Category Archives: Issues

Math in Focus Wins! School Board action on Math Curriculum

This post will be updated as possible. For the SPS live feed, click here.

Update 8:19 PM. Per Lorie Bennett: “Math in Focus has been adopted as the sole math curriculum by the SPS Board with 4 votes for and 3 votes against.”

Amazing, amazing accomplishment! Thank you to everyone who sent a message to the school board!

Update 9:00 PM. Some other coverage:

Blow by blow reporting at Seattle Schools Community Forum

 Celebratory story at the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Update 11:00 PM. Announcement e-mail to PTA members:

You Did It! Math in Focus WINS!

Thanks to you, the Seattle school board voted tonight in a monumental turn of events to adopt Math In Focus as the single K-5 elementary curriculum.  Your voice was heard, you saved Singapore Math for Schmitz Park, and every student in Seattle Public Schools will now have access to the math excellence that we’ve pioneered. 

Never say you can’t fight town hall. Courageous votes from Board Members McLaren, Patu, Peters, and Peaslee came only after long hard work by dozens of Schmitz Park leaders and our allies at West Seattle STEM and other schools to make a solid case, and by many more of you who took the time to let those board members know your own stories. 

Thank you for supporting the cause, sending letters, and giving moral support.  And special thanks to Emily Giaquinta – who spearheaded our campaign, and took our voice to new levels. 

This is a monumental win for our children, for our dedicated teachers, and for everyone! 

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Future of Math in Seattle Schools: Will Singapore Prevail?

This is a Call to Action to Share Your Singapore Math Story

This is a critical time to voice your personal support for Singapore – Math in Focus to the Seattle School Board. Schmitz Park Elementary staff, teachers, parents, and the PTA board all agree that a Singapore Math program is the best possible curriculum for our kids—and over the last 7 years our kids math scores prove it. Please contact the School Board and tell them why you believe Singapore – Math in Focus is the right choice for your child.

What’s at stake?

The School Board is voting this Wednesday, June 4th, on which math curriculum will be adopted for all K-5 Schools over the next seven years. Now is the time to put all of our efforts into influencing the vote. We only have time for one last effort to reach School Board Directors and ask them to vote for Singapore – Math in Focus.

How did we get here?

During the Math Adoption Committee’s process, a Public Input period occurred and the results from parents were overwhelmingly in favor of Math in Focus. Schmitz Park Principal, Mr. Gerrit Kischner, our teachers, Schmitz Park PTA, and parents have each stated the same, over and over again. Our collective public opinion was not factored into the recommendation. Since then, more and more parents and schools are coming forward saying they want Singapore – Math in Focus as the preferred math curriculum across the District. What’s more, Seattle schools and Singapore Math advocates have challenged this recommendation. Fortunately, Singapore Math in Schmitz Park Elementary still remains a viable option. After the initial School Board recommendation, School Director McClaren submitted an amended Board Action Report which was co-sponsored by Director Sue Peters, outlining a “dual adoption” to provide schools a choice between enVision OR Math in Focus (Singapore). This amendment may be at risk, facing a potential legal challenge. Now, a new amendment is also in consideration which asks the School Board to adopt Math in Focus as a sole curriculum.

Here are Five Good Reasons why Singapore – Math in Focus is the Right Choice:

  1. Test Scores Prove It – Of Schmitz Park’s 70 graduating 5th graders, 51% will or are likely to bypass 6th grade math after 2014 Spring MAP Scores. (A score of 235+ qualifies recommended students to enter 7th grade math and 27 students scored 235+. A score of 228-234 qualifies a student to take the middle school placement test to confirm they will advance to 7th grade math. Nine students scored 228-234.) Of STEM at Boren’s 36 graduating 5th graders, 81% will or are likely to bypass 6th grade math after review of the 2014 Spring MAP Scores. (27 students scored 235+, two scored 228-234.)
  2. Buy- In: Schools Approve It – Singapore Math has backing from elementary schools (and middle and high schools) across the district. It was chosen 7 years ago as a “supplementary” curriculum by SPS. The problem was “supplementary” did not come with any district support in the form of professional development or materials for students. Buy in from parents is not easy to achieve and here is an example of where it is only growing, yet, SPS is ready to dismiss it. Read Testimonials.
  3. Anyone Can Learn It – Math in Focus is language neutral, ensuring “Equity for EVERY Student”. In contrast, the enVision curriculum is text heavy and will continue to present an English language barrier for ELL students. Children of ethnicity comprise 62% of the district (Bilingual children (ELL) have a 38% proficiency rate). Increasing their proficiency rates requires a program that has proven success for students struggling with text intensive math programs. Math in Focus would “Improve systems District wide to Support Academic Outcomes”, which has been proven by Schmitz Park Math scores and K5 Stem at Boren scores.
  4. Student Mobility-Consitency – There is frequent student mobility in the Southern sections of our district, where students may transfer in and out of Seattle Schools with the Highline School District. Highline uses Math in Focus and has achieved such strong results they are extending their curriculum to their middle schools. Math consistency during a transition into the Seattle School District will help make school transition easier for students.
  5. Teacher’s and Principal’s TestimonialsRead the testimonials made by teachers and parents who feel strongly about Singapore Math. There is a reason Singapore Math was selected at our newest Science, Technology, Mathematics & Engineering (STEM) School. There is a reason Schmitz Park Elementary achieves high middle school placement scores year over year.

