kitchen table math, the sequel: 5/13/07 - 5/20/07

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wholes, not parts

From the new superintendent of Ridgewood, NJ:
... constructivist teachers structure lessons around big ideas, not small bits of information. Exposing students to wholes first helps them determine the relevant parts as they refine their understandings of the wholes.

The Courage to Be Constructivist
Martin Brooks

Always good for the student to "determine the relevant parts."

Determining the relevant parts being one of the most difficult tasks in teaching and writing, let's hand that off to the student.

I think I've mentioned that I spent many years at sea after Jimmy's autism diagnosis. The disorder itself is bewildering, and the world that surrounds it is pretty well captured by Susan F. Rzucidlo in her short piece, Welcome to Beirut, a parody of Emily Pearl Kingsley's classic Welcome to Holland.

Susan R. beat me to the punch, btw. Almost from the time Jimmy was diagnosed, Ed and I had joked about writing a short piece we were going to call "Welcome to Beirut," and then someone else went and did it.

So.... read a few paragraphs of "Welcome to Beirut" and tell me how a person goes about determining the relevant parts in the middle of a shooting war.

I was a model learner.

I was reading everything I could get my hands on, I was attending conferences, I was taking Jimmy to doctors and therapists and special educators, I was constructing knowledge right and left, or trying to ...... and I remained deeply confused.

Then Shirley Cohen published her book. She had planned to call it "A Map of Autism," and that's what it was. Or, rather, it was a map of the world of autism: the advocates, the educators, the theorists, and the desperately mourning parents. What were they all talking about? Until Shirley wrote her book, I didn't know.

She picked up all the autism pieces -- the many moving parts -- that littered every surface of my house and life, polished them until they shone, and stacked and arranged each one in its proper places on tidy shelves she'd built after a lifetime studying the education of children with special needs.

At the end of her very short book, I saw. I don't know whether I can still find a copy of the review I wrote for Targeting Autism, but I do remember the last line: Shirley Cohen's book is a gift.

So.... I have to assume that Martin Brooks has never had to confront a "whole" in the shape of his own severely handicapped child. Shirley's book appeared in 1998; Jimmy was then 11 years old. He had been diagnosed at 4, and I had spent 7 years of my life trying without success to determine the relevant parts.

I often have the feeling that constructivism is not a very nice thing to do to children.

Maybe those 7 years after Jimmy's diagnosis have something to do with it.

wholes, not parts: Martin Brooks and The Constructivist Classroom
whole math
top-down teaching

Do not press send

Straightening up the dining room table this morning (I'm still at it) I found a hard copy of this email to our new Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Technology.

I had to post it.

I didn't send this version to the superintendent. I don't remember what I did send, but I hope it was something reasonably short and to the point.

Good evening, G.

Christopher tells us he is to “create an artifact” for Social Studies / ELA at the end of the year.

For instance, he could construct a Civil War sword.

Or a Civil War musket.

Next year he will be expected to write a complicated research paper in 8th grade social studies, so this year he is preparing for that challenge by.... constructing an artifact.

I can’t tell you how violently we object to arts and crafts projects at this point.

Arts and crafts projects have nothing to do with college preparation.

In fact, we would go so far as to say that arts and crafts projects are the opposite of college preparation, Howard Gardner notwithstanding.

We know this because one of us — that would be Ed — is a professor at a major research university.

Ed is a historian.

Remarkably, Ed managed to earn a Ph.D., receive an appointment at UCLA, earn tenure, and publish numerous refereed articles, book reviews, and scholarly monographs without constructing a Civil War sword or musket.

Nor has he ever assigned a Civil War sword or musket construction project to his students.

If real historians don’t have to construct artifacts, we don’t see why our 7th grade son should have to construct artifacts, either.

So we object.

Making matters worse, the middle school will not be providing even a smattering of instruction in how to construct a Civil War artifact. That task falls to us. Again. As we’ve come to expect here in IMS, we are being commandeered to serve as the school’s uncredited and unacknowledged ghost teachers.

As half the district must know by now, we are already teaching math here at home — teaching math and wrangling with the district over the fact that we’re teaching math, which doubles or triples the time involved, not to mention the aggravation.

Math is fun.

Fighting with the district about who’s supposed to be teaching math — us or the school — is not fun.

Since last year we’ve been on the hook for teaching writing, too. We’ve elected not to battle the district on the subject of writing instruction; we’ve just sucked it up and done it, or tried to.

