be revenge on their child for not speaking? Why is the Math Department doing this? It borders on creepy.

    I think the school board should nip this in the bud and tell the Math Department to fight their own battles and stop torturing parents and teachers into fighting it for them.

  3. Princess Billy-bob

    An individual teacher is not THE math department. When the teacher starts teaching reading does she become THE reading department? How nice of her to include you.

    It is perfectly acceptable for teachers to invite parents to come speak for something their child is successful in. If they didn’t, then they would be criticized for leaving parents out.

    Looks like a no win-situation for anyone. Parents, in the eyes of the school board, your child is one of many’ about 74,000 many as a matter of fact. They have to see the big picture, the forest. Parents, on the other hand, look at their own little trees. Everyone is doing what they should be doing but sometimes that creates a huge disagreement.

  4. Sceptical

    The only reason we walked out, and I was there, is Mr Lattin stated that all those opposed to MI do what Mr Barlow says.
    He said Mr Barlow was going outside to tell us what to say; he was actually saying goodnight to his children.
    Mr Lattin and Mr Richardson are representing the school system and are not interested in what the electorate wants.
    They were rude, offensive and completely closed-minded.

    We have to constantly say what we want because they and the math department keep constantly mis-stating what we want.

    Group discovery does not work in math; we want direct instruction and we want the standard algorithms to be taught and practiced. Other strategies are good short cuts or help explain the standard ways but MI deliberately avoids the standards and does not practice enough to master anything.

    Watch the board meeting tonight and figure out for yourself who has politics in mind and who has the future of their children in mind.

  5. Princess Billy-Bob

    sceptical, I have watched the school board for many years. I know Mr. Lattin and Mr. Richardson have the interest of the children of Pr. Wm. in mind.

    Do you think walking out was the most mature or most polite way to respond to something you don’t like being said? Is cat calling from the back of the room or shouting out at someone the best way to handle something? It wasn’t just one rogue parent. You have to realize that the school board decided to go with MI, rightly or wrongly, several years ago, and yet the issue keeps coming up. To the casual observer, it is beginning to sound like a broken record.

    Do you think that school board members should always give in to what part of an electorate wants or do you think that they should keep ‘best practices’ in mind when making decisions for the county? Do you think they should look at one grade level or all grade levels when making decisions that affect county students.

    I am very opposed to curriculum matters becoming political. It is a mighty foolish sword to fall on because the children will become the losers. Somewhere out there there are lots of little kids thinking it is ok to be stupid in math because Mommy or Daddy don’t like the math book (teacher) (curriculum). Pick a word. Too many people already have no shame saying, “I was never good in math.” “Or I never could grasp long division.” How many of those same people would be mortified to say they had no idea how to read or write?

  6. Alanna

    Princess B-B,
    Are we watching the same unedited video?

  7. Alanna

    Princess B-B,
    Are we watching the same unedited video?

  8. Alanna

    Princess B-B,
    Are we watching the same unedited video?

  9. Princess Billy-Bob

    Not all my information comes from the unedited video. I have spoken with people who were in attendance, although you can hear the calling out, you cannot see the walking out.

    Perhaps I am looking at all of this from a different vantage point.

  10. anon


    It was the Math Department bnot just the teachers because she came right out and told me that she had been asked by the Math Dept. to get parents to speak in favor of the program. So she asked me since my daughter has an A in Math and I’ve been involved with other Math related activities at the school. In fact she asked me to reach out to the other parents who had been involved in our Math club last year to see if they would come because the “Math Department wanted several parents to come”. She had no reason to blame it on the Math Dept if it was her by herself asking parents.

    She would not have done this unless she was pushed by the Math Department and I can’t see why she would lie to me that it was coming from the Math Department if it was her own idea.

  11. anon

    “Do you think that school board members should always give in to what part of an electorate wants or do you think that they should keep ‘best practices’ in mind when making decisions for the county? ”

    Princess Billy Bob: does this also hold true for when the teacher’s union approaches the board to change the calendar or concerning pay raises? Or in that case, it is ok to give in to what the electorate wants? Should they keep “best practices” in mind with those decisions? If you think so, then I would agree with you.

  12. A PW County Resident

    I don’t have a direct interest in this but the two school board members sounded like they gave a bit of an arrogant reply and I know neither of them. They seem to equate an organized parent position with an organized teacher (by way of emails from county school staff) position. I thought that government employees have different rules about use of publicy funded resources like computers and email than the parent does. I thought that was the discussion raised by the first speaker.