Please Share Your Story on How Singapore Math has Benefited Your Student

Do not think for a moment that someone else will, or can, share your perspective. Every person (parent, student, teacher, principal, community member) needs to share their opinion on what is best for our students and families. School Board Members

School District Staff

For quick reference, these are the email addresses to cut and paste into your response martha.mclaren@seattleschools.orgsharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org; sherry.carr@seattleschools.org; harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org; stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org ; sue.peters@seattleschools.org ; betty.patu@seattleschools.org ; isvela@seattleschools.org;  superintendent@seattleschools.org;  anna.box@seattleschools.org ; Shauna Heath ; slheath@seattleschools.org ; mftolley@seattleschools.org

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Math Adoption – Call to Action!

The PTA was unanimous that Schmitz Park continues our Singapore Math program and not change math curriculum this September. Whether that will be an option is unknown. Members of the School Board, families and our own staff are in favor of allowing schools like Schmitz Park to keep their Singapore Math-based curriculum. But is that enough? Attend a critical community meeting with Marty McClaren on Saturday May 31st 10AM-12PM at Southwest Branch Seattle Public Library, 9010 35th SW.

math image

At this point, with a Board vote pending on June 4th, our best route forward will be to urge the District to implement a dual adoption where schools can choose envision or Math in Focus (Singapore Math-based program). Advocating for all students in all schools to have the opportunity to use Singapore Math gives everyone access to a math program we know teaches kids math. However, we need a contingency plan to preserve the commitment to our math legacy at Schmitz Park. Our waiver for the past 3 years expires in June and there is no sign from the District that they will allow us another one. Families should voice their concerns about what they believe is best for their students by emailing our school leaders. We ask that they support our choice and respect our investment.

Those leaders are:

Marty McClaren (Seattle School Board) martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

Shauna Heath (Executive Director, Curriculum and Instructional Support) slheath@seattleschools.org

Michael Tolley (Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning) mftolley@seattleschools.org

Please contact Emily Giaquinta at capacity@schmitzparkpta.org with questions or comments on how you can further advocate for our school.

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Schmitz Park PTA math adoption letter sparks advocate discussion

A letter from Schmitz Park PTA President Jeff Rayner and Capacity Chair Emily Giaquinta to the school board got picked up and reposted to the Seattle Schools Community Forum. To-date it has prompted 55 comments, including some very detailed and thoughtful analysis. This is good reading for members looking to learn more about what others are thinking on math adoption.

Seattle Schools Community Forum has five years of posts referring to Schmitz Park and Schmitz Park PTA.

 

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Important decisions made at May 15th PTA meeting

Thanks to the many members who attended Thursday night’s important member meeting or provided helpful input in advance on the historic decisions to be made! The full set of minutes will be ready soon, but as these decisions will affect us all and there is important work to be done, we thought a topline summary would be in order.
Math curriculum: As previously posted, after six years of investment in Singapore Math by Schmitz Park faculty, students, and parents, we are on the verge of having to adopt a different math curriculum, enVisionMath; a curriculum that many see as a step backward for our students.  By unanimous vote, the members at the meeting adopted a resolution calling on the School Board to protect and support our investment in Singapore Math.  
We also agreed to request the school board directors to consider the following alternatives:

  1. Reject the Math Adoption Committee’s recommendation of enVision and adopt Math in Focus as the new K-5 Math Curriculum.
  2. Approve a Dual-Adoption giving schools the choice to implement enVision – OR – Math in Focus
  3. Amend Policy No. 2020 on the Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials to allow Schmitz Park and other schools using, or desiring to use, a Singapore Math-based curriculum like Math in Focus to ensure funding will be provided from the district to support an approved alternative math curriculum.
PS as you can see, we are suggesting that SchmitzPark adopt Math in Focus, not Singapore Math.  However, MiF is a Singapore based Math program, merely tweaked to the American system, aligned with Common Core Standards, and with refreshed teaching and learning materials.
Budget: The members energetically discussed the budget proposal (posted previously here). One change was adopted to increase the contingency funding in the event that it becomes necessary for the Schmitz Park PTA to pay the full price of the Math in Focus curriculum (a $20,000 increase authorized). Then, after vigorous discussion, the members voted unanimously to adopt a budget of $320,000. The members further voted to develop a fundraising plan that addresses the one-time $80,000 expense that the curriculum represents.
Stay tuned for the full minutes and for specific ways you can help us meet the policy and budget goals that these decisions require.
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Call to Action: Save our Math Legacy!