Of course, we’re not making much headway. Our child is too busy constructing Civil War artifacts in social studies, collages in ELA, hand-colored logos in “accelerated” math, and restaurant menus in Spanish to have much time left over to write stuff.

fyi: I’ve counted the books on writing and writing instruction I have sitting beside me, waiting for my attention.


17 books on writing
1 book on summarizing
2 books on logic
1 anthology of essays to serve as composition models (Norton Sampler)
1 complete 6th grade writing-and-grammar curriculum (Hake)
2/3 of Siegfried Engelmann’s Writing and Reasoning 6-12 middle school writing curriculum. (I’m missing the teacher’s Presentation Book for the simple reason that the Presentation Book costs two hundred dollars and the publisher won’t sell it to me because ----- I'm not a teacher.)

That’s not all.

Joseph Williams’ Style & Grace is on its way, and since I see that a used copy of Mina Schaugnessy’s classic Errors and Expectations: A Guide for the Teaching of Basic Writing is on offer for $9.09 at Amazon Marketplace, I think I’ll hit “Buy now with 1-Click” while I’m at it.


I’ve done it.

A couple of days from now, in addition to not using the aforementioned 22 2/3 books on writing and writing instruction to teach my middle school child how to write because he's too busy constructing artifacts, I will also not be using Mina Schaunessy’s Errors and Expectations.

Then of course we have our vocabulary curriculum (Vocabulary Workshop) and our spelling curriculum (Megawords), since the school doesn’t teach spelling beyond --- what?

Fourth grade?


If a student isn’t spelling by fourth grade, too bad!

So we’re attempting to teach spelling, or, rather we’re attempting to haul a 12-year old boy bodily through a spelling curriculum.

Lucky for us, we’re interested in math and we both happen to be writers. Also, we can spell.

But we have no freaking idea how to “construct an artifact.”

Furthermore we have no interest in learning how to “construct an artifact.”

Nor do we relish the prospect of scouring the Internet and the crafts shops looking for directions on how to construct an artifact and/or a pre-fab Civil War sword or musket kit like the solar system kit everyone bought last year when we had to do the Jason Project.

(also to file under fyi: We attended the Jason Project event held at the middle school last year, where we noticed that three of the papers on display were the exact same paper. What a superb resource the internet is for middle school children!)

If I could download a completed 7th grade arts and crafts Civil War sword from the internet, I would do it.

The budget vote is coming up, and the school year is winding down.

Many of us are exhausted.

I am exhausted.

How about you give us all a break and ask your teachers to stick to reading and writing assignments in reading and writing-based disciplines.

An assignment to construct an artifact isn’t social studies, and it isn’t art.

Catherine Johnson

Upshot: Christopher does not have to construct an artifcat.

This is good!

"The project method": child-centeredness in progressive education
Business opportunity
Do not press send
the project method
toga party

not very creative

Friday, May 18, 2007

D-Ed Reckoning: Income Inequality in America

D-Ed Reckoning: Income Inequality in America

I hate when I post a comment, then realize it would make a great post!

I was recently speaking to the director of vocational education at our local community college. He was telling me how hard it is to find students for some of their programs.He was out recruiting for his welding certificate program. Even though graduates started out making 40 to 50K a year, there is an huge shortage of qualified pipe welders.

Unfortunately, our school system seems to screw with kids on two levels. First they drill it into kids that if you don't have a college degree you are doomed, then they provide an inadequate education.

An Extremely Bad Idea

Crossposted on my blog.

Science Goddess is discussing the idea of giving Incompletes in secondary school (thanks to Joanne Jacobs for pointing it out--I'm not sure how I missed it on my first read through the Carnival this week). In the comments, I said that I'd have to think about it, but that my first reaction was that this was a remarkably bad idea.

The more I thought about it, the worse it seemed. It would have been bad enough if it were assigning an Incomplete for the whole class, but it's even more disastrous because it's assigning Incompletes for assignments. So if little Jimmy doesn't do his homework, instead of getting a zero for it, he gets an Incomplete (and we'll ignore the fact that Jimmy has earned an F, or perhaps leave it for another day).

We university types know something about Incompletes. Students ask for Incompletes all the time, and nearly always, the answer is "No," and for very good reasons. I've had this conversation with so many faculty members and grad students that I know it's not just my, or even a minority opinion. Incompletes are bad all the way around, for lots of different reasons. And the best example that the university--not just me or a handful of us--knows that Incompletes are bad is your nearest university policy on giving Incompletes. The typical university states that they should be given only in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the student. As another example, many universities also have policies that convert Incompletes into Fs after a specified time limit, usually a year.