    Perhaps they should also understand that public officials cannot sue for defamation like ordinary citizens since they have placed themselves in public view and can be criticized for their official actions. it is called the New York Times rule.

    But neither one of these people are in my district but I would hope that election day, people will remember their positions and they way that they treated the citizens of their district.

  13. Princess Billy-Bob

    A PW County Resident, I have found neither board member to be arrogant in the past over other matters. The video did not show past interactions nor what was really going on in the back of the room.
    Anon, you are listening to hearsay, the same as I am. I admit it. Now who is included in ‘the math department?’ That is the question I would be asking.
    For anyone to suggest that teachers cannot the email at school to discuss curriculum is absurd. Curriculum is not a political issue to teachers.
    I am totally disgusted with what I am hearing and reading, not here necessarily but as I go about the county and read other blogs.

  14. DB

    So let’s ask the question…what does PWC schools “do” with young students that do well with math concepts? Do they accelerate ALL of them? No. How many slots exist in each middle school for algebra instruction in 7th and 8th grade? Few. Are there enough? No. I only ask this because my daughter always kicked butt in the math SOLS during elem and mid school. Her COGAT score for math was in the high 90th percentile beginning in grade 3. Her SOL scores were always “advanced” thru out middle school. In fact her math score for 8th was a cool 600. However, thru out her middle school career there was often “limited space” in upper level math classes for non-signet students. My daughter was finally found eligible for Signet in Feb. of her 8th grade year. Now she is in HS, stuck in an “Advanced Alg 1” course with an A plus average. Her teacher even asked her “Why are you here?” His suggestion: I as a taxpayer should PAY money to PWC so that my daughter can enroll in online courses during the summer and take Geometry. I however would prefer that she follow Alg. I with Alg II online and leave Geometry to classroom instruction. But no. That is not possible. So I WILL pay for my daughter to advance in math thru my wallet. But when she kicks butt on the next SOL, who’s gonna pay me? PWCPS?

  15. Junkyard dog

    Greggie Weggie now is taking on the school board. It sounded like he was taking on the supervisor of math. Then he did a quick flip and went after some links he SAYS were on the PWCS.EDU website. Sounds to me like he was talking about his old war with the multicultural dept.

    Does Weggie think he is that omnipotent that he can take it all on? I guess he and the minions have been doing the FOIA thing to get everyone’s email. Just another jerk out hoping to change the world. Come on Weggie, let Obama do it for you.

  16. Sceptical

    Don’t forget that the unpleasantness and the walk out occurred around midnight.
    None of us were at our best.

    However, every time any of us speak, those two board members side with the math department. They don’t seem to take our concerns seriously.

    That Greg L and I agree on anything is noteworthy.

    And by the way, it is against the rules for any school official to urge support or opposition for anything before the board using school networks or communications (don’t have the exact wording before me).
    Why would the math dept be so against it? It would get us off their backs and it’s not the money.

  17. Princess Billy-Bob

    So are you guys were unpleasant and it is ok because of the hour, and Lattin and Richardson are still guilty of whatever you all are accusing them of? It was the same time for them also. Yet I see Mr. Richardson being defamed on another blog. They must be mighty dedicated board members to put up with that.

    Why do the math teachers care? Why does any teacher care about doing what they feel is in the best interest of all kids? Take a look at those you all are calling the math department. They are all seasoned teachers who see where students fall on their faces later in school. They have access to thousands of test results. They see the problems kids have no idea how to do. Lattin and Richardson both trust those in charge and feel their opinion counts for something other than politics.

    Sceptical, I fear you have misunderstood the internet policy regarding staff acceptable use. Step out of MI for a minute. Teachers approach the board all the time and they exchange information with their colleagues and supervisors all the time. They might share information on a new book to read to the class, they might want the school board to purchase the book. They cannot use the school network for actual political work. Curriculum should not be political.

    What’s going to happen when some set of parents wants to teach creationism instead of science? What’s going to happen when some group of parents want to teach some ethnocentristic version of social studies?

    And by the way, I have never seen MI taught or its text books so I am not supporting MI, I am defending a whole lot of other things that are very important to me.

  18. Sceptical

    I was excusing both sides for a certain amount of back and forth. However, Mr Lattin and Mr Richardson have never taken any notice of anything we have said and always side with the math dept.