[update At the School Board meeting on May 21, the Board will be listening to Public Testimony so if you feel you want to address the Board, please do. To sign up for public testimony, members of the public should e-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org or call (206) 252-0040 and give their legal name, telephone number, e-mail address, and the topic they would like to address.]

Schmitz Park’s Singapore Math Legacy is in Jeopardy. But you can help save it!

The Seattle Public Schools Math Adoption Committee has recommended the enVision Math Program for kindergarten through fifth grade for adoption by the School Board. Switching to enVision would be a step backwards for Schmitz Park children’s education.

We at Schmitz Park would like the district to reject the recommendation/select Math in Focus, consider a dual adoption (Math in Focus and enVision) or amend the math waiver process to guarantee funding of math programs schools like ours have implemented.  Our PTA raised the initial funds 7 years ago to implement this math program at Schmitz and our parents are passionate about maintaining our investment.

Here is a sample letter outlining our concern. Please feel free to write your own message or share the message in the letter. The Board will meet to discuss the recommendation on Wednesday, May 21st. The vote will take place June 4th. No time to waste!

Who to Contact:

Seattle School Board

School Board Members

District Staff

 

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PTA GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING TONIGHT

This is our last planned meeting of the school year and we need your vote!

Please join us at 6:30pm and lend your voice to some HOT topics including:

  • Help vote in the proposed budget for the 2014/2015 school year.
  • District math adoption: What is the difference between enVision (recommended by the committee for District-wide adoption) and Math in Focus (a newer, Singapore-based text)?  Hear from teachers and parents of Schmitz Park children who have benefited from the Singapore Math model.
  • What is the best way to keep Singapore Math at our school when the district has recommended enVision for all Seattle schools?
  • Help nominate next year’s board…we are looking for interested candidates for the following positions: Vice President, Assistant Treasurer, Legislative Chair, and Volunteer Coordinator.

FREE Childcare will be provided in the gym to school age children

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PTA Budget for discussion at May 15 meeting

It’s the last planned member meeting of the year and we’ve got some big decisions to make.
Key issues:
  • Schmitz Park’s legacy of excellence in math, and what we can do to preserve it.
  • The PTA budget for next year.
We hope you can join us to learn about these critical options, partake in the discussion and vote to ensure we map the best path for our children. Follow the link below for the budget proposed by the budget committee and recommended by the board. Please note the budget proposes a very significant increase in expenditures. Stay tuned to the Schmitzville Blog for additional information in advance of the discussion.

may-15-2014-budget-proposal

(this spreadsheet is password protected. members should receive the password via e-mail today May 14. Check your e-mail for the password, or send an e-mail to board@schmitzparkpta.org to request it).

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Excellence in Math – future in question

Seattle Public Schools will adopt a new math curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year. The Math Adoption Committee reviewed the final 3 programs and will recommend envision as the program to implement.

Rick Burke, a Math Adoption Committee Member states in his post at Save Seattle Schools, “Although the public feedback clearly favored Math in Focus, the program ranking [was] based on the CCSS-based evaluation criteria. MIF, following the Singapore framework, was noticeably advanced compared to the CCSS topic pacing. “

Thanks to years of commitment from Schmitz Park faculty and PTA support, Schmitz Park’s proven use of Singapore Math Curriculum has our kids entering middle school with a solid understanding of math. They are consistently at an advantage over non-Singapore math students in their grasp of the curriculum.

What did it take to make this happen? First, the school leadership, with PTA support, successfully lobbied the school district to grant a waiver, to give the school permission to use a different curriculum. Second, PTA supporters contributed over $180,000 over the past several years to pay for the curriculum and materials.

Next steps? If the school board adopts the recommendation, we will be faced with two choices:

  1. Use the school district’s new math curriculum, and risk leaving our legacy of excellence in math behind
  2. Go through the process of lobbying the district for another waiver, and raise $30,000 a year (plus a one-time $30,000 fee in the first year) to provide our own curriculum again

We need your help now to continue our legacy of excellence! Help us convince the school board of the importance of our tradition. Here’s how:

Marty McLaren
MS 11-010
PO Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Let us know you are taking action, and stay in touch as this issue develops. Send a message to PTA Legislative Chair Derek Birnie.

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