Certainly, there are a handful of faculty who hand Incompletes out like candy, but they are a very small minority (or newly-minted PhDs who have next to no teaching experience). Incompletes are trouble all the way around, for the faculty member, for the university administration, and most of all, for the student.

Several commented that giving Incompletes sends the message that deadlines aren't important, and that's a valid objection, though by no means the only one, or even the major one. More importantly, it sends the message that deadlines--and assignments--aren't to be taken seriously, that work isn't important, and that managing time isn't important. Worst of all, it is grossly unfair to those students responsible enough to have done their work and turned it in on time--unforgivably unfair. Any teacher who would have handed out Incompletes in any class where I was a student to others who couldn't be bothered to do their work would have earned my undying, intense, cold hatred, the type of hatred that makes fantasizing about that teacher's gruesome, painful, tortuous death and screams of pain an erotic experience. And if I had children in a class and found out that the teacher was giving lazy little Jimmy an Incomplete instead of an F, you had better believe I would be in that teacher's office raising hell until he changed the policy.

But all that aside, there are other excellent reasons not to give Incompletes under these circumstances. A student gets an Incomplete because he is behind. If you could wave a magic wand and stop the passage of time so Jimmy could get caught up, it wouldn't be a problem--but you can't. What invariably happens is that as the class moves on, Jimmy either forgets about the Incomplete and stays behind, or doesn't, and gets further behind the rest of the class.

Most of the time, Jimmy forgets about the Incomplete, and never finishes it. This is why universities have implemented time limits on Incompletes, turning them into Fs if they aren't completed within a specified time. Or if Jimmy doesn't forget the Incomplete, he invariably turns in the paper or report or project at the very end of the semester, when the instructor is snowed with many hours of grading, recording grades, and turning in grades.

Jimmy assumes that his Incomplete will be given highest priority, but reality is the opposite (for obvious reasons). His report is put on the bottom of the already huge stack, or in a drawer so it won't get lost, and all too often, the instructor is so snowed with grading and end of the semester duties that, well, Jimmy's report falls through the cracks and turns into an F.

Jimmy's Incomplete then becomes an administrative nightmare. Rarely is the problem going to be noticed by the instructor; after all, had the instructor remembered, he would have graded the report. No, Jimmy or his parents will discover the problem when the grades come, and then (pardon the French) seventeen different kinds of hell will explode. The administration will call the department chair onto the carpet, and the department chair will then chew out the instructor. The instructor will then have to find Jimmy's report (where did I put that?), grade it, calculate a final course grade, file a change of grade form, and then explain to Jimmy that it can take the university up to a year before the grade change will be reflected on his transcript (ain't bureaucracy wonderful?)

And those are university Incompletes, given as a course grade. The proposal under discussion is giving Incompletes as assignment grades. Say the teacher gives twenty assignments. Multiply the problems mentioned above by twenty.

The best thing I can say about this idea is that any teacher who implements it will drop it after he recovers from his nervous breakdown.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Google blows a gasket


Tang and Song

from the instructivist:

"Knowledge is constructed by the learner from experience"

I still don't know (and probably never will) how I am going to learn about Tang and Song China by constructing knowledge from experience. Maybe time travel?

Well... I realized this week that we may have been a teensy bit confused about the purpose of constructivism.

Knowledge might be the wrong word.

I fear meaning is the word.

Learners construct meaning.

I think.

email to the math chair

Hi XXX ---

I believe the Phase 4 course for 8th grade will be using Dressler’s Mathematics A — is that right?

If so, I’m wondering whether the department could order a copy of the Teacher’s Manual for me, ISBN: 1567655475. I’ll happily pay for it.

I’d order it myself, but AMSCO doesn’t sell to parents, which means either I’ll have to round up a teacher friend to order it for me, as I did for Integrated Mathematics, or spend hours Xeroxing the copy my neighbor owns, which is the only copy that’s been available on Alibris in 6 months, or have Ed use his NYU stationary to make the purchase after cooking up a story about why a history professor needs a high school mathematics Teacher’s Manual.

I’m under deadline with my book, and I’d really like to be able to put the bulk of my time into that. Last winter I lost a morning of work tracking down the answer key for the State Test Prep book, talking to two different customer reps, providing Irvington school information in order to prove that I qualified for a school discount, awaiting return calls, etc. That is far too much time. (The Triumph test prep books are fantastic, by the way. I ordered one for all 3 middle grades – wonderful.)

