The mathematics textbook adoption process had begun. If you care about what your children are taught and how it is taught, you need to be alert and prepared to get involved. We will keep you up to date on what is happening and how you can get involved here. Elections for school board will be in November 2011. Many of the steps we believe are necessary will require action by our PWC School Board members. We need to make sure they understand that failing to act in an acceptable manner will be help against them in the 2011 elections.
Here are some of the things we believe need to happen.
(1) We need the PWC School Board to direct PWCS officials to present the mathematics textbook adoption criteria to them for public comment and approval before textbooks are considered. This needs to be completed in the November / December / January time frame so that any adjustments to the criteria as a result of community concerns can be reflected before textbooks are considered.
Our experience with PWCS and the PWC School Board suggests that the district will stonewall and / or fail to do this and the school board will not demand it without a public outcry. We are within our rights to demand this as the regulations governing textbook adoption require local school board approval of textbook adoption criteria. Our interpretation of those regulations suggest that PWCS must present the criteria it develops to select math textbooks to the PWC School Board for approval before the district begins considering textbooks.
(2) Comments from teachers and administrators within the school system suggest that the district will seek to expand the constructivist approach to instruction to Middle and High Schools in this textbook adoption cycle. Our experience with PWCS suggests that rather then be upfront about this change and open it to public comment and debate, the district will attempt to sneak it past us by (a) refusing to reveal the textbook adoption criteria in advance of textbook consideration and (b) claiming that they’re doing nothing more than adopting a new textbook.
The adoption criteria will reveal the instructional approach PWCS intends to use in the coming years. Assuming the criteria are presented, we need to review them, provide feedback to the school board on whether the criteria have the proper emphasis on content and reflect the instructional approach we believe our children need, and demand that the criteria be updated to reflect community concerns.
(3) Which textbooks are selected for use in PWCS will be based, in theory, on the recommendations of the PWCS textbook review committee. That committee is comprised of teachers who are recommended for the posts by administration and citizens who are appointed by their school board members. If you are interested in serving on this committee, you need to contact your school board member and let them know now. The committee meetings won’t begin until the Spring / Summer. Committee meetings are open to the public, though only committee members may vote or comment. Teachers and citizens who are not selected for the committee can attend and monitor the meetings.
(4) All textbooks considered by PWCS will be available for review at locations across the county. Parents who are not on the textbook review committee can review the materials and submit their assessment to the review committee.
(5) The district will likely present their recommended textbooks to the school board in the Fall of 2011, just before the election. We don’t know what materials the district will recommend, though we suspect the books they recommend will expand the constructivist approach to Middle and High School. Expanding that approach to Middle and High School would further undermine our childrens’ learning and opportunities. We need to be prepared to fight that and to let our elected school board members know that their vote on this topic will count for or against them in the November 2011 elections.
We will do our best to keep you informed and up to date. In the near term we need action from the school board on point (1).