Prince William County, VA in the news again....

This time it’s not because the county Board of Supervisors have decided to enforce the rule of law regarding illegal immigration, it’s because the county School Board is set to consider giving parents control over how their children are taught and with what materials.

How could something so shocking happen? Well, it all started in 2006 when PWC selected a controversial mathematics program called Investigations in Number, Data, and Space as it’s primary curriculum for students in grades K – 5.  Investigations follows the constructivist, or reform, philosophy much like Every Day Math, except that EDM actually teaches a few concepts and is the equivalent of a college Calculus course when compared with Investigations.

Selection of the Investigations curriculum was biased from the beginning and school officials appear to have disregarded regulations promulgated by the state Board of Education in an effort to ensure that the text was selected. School officials have misrepresented what the county program does and does not entail, selectively reported test scores to paint the program as favorably as possible, failed to mention the results of their own survey which indicated that almost 50% of parents and 2/3 of grade 3 teachers were dissatisfied with the program, have attempted to stall efforts to gather data under FOIA, and have intimidated the parents who have dared to speak against the program.

In other words, PWC school officials and elected board members have acted just as we’ve come to expect politicians to act.

A short time after the battle to get rid of fuzzy math began, the parents leading the battle realized that the county had spent a small fortune implementing Investigations and that so many school officials and board members had expressed faith in the program that convincing the school board to dump it would never happen.  So we changed tactics and began requesting that the school system create an alternate instructional track based on a traditional, rigorous curriculum, which parents could opt their children into at their own discretion.

We’ve been pushing that front for some time and to tell you the truth it really didn’t seem like we’d made any progress – until about a week ago. At the January 7th board meeting one board member, who happens to be a Republican, using information gathered by school central office staff, accused the parents leading the charge against fuzzy math of being liars and disclosed the schools the children of those parents attend As one of the parents leading the charge against fuzzy math whose child was outed in the public forum, I have to say that I was incensed.

And then the reason for his attack became clear when a few days later an item was added to the January 21 school board meeting agenda debating to allow parents an opt in for traditional math.

I have to tell you that I am amazed. The public schools are our lovely little taxpayer funded monopoly and I have to pay for them even if I yank my kids because the schools are failing them. Because they’ve got their lovely monopoly, school systems are generally non-responsive parents and have a “we know better than you so just sit down, shut up, and enjoy it while we screw you and your kids” attitude. Until that agenda item was added, PWC seemed to epitomize that philosophy.

If the motion gets passed and parents are allowed to opt into an alternate instructional program, PWC stands poised to change that paradigm by giving parents control of how their children are educated and with what materials in the public schools. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

There are 8 board members and we need 5 to carry the issue.

We’ve been mobilizing our forces as best we can but we can’t reach every resident. The board meeting is January 21st. I’m not sure if they will vote that night to authorize an alternate instructional program or whether they’ll defer that vote to the next board meeting but I sure hope they’ll take this step on the 21st.

We could use all the help you can muster to get the word out – especially in PWC.

Imagine a local school district agreeing to allow parents a say in how their kids are educated and with what materials. Please help us make this happen.

The links below will give you more information on our fight and take you our blog, web site, math forum, and petition with almost 1500 signatures on it (which represents about 5% of the K – 4 parents).

Blog – http://www.pwceducationreform.wordpress.com

Web Site: http://www.teachmathright.com

Forum – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PWCSMathForum/

Petition – http://www.petitiononline.com/123math/petition.html