Parents Speak Out Against Brighton Schools' New Math Curriculum
Everyday Math is a popular program used by some of the highest performing districts in the state, district says.
Brighton Area Schools is purchasing its first new math curriculum since 1998 and some district parents are not pleased with its choice in programs.
Last month, board members unanimously adopted Everyday Math as its new program for students in kindergarten through sixth grades.
Janice Karlovich Foster, a district parent who addressed board members during a meeting Monday night, said the new program focuses too heavily on teaching tidbits and then revisiting them on a later date - something called spiraling - and not on mastering mathematics.
Originally, the Fosters were asked by district administration to be part of the committee to review new math curriculum, and recently discovered that it had already by chosen and approved by board members without any input from them.
"My main focus tonight was that the community really should have been involved in this decision, not to argue the pros and cons of the program," Janice Foster said. "Such a decision should not have been rushed through at the end of the school year with little to no community input."
The Fosters have two children in Brighton schools and said they have spent the past two years teaching their children math after school in an effort to fill in gaps left by the curriculum.
"Our kids' experiences in the mathematics program has not been particularly good," Foster's husband, Kenneth Foster said. "Some kids like mine are going to survive because I'm going to teach them, my wife is going to teach them, we'll correct these gaps in their education that they're having. But I'm worried about all the other kids in the neighborhood - and it's a large fraction of them."
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Laura Surrey said
the top math acheiving districts in the state use Everyday Math curriculum.
Surrey said back in March when she first spoke with the Fosters, the district's plan was to wait a year before implementing a new math curriculum because of the common core standards set to be released next year.
Surrey said the current curriculum is fragmented with incomplete sets and nobody has materials that are needed - so they couldn't wait any longer.
"That's because for years, because of our budget problems, they kept cutting, slashing the curriculum budget and taking the money from there to fund other things," she said.
"Looking at test scores like Saline (who uses Everyday Math), we are better than them when it comes to reading and here we are, I don't know, 20 to 30 percentage points lower in math," she said. "There's no reason except we need to have a coherent curriculum and solid curriculum materials - it has to start with something."
Surrey also said she updated the community about the mathematics curriculum search through Superintendent Greg Gray's Friday Letters home to district parents.
The new curriculum will be in district buildings by Aug. 13, Surrey said.
"Truthfully, it's just a beginning - it's just materials," Surrey said. "Saline, Ann Arbor - all these districts that use Everyday Math - they make it their own. They say they're not going to use this component because it doesn't support the K-12 initiative in our district, and we'll be doing the very same thing. Everyday Math is not our curriculum, what we do with it will be our curriculum."