I would really appreciate it if the department could simply place the order, or authorize me to do so, whichever is easier.

I plan to preteach some of the Math A course this summer, and for that I need the manual. This is important to Christopher’s learning of mathematics in Irvington Middle School.


Catherine Johnson

all the answers are belong to us
email to the math chair
second request
teacher's manual
it would be unusual
more stuff only teachers can buy
2 weeks off
the return of Ms. K

all the answers are belong to us

Just noticed this comment from Steve H:

One of the issues I have with EM is that the kids just bring tear-out sheets home for homework in their folder. We have the reference book at home (not helpful), but I want to see the two workbooks. I want to look ahead and behind. I also want to see which lessons the teacher is skipping!!!

Yes, well....

I want to see the answer key.

I learned from my neighbor today that her son, who is one year ahead of C. in school, will be using the same textbook next year that he used this year.

C. will be using the book next year, too.

That's a problem, because my neighbor owns the one and only Teacher's Manual available on the black market, and, as we all know, Teacher's Manuals cannot legally be sold to parents. Selling Teachers Manuals to the parents who are actually teaching the course would be wrong.

My neighbor says she'll Xerox it for me, but ..... I don't want a Xerox.

I want the book.

I'm teaching the course; I want the Teacher's manual.

I've decided to ask the math chair to order one for me.

I'll tell her I'll pay for it.

all the answers are belong to us
email to the math chair
second request
teacher's manual
it would be unusual
more stuff only teachers can buy
2 weeks off
the return of Ms. K

constructivist mind map

ISD Knowledge Base / Constructivism Summary Notes and Concept Map

Looking at this thing is making me nostalgic for ..... the STRANDS!

in case you were wondering

Individual constructivism

Knowledge is constructed by the learner from experience

  • Learning results from a personal interpretation of knowledge
  • Learning is an active process in which meaning is developed on the basis of experience.

These assumptions are based on credible research in cognitive psychology and human development. [ed.: no] Radical constructivists do not advocate goals, sequential instruction, aids to learning, or restrictions on content for learners because each learner is unique and educators do not know what the learners need or want to learn.

Moderate constructivists suggest that active and personal knowledge construction does not automatically mean all responsibility for developing a learning environment be placed on the learner. Deferring all information processing load of instruction to learners places an unrealistic burden on most learners for the vast majority of learning goals. For an operational model of instructional design for constructivist learning, see Mayer (1999)....

ISD Knowledge Base / Constructivism
Steven J. McGriff

I dunno.

This may be splitting hairs.

Buttons and Bow Ties

I bought an old 1963 Dolciani Algebra II text.

This is a photo from a side bar about statistics.

I have other pictures posted on my blog where I was having a little fun doing "compare and contrast" with a contemporary algebra text that I have. There are no depictions of anyone in the act of doing math in the contemporary text. Technology is in the form of architecture and most of the photos are of bees, flowers, and as one commenter put it "social studies." On the other hand, almost all the photos in the 1963 book were hands-on gadgets and gizmos.

I was surprised by the quantity of word problems in the Doliciani. It may even outdo Singapore's NEM in terms of word problems and it has lots of proofs.

Why don't they make them like this anymore?

A little depressing

As many of you know, we are moving to Anchorage in August. I was a little depressed to learn that Anchorage's 4th grade math standards are a little weak compared with South Carolina's.
From the Anchorage A Parent's Guide : Fourth - Sixth Grade

4th Grade math

• memorize multiplication/divisionfacts to a product of 100.

From the South Carolina 3rd grade math curriculum standards

1. Recall multiplication and division factsthrough 9.
Oh well, I guess the supplementing of my kids education will continue.

p.s. what is the purpose of the last week of school? It's not like the students learn anything.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The End is Near....

Almost the end of the school year... Why almost though? a month and a half, considering the official last day be June 27.

However, students are off the walls, teachers cannot (don't want?) to teach any more. I struggle trying to lecture my students on last two units left in Living Environment curriculum. Yes, I didn't manage to finish the curriculum, mistaken by the calendar from DOE. Well, the Regents exam is on June 20th, I should be able to finish the whole program and review, should't I?
Guess what? I have to turn the 4th marking period grades by May 25th. And what exactly am I supposed to do for another month? And since my students are scheduled to take two more quizzes before June 20th, what should I do with those grades?

