Letters to Editor
Some parents have written to newspapers such as the Raleigh N&O and Charlotte Observer. Only ONE has been published, amidst numerous letters about the N&O removing "Mallard Fillmore" and "Doonesbury" cartoons.
No wonder newspapers are becoming a thing of the past.
Math Cheese Moved to After-School Activity
In your recent story, “Wake changed how it teaches high school math. Some parents say it’s hurting students,” Wake County school officials said they are “moving the cheese a little bit” so the children of the county can ostensibly improve their math application skills. MVP math has moved the cheese indeed, but it’s more than a little bit.
Parents of MVP students in WCPSS are finding their children’s math “cheese” has not only been moved, it’s been replaced in the classroom with learning application as a higher priority than that antiquated math tactics of repetition and practice. While the goal of improving math application understanding is a noble one, it it is not the only one, and certainly not a goal that comes before the “cheese” previously called “learning math itself”. That “old cheese” has largely been moved to an after school activity, where students must attend school tutoring sessions, hire tutors at their parent’s expense, and seek and watch internet videos which do the teaching of “old cheese math” that was not done in class that day. Parents and students don’t need more self-help resources from WCPSS, they need teachers to be allowed to teach math - in the classroom.
Not Just Green Hope
In response to your recent online article regarding the WCPSS MVP math curriculum, I believe there were several facts that were not quite accurate and perhaps, warrant a bit more investigation. Teachers, parents and students are extremely frustrated with this curriculum and their dissatisfaction has been shared with local high school administration, the WCPSS School Board and local officials.
Perhaps the emails or letters have been inadvertently placed in their Spam files but I know “more than one or two” letters of discontent have been sent since Fall 2018. This frustration is not delegated to Green Hope High School - the frustration is distributed across the county. Recently, a meeting was held at GHHS to enlighten parents about the the MVP curriculum. When the “this seems to be a Green Hope problem” statement was uttered, parents stood up around the room responding: “Cary HS”, “Apex Friendship”, “Broughton” and “Garner”. More schools were mentioned but I was not close enough to hear the names.
The teachers and students are not the issue - the curriculum is the common denominator that needs to be factored out. Please remember, “What starts here, changes everything.” We are hoping the math change starts now.
I am very upset and disappointed with the MVP program (“Wake changed how it teaches high school math. Some parents say it’s hurting students,” Feb. 22). My son is at Green Hope High School and is taking Math 3. It’s not uncommon for him to come home and tell me “they’re not teaching me anything,” or “I don’t get it — they don’t help.” Being a Junior who has always excelled in mathematics, he currently has a 66 average in this class.
I have always respected and admired teachers, and I don’t think this is their fault. That said, it’s up to the district to fix this somehow, as this will definitely have an impact on students college transcripts. I feel like my son is a guinea pig for some sort of “beta trial” of the MVP program.
N&O Ignores MVP Fight
Wake County Public School System is now 3.5 semesters into its rollout of claimed "free" OER (open educational resource) and common core spawn Mathematics Vision Project. The rollout has been a disaster as inconsistent implementation favors students with teachers who bypass the new "discovery learning" approach and confusing workbooks. Former honors math students are flocking to non-honors classes as the content is no different but the tests are. MVP has eradicated WCPSS's performance lead over NC in "Economically Disadvantaged" and "Limited English Proficiency" subgroups. Parents have made public records requests which WCPSS legally complied with. WCPSS now admits expenditures over $1.4M. Additionally, supposed performance gains for Year 1 implementation were, in fact, much lower than gains in the prior year, before MVP. Dishonest and misleading! Parents showed up at the school board meeting with protest signs shown on screen for half the evening, and have 5 speakers deliver their compelling stories. Not so much a hashtag acknowledging the MVP topic from the N&O reporter tweeting on site. When will the N&O practice a random act of journalism and report on all that the parents are finding about this epic educational tragedy occurring right under citizens' noses?
Please see attached emails for proof of the cost and performance public records requests. The EDS and LEP data is reported here:
I would be more than happy to give an investigative journalist at the N&O enough data to make a heck of a story if anyone there cared to report on it. PLEASE HELP US GET THIS STORY OUT!! Read the other stories on my blog!!!
To: Charlotte Observer
Submitted to Charlotte News & Observer Op-Ed:
I grew up in Charlotte but have been in the Raleigh area for the last 36 years. I would be remiss if I did not forewarn you, dear Charlotte, of what is coming your way in your public school system.
I have 3 sons, the youngest of whom is a sophomore in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). Our former assistant superintendent Brian Kingsley was instrumental in bringing a "discovery learning" integrated math curriculum called Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) to our system starting in the 2017 school year. You can do your own research about the ideologies around "math wars" but the bottom line is that the program Kingsley promoted and selected is not working in Wake County.
Because of the instruction methodology mandated by the MVP curriculum, students spend considerable class time trying to teach one another math concepts, while the teacher "orchestrates" and "facilitates" the class cacophony hoping that the students "learn math by doing math." Former honors math students are failing math. Parents of means are hiring tutors just to help their former A-students previously bound for STEM careers survive with a C. Students in economically disadvantaged and English learners are falling further behind in Wake County. Many students simply aren't learning under the new model. The WCPSS school system is doubling-down, having spent over $1.4M on this supposed "free open education resource" mostly on professional development required for hundreds of math teachers to unlearn how to teach using their own creativity and prior educational training.
