Connected Mathematics (known as Connected Math) is Investigations middle school “cousin”, and, according to reports from Middle School teachers throughout the county, it’s coming to a middle school near you.
Middle school teachers have reported to us that they have been given full sets of the Connected Math teachers materials (which retail at $333.44 per set) and instructed by school officials in the math department to begin using Connected Math as a supplement to their lessons now so that they will be prepared for the Investigation’s students when they arrive in Middle School two years from now.
Like Investigations, Connected Math follows the constructivist method of instruction and is not recommended by the state DOE for use in Grade 6 or 8, though it is approved for use in Grade 7. Additionally, Connected Math was not approved for use as a primary text by the PWC school board when it selected textbooks in 2005. Connected Math, in my opinion, is just as bad if not worse, than Investigations (more on that in a later post).
Why am I concerned about this? The book, afterall, is just supplemental.
Because lack of official approval and following proper procedures didn’t stop the PWC math department from pursuing their objective of spreading constructivist math throughout elementary schools in the county and I doubt it’ll stop them from spreading it to middle schools.
This slow, quiet creep is the same process math department officials followed to sneak Investigations into classrooms before it was approved for use county wide, and, as long as the text remains “supplemental” the county is well within the parameters of existing policies and regulations to use it.
Like their elementary school colleagues, middle school teachers have expressed concern with the Connected Math curriculum through official channels at training sessions and meetings, and, like their elementary school colleagues, middle school teachers are being put under considerable pressure to keep quiet and just go along.
So, in anticipation of Investigation’s students arriving in middle school the fall of 2010, the PWCS math department is already training middle school teachers on Connected Math’s teaching style and material and encouraging them to use Connected Math in their classes now so that they are familiar with it when the Investigation’s students begin arriving in the Fall of 2010.
But what about the students already in middle school and those who will arrive this Fall? Don’t they deserve the best curriculum possible? Don’t they deserve a curriculum which is supported by PWCS administration and teachers who are trained to use the current curriculum to meet their needs? How does emphasizing the curriculum the teachers will have to follow in 2 years support them? Or are these students not a priority for the PWCS Math department because they weren’t taught under the constructivist philosophy the math department so fervently supports? It certainly seems that way to me.
And what about honesty? Math department officials knew full well that Connected math was the follow on to Investigations and I’d be willing to bet that they knew they’d be bringing Connected math to the Middle Schools in time for the Investigations students to arrive. But none of that was ever disclosed to parents and the school board when they adopted Investigations. Had the school board been informed that choosing Investigaitons for elementary school would lead to Connected Math for Middle School, I’d bet they’d have had a few more questions and been more concerend with the program. Yet again math department staff withheld information to ge the program they wanted in the elementary schools knowing that once it was there it would be next to impossible to remove and that continuing the progem into middle school was all but guaranteed.
Coupled with the apparent disregard for the policies and procedures promulgated by the state regarding textbook adoptions and the bias in the selections process, I’m beginning to wonder just what’s going on and whether the school board will step up and demand accountability.
We seem to have an administration which is bound and determined to bring constructivism to every classroom in the county by whatever means necessary. This is not good and it seems to foreshadow a much longer and more intensive fight than just elementary school. Equally, if not more concerning, is the administration’s apparent disregard for the needs of students not taught under their preferred approach. Those students who are currently in middle and high school or who are taught traditional math at home.
That, to me, is unacceptable.