And what was all the talk about EXTENDING the school year?

Well, that me, spoiled with my schooling in the Soviet Union... We studied until May 25th. The 4th marking period grades were given on May 26. The year grades were given after final exams (each year, in all subjects, starting in grade 5!) The time from May 25th to June 6 was devoted for finals - no classes. After that - summer break. Back to school-September first. 2 weeks breaks between marking periods. How were we able to cover ALL the programs and finish in time? And do it in 10 years?

What is the point to go to school when the grades are given and noone teaches anything new, and it's hot, and no a/c? I can understand my students who are rebelious these days. I have to remind them constantly, that we still have a bigger goal - Regents... And 12 instructional days left for everything, becauseour school will also hold millions of trips and project weeks before the REgents...

Text Savvy on Framing

Be sure to check out Text Savvy's recent posts about Framing. He also has a link to an excellent article by Keith Devlin titled, "How do we learn math?"

good days in Irvington

I left most of this comment on rightwingprof's post, but I think I'll repeat it here.

We've just had our board election, and it was wonderful. At the train station last night all 3 candidates (for two board positions) were handing out their literature; people were streaming into the school to vote; balloons were floating from stop signs and light poles.


Our guy lost. We bullet-voted for the person we thought most likely to force a change in the administration as quickly as possible. We liked both the other guys; if we could have elected all 3 we would have.

But we couldn't, so we bullet-voted for just one.

So... our guy lost, and we were disappointed .....

..... and then I realized I wasn't disappointed. I was happy the two men who had won would be joining the board.

I felt as if "the people have spoken" and the people know what they're talking about.

(How often does that happen?)

It's not that I felt, suddenly, that my vote was wrong.

I just felt that I can't predict the future; this may not be the time for the man we supported to serve (one of the other candidates had run before and lost); maybe his energies "are supposed to be" directed elsewhere at this moment in time.....

I felt that I was living in a community of serious people doing serious things.

I felt I could trust their judgment.

And I do.

Bye-bye school board!

We had our primary yesterday, and there was an estimated 55.71% turnout in this county, probably because so many people were furious with the school board (over money, not curriculum). All of the incumbents were tossed out yesterday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Texas Alternative Document

Texas Alternative Document

Elaine McEwan likes this.

update 3-27-2008

Apparently the old document has been removed and a new "draft" can be found here:

Substitute Amendment to English, Language Arts, and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
February 13, 2008

help desk - 1st grade reading

My memory is going.

I know we've talked about how to do "home assessments" of whether your child is reading at grade level.

What did we say?

I remember using something called the San Diego assessment... I'm going to go plunder the old ktm to see if it's there.

What else did we talk about?

Any suggestions?

I've just had a conversation with a parent of a first grade child, and I realize I don't know what to tell him about how to know where his child's reading stands.

Back shortly --

Monday, May 14, 2007

Virtual High School

Does anyone know about this:

Virtual High School

Our small middle school is now signed up to use their "gifted and talented" selection of programs to meet the needs of kids at our school who want more. Most of the on-line courses are not part of a regular middle school curriculum - things like:

Animation and Effects Section DR: Flash MX Basics

Career Awareness for the New Millennium Section DR

History and Pop Music Section DN

Programming in Visual Basic Section DS

But they do have regular courses like:

Algebra 1

Academic Writing Section MB

Their offerings do not form a curriculum and it appears that the value is for small schools that cannot offer a wide array of elective courses.

The problem is that our school is using it to avoid providing acceleration for the regular curriculum. Instead of replacing CMP for 7th and 8th grade math, they offer this plain vanilla Algebra I class using a Holt-Rinehard-Winston CD-based textbook. Instead of dealing with the real curriculum issues, they just looked for a stopgap measure.

Some of the courses look interesting, like music composition, but I know nothing about the rigor of the courses. It appears to me that the major attraction is the approach, not the content or rigor of the courses.