Over 1000 parents in Wake County have joined a Facebook group to fight this program. Many parents have submitted material objections to WCPSS citing 10 policy violations. Parents have spoken about this at every school board the past 2 months.
The point of this letter is not to debate the merits of the program, but to warn Charlotte parents. Brian Kinglsey is now chief academic office of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He recently held community information sessions to introduce new math curriculum ideas to CMS. My team tried to warn Charlotte parents via social media, but had little success. I suspect you are about to experience the same fiasco that we have. Please do your homework, Charlotte parents, and be informed before it's too late.
LET WAKE TEACHERS CREATE BETTER MATH CURRICULUM, SAVING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
Here’s an idea for WCPSS to address 3 current problems at once: 1) continued budget expansion, 2) underpaid teachers, and 3) pouring good money after bad into a widely unpopular and problematic secondary math curriculum called Mathematics Vision Project.
By my estimation, WCPSS must have nearly 600 math teachers teaching with MVP. Before MVP, every school and every teacher had curriculum resources they used to teach Math 1, 2, and 3. Those resources are still available on Google drives or on teacher laptops. So the resources for an excellent perfectly-matched-to-standards curriculum exist in aggregate across the county. With some level of adult coordination and project management, WCPSS could invest money in making robust system-wide curriculum resources.
This investment could be in the form of tooling (software) and labor (paying teachers lucrative bonuses to contribute to a curriculum resource bank) which could result in a tailored solution that is on the mark with state standards. ALL teachers would have access to ALL resource for ALL students. Parents would have resources (notes + examples) to help students.
Save the millions spent on one-time-use MVP workbooks and teacher re-education required to teach with an experimental curriculum resource like MVP, and shower that money on the excellent teachers who know best how to teach Wake County students. Even paying 100 math teachers $50 per hour for 40 hours each would be a fraction of what we are spending on MVP annually. And the result would be one of the best math curriculums in the country. It’s a win for taxpayers, teachers, and students - and common sense.
LET WAKE TEACHERS CREATE BETTER MATH CURRICULUM, SAVING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
Here’s an idea for WCPSS to address 3 current problems at once: 1) continued budget expansion, 2) underpaid teachers, and 3) pouring good money after bad into a widely unpopular and problematic secondary math curriculum called Mathematics Vision Project (MVP).
By my estimation, WCPSS must have nearly 600 math teachers teaching with MVP. Before MVP, every school and every teacher had curriculum resources they used to teach Math 1, 2, and 3. Those resources are still available on Google drives or on teacher laptops. So the resources for an excellent perfectly-matched-to-standards curriculum exist in aggregate across the county. With some level of adult coordination and project management, WCPSS could invest money in making robust system-wide math curriculum resources including:
- A database of high quality class lessons which map to state standards and made available to students (and parents) for use after class
- A math problem bank (some with and some without worked examples) which could be used by teachers or students for class work, homework, quizzes, and tests.
- Problems could be mapped to lessons (which are mapped to standards).
- Problems could be rated for difficulty which would allow teachers to build assignments and assessments appropriate for scaffolding.
- This could include MVP problems which are utilized during the appropriate time at the teacher’s discretion.
- Continued refinement or adjustments to standards changes year after year.
- Teachers could use their own creativity to deliver the material using methods best suited for their style and students’ needs.
The results would be truly high quality resources not riddled with errors and confusion like MVP materials, better performing students, increased teacher satisfaction and buy-in. ALL teachers would access to ALL resource for ALL students. Problem difficulty ratings would ensure ALL students are met where they are and can be challenged to go higher. Assessments would be fair because they would only contain problems within the realm of what is expected. Parents would have resources (notes + examples) to help students if needed.
This investment to do this could be in the form of tooling (software) and labor (paying teachers lucrative bonuses to contribute to the project). Save the millions spent on one-time-use MVP workbooks and teacher re-education required to teach with an experimental curriculum resource like MVP, and shower that money on the excellent teachers who know best how to teach Wake County students. Even paying 100 math teachers $50 per hour for 40 hours each would be a fraction of what we are spending on MVP annually. And the result would be one of the best math curriculums in the country. It’s a win for taxpayers, teachers, and students - and common sense.
Wake MVP Parent
Regarding “Firm sues parent over vocal objection to math curriculum,” (July 31):
The Wake County school board should immediately drop Mathematics Vision Product now that it has sued a parent who complained about its MVP Math program.
Regardless of whether the lawsuit has merit, the board should use this opportunity to make it clear to all suppliers that the school system will not tolerate even the appearance of intimidation and bullying of parents.
Otherwise, the fear of ruinous lawsuits will severely chill parental involvement in the future and other suppliers will quickly learn to use hardball tactics as an accepted way to secure business with our school system.
Both of these effects would be bad for our schools, and the long-term health of our schools trumps any other consideration in selecting a math program.
Michael Johnson, Raleigh