    The blended approach hasn’t worked so far and is completely inconsistent across the county. It is not recommended by TERC and puts too much on to the teachers to mix the lessons.
    There’s no extra time in the lesson plans for choice so the teachers have to decided which lessons to take what’s given by the math dept and which to produce on their own.

    Blended is a word made up for the purpose of excusing what we are already doing. They “blend” to add in the standard algorithms and to teach the SOLs which MI doesn’t cover.
    Doesn’t make up for the lack of practice and that the kids are not efficient.

    If the SOLs were timed, they by in deeper trouble than they are already. As it took them so long to admit that anything was wrong at all, how can we trust them?

  19. Oh Please

    Sceptical–why on earth are you so focused on speed? The SOLs aren’t timed because being able to computations under the pressure of a time clock really doesn’t prove anything, does it now? When is the last time you had to do math with a gun to your head? How many engineers are expected to do calculations while their boss stands over their shoulder with a stopwatch? Speed and efficiency are overrated in their importance. Conceptualization and understanding are for more imperative.

    If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow – John Dewey

  20. Sceptical

    Efficiency is important. Your windows (or mac) system takes a long time to start up because it is inefficient and poorly executed.
    The GRE and SATs are timed. Those are the current excuse for bringing in this program.
    If it doesn’t produce kids who can reason and calculate with expediency, the results are going to seriously decline.
    Most of us have to work under time pressure and if part of your job involves calculating things, you need to be able to do that efficiently and accurately.

  21. Moon-howler

    So was a vote taken last night? What all happened? Or what was supposed to happen?

  22. Mom

    What happened, good question, I fell asleep watching the budget drivel. I suspect even they don’t know what happened given that they have the slightest conception of Robert’s Rules. Someone really needs to give them a cheat sheet and a course on the order in which motions are handled. For once I will give Ms. McGowan credit, she was right and they dismissed her advice. Back to the budget, Walts presented an executive summary last night that had some proposed cuts and projected numbers. Went looking for the actual budget document today, couldn’t find it, called the finance office to get a copy and was told NONE EXISTED.

    Perhaps my age is catching up with me or that last glass of scotch proved to be the tipping point, but don’t you need an actual proposed budget document in order to present an executive summary? Maybe some in Greece, NY could enlighten us as to how this works.

  23. Sceptical

    We were told by Ms Lucas that the 5th grade MI costs would be resolved through the budget. Don’t know what that means but they announced big cuts today; increased class sizes and frozen teacher salaries.

  24. Don Richardson

    I would like to let everyone know that my Town Hall meeting has been MOVED from next Tuesday to next THURSDAY, still at 7 PM and still in the Drama Room at Battlefield HS. I am sorry if this inconveniences anyone, but the School Board scheduled a Math Investigations work session for Tuesday night, and I owe it to my colleagues and the public to be there to listen to what everyone has to say firsthand. Unfortunately, the publicity about my meeting had already gone out before the work session was put on the schedule. The work session is not televised and there is no Citizen Comment time, but it is open to the public and starts at 6 PM, in the meeting room at the Kelly Center.

    The good news is that on Thursday night I will be able to give you a summary of that work session and my best guess as to what is likely to happen next. Oh, and we might also talk about the budget…

    I do plan a longer post here in the near future but I wanted to get the word out quickly about the change of date of the Town Hall meeting. See you then.

  25. Anonymos

    What happened on the grade 5 issue was nothing. The issue was removed from the agenda about a week ago. Reportedly it has been placed in the budget discussion area.

    As for the events of January 21st, Mr Lattin and Mr Richardson have repeatedly accused the parents who are opposed to Investigations spreading misinformation, defaming county employees, and doing little more than echoing the words of their puppet master. Mr Lattin and Richardson have harassed the man they accused of being the puppet master repeatedly, the school system has defamed him in documents on the public web site and in emails distributed throughout the county. They, the school system and Mr Lattin and Richardson, have made the battle very much a personal fight against this one man.

    I’m not sure about anyone else, but I call that intimidation. I call that bullying. I call that unacceptable. And I do question whether Mr Richardson really does know what defamation is because he was defaming a private citizen in his comments.

    There is a reason I sign myself Anonymous – it has everything to do with how that one many has been singled out by the county and attacked.

