Monday, December 05, 2005

Portland School District about to make another huge mistake

Tonight there's a certain "action item" on the PPS board meeting agenda. (Action items are those things they expect to vote on with minimal (if any) discussion. The choo-choo is all the way down the track; the fix is in; it's a done deal. No community input wanted. )

Tonight's big mistake: the district is adopting a new high school math curriculum, known as "CPM" (College Preparatory Mathematics.)

This math curriculum and others like it have stirred hot controversy all over the nation whenever gullible school boards listened to their curriculum experts and took their recommendation to buy this faddish curriculum.

You've probably read about this kind of math before. Called "fuzzy math" or "constructivist math" or "reform math," it's based on theories about how kids learn that emanate from those bastions of banality, the colleges of education. They hate any kind of drill or practice of math computation, and especially disdain memorization and application of formulas. They love cooperative group projects, posters and calculators.

These programs have a miserable track record, but the people who push them don't care, because they truly don't believe in empirical measures of achievement such as tests. Of course, the position that tests don't reveal true learning is a very convenient belief when you are in love with math programs that have a crappy track record in raising test scores.

I got a call from an acquaintance today who wanted me to help her derail this train by talking sense into the school board. I laughed. I've seen this movie so many times, in so many places. The educrats don't care whether parents want this type of program or not - they think parents are just an obstacle to be avoided. This decision was made long ago - and the whole process of textbook adoption was a charade.

So they will make their unanimous decision tonight, and the Portland School District will be one step closer to imploding. Anybody who thought that Vicki Phillips would stop the district from making self-destructive decisions were thinking wishfully. Sometimes I just wish they would hurry up the inevitable.


Anonymous said...


You probably shouldn't have laughed at your friend. Nor declined. Why not speak at the board meeting and predict the outcome of their decision? In the long run you will be right and be able to point out that you publicly warned them? Helps build your image.

Anonymous said...

This is like forcing The People to hand out OLCC Gift Certificates outside AL-ANON meetings all over town for Holiday presents to the less-fortunate-than-average.

The practice of educrat politics is so destrutive to our community ... and especially cynical when done in the name of "the children."

Don't get caught standing around gawking near this track. Trainwrecks are gruesome & ghastly; nondiscriminatory when it comes to collateral damage.


Rob Kremer said...

Well, I didn't laugh at my friend, I laughed at the prospect of trying to convince the PPS board to ignore the recommendation of their philosopher/sage/bureaucrats.

Why not testify so I could say "I told you so" a few years later? Not a good use of time.

The Oregonian article that ran today about the adoption was great. It's amazing how the O reporters accept what they are told by educrats with total credulity. They NEVER bother to look into an issue and ask a penetrating question.

The claim was made that the CMP program would help kids who were struggling with Algebra understand the subject. Any evidence of that? Any mention of the dozens of places where this and similar programs were foisted on parents against their screaming protests?

Not a whisper.

Anonymous said...

Rob, your profile states that your career is education. If you feel so strongly about this issue and are knowledgeable about the subject (meaning you can present case studies or examples of where it has been implemented and failed), then I highly encourage you to speak out at the board meeting. You obviously care enough to look at the agenda ahead of time and can do something about it. At least they would see that someone is paying attention and holding them accountable. Regardless of whether you've "seen this train wreck before," you have created a responsiblity for yourself to our community and to our children. Writing about it on your blog might encourage someone else to speak out, which I applaud, but you are clearly one who could make an impression. Why not see what happens?