I was in the audience at the time, and I was annoyed, because our curriculum most certainly was Math Trailblazers.
"People say our curriculum is Trailblazers," she said, "but it's not. We write our own curriculum."*
At the time, I was somewhat regularly in touch with a parent who had worked as an editor for a textbook publisher. Apprised of the 'we write our own' exchange, she was aghast.
In the world of publishing, where curricula actually do get written and published, writing a curriculum is a massive undertaking that consumes months of effort and multiple bodies playing multiple roles.
Not here. In my district writing-our-own-curriculum meant giving teachers two-week stipends over the summer to meet with a Trailblazers specialist from Bedford (the only other district still using Trailblazers, everyone else having dumped it) and be briefed on tweaks.
Trailblazers finally disappeared last year, but the curriculum situation has not improved. It's probably worse; the old-time curriculum adoption process seems to have been scuttled in favor of unilateral decisions made by the central executives. And our current curriculum director's new Powerpoint, titled "Teaching for Understanding," includes the observation that "Conventional linear (text-book [sic] driven) scope and sequence is a major impediment to developing understanding."
Naturally the words "we write our own curriculum" make me crazy because, as an adjunct who actually does write her own curriculum, not to mention an author who writes her own books, I know exactly how time-consuming writing a curriculum is.
Writing a curriculum takes forever.
Here's Siegfried Engelmann on the subject of writing and time:
As part of the endorsement of whole language, the ["Report Card on Basal Readers"] concludes that teachers should throw out basal readers and teach without them, using literature. The baseless are seen as an evil that deprives reading specialists of their right to make instructional decisions.Six hours a day, five days a week, for two years.
There are several problems with this solution: The first is that teachers are typically slaves to instructional programs and follow them very closely (even when they tell other that they don't). The second is that there is no evidence to support the assertion that typical reading specialists are capable of designing instruction that is effective (and a lot of data to suggest that they aren't). The third and most serious problem is that a reading specialist who designed even one grade-level of a program that worked well with the full range of kids, wold have to work on it no less than 6 hours a day for a minimum of two years.
War Against the Schools' Academic Child Abuse by Siegfried Engelmann, p 24
Sounds about right to me.
Full disclosure: I am writing part of a textbook.
It's taking forever.
* Later on one of our school board members, whom I had lobbied heavily on the subject of Singapore Math, took to calling our curriculum "Irvington math."