  26. Sceptical

    But we are rising above that to do something about math. The rest of the board know that it’s not right and he is not telling us what to do so they will have to try and take us all on if that is their game.
    Let’s focus on the maths. Investigations is being dropped all over the country and the politics has to stop.
    We need to do what is right for the kids. The misinformation being spread about what we actually want is being challenged every time it is issued. They can’t counter the truth.

  27. Sceptical

    And as for blended; it’s no more blended than when it was first introduced.
    The only thing that changed is teachers are “allowed” to teach from their own material if they want. That’s not blended and TERC says blended is bad anyway.

  28. Steve Santee

    Oh Please,
    Sceptical is correct to be concerned about speed. In fact fluency (automatic recall or whatever politically correct term folks want to use for memorization) of basic math facts is one area that most everyone (NMP, NCTM, PWC staff) agrees is critical to an elementary education. The reason is that when you get to the next level of problems (double-digit addition for example), it’s critical that the basic math facts can come to you automatically to free up your conscious thoughts to the new material. If you have to count on your fingers or recite some poem to remember your basic sums, you’ll lose track of the bigger problem you’re tackling.

    Timed tests do prove something, they prove that you are fluent in your basic facts or whatever you are being tested on. And while no, I haven’t had to answer math questions with a gun literally held to my head, I do need to do math quickly in my head almost every day as an engineer. Perhaps it isn’t true of many other professions, but it isn’t at all uncommon to be in a meeting where you need to be able to follow calculations being presented or do them in your head quickly to meaningfully take part in the discussion.

    I believe our personal experiences with math are a large part of this debate. Many of those opposed to MI are in fields in which we use math extensively and highly value the ability to do it quickly and efficiently. For people whose math ability doesn’t as directly affect their lives and livelihood generally don’t put as high a premium on that knowledge.

  29. Moon-howler

    Thank you for your post, Mr. Richardson. We look forward to your return.

    Mr. Santee, I believe you are correct when you state that those who have careers that require math usage on a daily basis are those who are most concerned. However, the thought occurs to me that most people are not in engineering fields. Kids who are sharp in math master those kinds of rapid fire facts in a matter of days.

    I would hardly consider myself to be a math wiz and I think the multiplication tables maybe took a week or 2. There was nothing to understand. I learned them. Much later I understood that multiplication was ‘repeat addition.’ Maybe things would have gone better for me in math if I had learned that before the multiplication tables.

    I have lost track of the argument. Is the goal now to keep MI from being implemented in 5th grade?

  30. Elena

    Mr. Richardson,

    We appreciate your visit here. Thank you for posting this updated information. We will make sure to post this change in a more prominent place on the blog.

    I look forward to your next post here on anti! I think it would be important, to hear your perspective, on how the parents are perceiving the school boards response to their very serious concerns.

  31. Steve Santee

    My goal is to have PWC allow parents to choose a traditional math option for their children. I would like to see that for all grades (K-5), because the current program doesn’t come close to challenging my daughter to reach her full potential and I’d expect it is doing disservice to a majority of her classmates. The homework is trivial and doesn’t provide the necessary practice. (I’m assuming you don’t have children in K-4, if so, I’m likely preaching to the choir).

    The issue of whether to delay the implementation of MI in 5th grade came from an action item that was briefly on the school board agenda for last night’s (2/4/09) meeting. Chairman Johns had placed that item on the agenda but it was removed a few days later (well before the meeting) as it was expected to be covered in the budget discussion. I suspect that item was placed there since MI is not approved by the VA DOE for 5th grade due to its deficiencies in meeting the SOLs. PWC has planned to expand MI to 5th grade next year. I believe it is a question the school board should answer quickly because those materials likely will be ordered soon.

    Dr. Walts stated at one of the board meetings a few meetings ago, that money for those materials was part of the 08-09 budget (not next year’s budget that they’re just beginning to review) and in fact a percentage of those materials had already been purchased. Thus time is critical if the county is going to save some money by not buying textbooks that do such a poor job of meeting its intended goal. Since the money for those texts is not part of the current budget under discussion, I do not know why that item was moved under the discussion of the budget.

  32. Moon-howler

    Mr. Santee, Thank you for clarifying your group’s goals. You are correct, I do not have children in k-4. My kids are much older than that.

  33. Sceptical

    The agenda is up for the work session next week. Drop the board a line and let them know what you want..

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