(Updated 10:40 AM)
The big day is here: MATH is on the agenda. It's a big day because it will hopefully be the beginning of the end of two-plus years of Ridgewood's "math war." Dr. Fishbein will present the Math Planning Team's recommended math textbook for grades K-2 (following to grades 3-5 in 2010-11). As noted in the meeting agenda, which was posted on the district website on Friday, the recommended text is enVision Math.
The Board and the public will hear a presentation on the rationale for the recommendation, how enVision meets our criteria for a math program, and how it fits with our vision statement. The Board will be asked to vote to approve the purchase of the textbooks. The Board will listen, ask questions, consider the Math Planning Team's background and the research that we've been doing individually since the four finalists were announced.
For those who may have heard that the Board is somehow "breaking the law" in the process to be followed in approving the textbook...don't believe it. Here's the thing: Those who are claiming "foul" are mistakenly using the wrong section of Board policy. Policy 6141 states that the superintendent shall "establish procedures for curriculum development which ensure the effective participation of... parents/guardians and the community...” etc etc. This policy pertains to curriculum, NOT textbooks. We've had this discussion before, as you may recall: curriculum is what the students will learn... textbooks are how it will be taught. We're not voting on a new curriculum -- the curriculum is elementary math and we already teach elementary math. The curriculum that we follow is not changing. Just the textbook is changing. (An example of a new curriculum would be the RAHP program...or the new SAIL (special ed) program at the high school.)
We do have a policy for textbook adoption and approval. It's #6161.1 and it says any recommendation for new textbooks requires:
A. Review and recommendation for selection by teaching staff members, particularly those who will be using the materials. (This was done by the Math Planning Team and teacher-input meetings.)
B. A written summary of the review process and the reasons for the selection, including the titles and publishers of other texts selected. (This would be the Math Plan, the criteria, the vision statement, and the four finalists, all of which have been publicly announced.)
C. Opportunity for Board members to examine recommended texts and other instructional materials prior to approval pursuant to NJSA 18A:34-1. (Board members have had access to the finalists for quite some time, and each of us has reviewed the books and materials, in addition to other research, which could include readings, interviews, etc.)
It does not say anything about a waiting period between the recommendation and the vote.
(Note to self: as we are updating and revising our policies this year and next, let's clear up these sections so there's no confusion.)
What else is on the agenda?
• We're going to talk about establishing a committee (as per our policy) to consider awarding naming rights for various facilities (such as the stadium or other athletic facilities). This is a topic that's coming up more and more across the country, as cash-strapped districts look for new ways to create revenue. Click here for an article from the Bergen Record last year. Before anybody reacts with shock or excitement at the prospect of a named football field or whatever, keep in mind this is just a committee being established, to start talking. We already have a policy for this, so if it's something that might be on the radar, let's follow the policy and start by forming a committee.
I don't have my agenda in front of me and I can't remember anything else at the moment. I'll update more tomorrow if I think of anything else notable.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org