Does anyone have experience with this program? By the way, the course descriptions say that they are approved by NEA and

"Accredited by: NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)"

What the heck does this mean? My reaction is that these courses are a good way for busy athletes to get easy credits.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

American pie

the word from TERC, via Eclectic Educator:

Some teachers, however, feel compelled to deviate from what the "Investigations" program recommends, by teaching and drilling the familiar (to us) conventional algorithms. There seem to be three reasons why teachers feel a need to explicitly teach the conventional American algorithms:
  1. in response to pressure from parents who only know one method or from teachers at the next grade level
  2. to prepare students for a standardized test that assesses for knowledge of specific algorithms
  3. because they feel it is important for students' education
The first reason reflects that we live in a real world where, alas, not everyone appreciates the "Investigations" approach. In these situations, you may have to make concessions and explicitly teach the conventional algorithms to some degree. But be sure to ask yourself: is this a real need from parents and teachers or just a perceived one? Talk to parents and other teachers to find out the real nature of their concern. Perhaps they just want students to be able to solve computation problems accurately and quickly, and they are unaware that other algorithms can accomplish this too. As for standardized tests, your students should do well on these tests without knowing the conventional algorithms. Perhaps all they need is some familiarity with particular notation and vocabulary.

We need to be able to sue schools for educational malpractice.

Also textbook authors.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy! Happy!

We're going to have a good day -- going into the Village for Mother's Day brunch.

But first: I have to complain about my school district.

I have to. It can't wait.

Friday night -- Friday night -- the district launched a fresh constructivist assault via backpack letter and board email.

Friday night!

Mother's Day weekend.

Can't we get one weekend off?

Apparently not.

The intriguing question, for me, is what drives this behavior.

Does the district do this stuff on purpose, or do they simply not understand what the problem is?

They've been clobbered on TRAILBLAZERS; they've been battled to a standstill on the middle school model. They (and we) are experiencing nothing but pain each and every time the subject of constructivist reform comes up.

Now they deliver the exciting news -- via an emailed "press release" no less -- that constructivist education is coming to the high school. We are all of us to show up for the "kick off" event in our "strategic planning process," at which we will -- wait for it -- have an opportunity to ask questions.

Here are my questions, for starters.

Number one, does the board know that the superintendent they hired has a broad constructivist reform agenda?

I suspect not. I can't imagine she told them this when they hired her. Ed had one email from the board president last year that suggested the board sees what is happening here as a simple case of Irvington being brought up to speed.

Number two, does the board know what constructivism is?

I'm certain the answer to this question is 'no.' None of the 3 candidates running for the board knows what constructivism is; why should our current board know, either?

Number three, does the board know that this latest event will be viewed as a direct provokation by many of the most vocal members of the parent community? (5 days before the budget vote to boot)

"Number three" may be the most interesting question at the moment.

Friday night we received, I think, 5 different emails from the Board president.

First we got the weekly Board newsletter alerting us to next week's Landmark Event & telling us that a "press release" would follow.

(A press release? A press release to parents?)

Then we got the press release.

Then we got a correction to the press release; apparently the date on the press release was wrong.

Then we got a correction to the correction .... and after that I lost track. Ed says we also received a second copy of the press release.

(I'm thinking I may have to ask the board whether the press release was actually released to the press.)

Ed and I both, separately, read the blitz as a sign that the board knows this exciting new event has a significant potential to produce a fresh new onslaught of unhappy emails to the board. He says that when you repeatedly mix up the date, you do so because you're (unconsciously) dreading the whole thing; you're (unconsciously) hoping people won't come. And in fact an email blitz of the kind we experienced Friday night may indeed lower attendance. Who's going to sort through 5 different emails trying to figure out When and Where?

I had the same feeling.

Further evidence: the various communiques also informed us that the Coming Event will commence with our administrators asking "questions" based on some report none of us has seen or heard of.

I emailed the board asking for a copy of the report, and received a one-line reponse saying someone would get back to me.

After that, radio silence.

This is all the more revealing given the fact that I probably know the report; I already own, and am skimming, a copy of the book. Which I revealed in a follow-up email.

Assuming I do know what the report is, it shouldn't be difficult simply to say, "Yeah, that's the one." (Assuming the board knows it's the one, of course.)

"Someone will get back to you" sounds defensive to me.*


It's time to bring the issue of constructivism front and center here in Irvington. Thinking this through, I'm going to assume for the time being that a) the board doesn't know what constructivism is, and b) doesn't know that hostility to constructivism is the common theme running through (many) parent protests.

In fact, the report cited by the administration, Standards for Success (assuming there's not some other constructivist, Bill Gates-funded Standards for Success report floating around) is something the dissidents would approve of.

The fact that neither the board nor the administration appears to know this suggests that it's time to try to communicate the broader message.

That message is:

Students have a right to receive direct instruction in the liberal arts disciplines, and educators have a professional and ethical obligation to provide it.

* There's at least one other possibility I can think of .....