June 04, 2014

Math Victory in Seattle!

Tonight, the Seattle School Board, in a 4-3 vote, accomplished what seemed impossible a few years ago:  they voted to adopt a high-quality math curriculum for elementary school, Math in Focus (the American version of Singapore Math).

Thank you to all that contacted school board members and the Seattle Public Schools administration.

Finally, Seattle students will have an opportunity to build a strong foundation in math, one that will allow them to participate in an increasingly technological society.

Finally, Seattle students will be spared  fuzzy, discovery math in which senseless group learning, essays, and excessive calculator use have been the rule.

Finally, the empirical evidence of the superiority of the Singapore Math approach outweighed the nonsense coming out of education schools (like the UW, a strong supporter of the current textbook, Everyday Math).

And we should not forgot the critical four members of the Seattle School Board who had the guts and determination to do the right thing, pushing against the pressure of Seattle district administrators, Ed School ideologues, and often greedy textbook publishers.  The honored school board members are:

Sharon Peaslee
Marty McLaren
Sue Peters
Betty Patu

We must also thank a range of community math advocates, many members of WherestheMath, including Rick Burke,  Linh-Co Nguyen, Joan Sias, Ted Nutting,  Craig Parsley, Damon Ellingston, M. J. McDermott, Kate Martin, Stuart Jenner, Dan Dempsey, Dick Padrick, Paul Hewett, Meg Van Wyk and others.  And Melissa Westbrook of the Seattle Community Forum was  a major supporter.

This is important.  But now we must turn to replacing the very poor middle school curriculum currently used by Seattle Public Schools.


  1. YAY!!!
    Now, the next step is to hire teachers that actually know how math works and aren't afraid to teach it.

  2. Thanks for this good news

  3. Ran to your blog as soon as I heard the good news this morning. Thank *you*, sir, for your part in making this happen.

  4. Awesome! Thanks for keeping us informed, and encouraging us to review the materials and write in to the board members.

  5. Thank you, Cliff! You are the voice of math activism in the region. I'm so grateful.

  6. Dr Mass: Our local elementary school has decided they're going to have a staff vote on whether or not to use Math In Focus. No input from parents, no consideration of your generous efforts, no consideration of the school board's decision. I've argued for Math In Focus, liberally citing your clear reasoning. They announced this "vote" on Friday afternoon the 6th... and it will be held Monday morning the 8th, before school starts. This is lunacy...

  7. Dr. Mass,

    My child's elementary school will also be voting on whether to accept the School Board-recommended math instructional materials (Math in Focus), or apply for a waiver for the EnVison materials.

    Our school's Building Leadership Team was notified Friday night, June 7th, about the need for an emergency BLT meeting scheduled for Monday morning, June 9th, in which they will be tasked with making a recommendation on the math adoption materials and waiver, which will then be voted on by school staff Monday afternoon. The deadline to apply for waivers (for Envision, only) is Tuesday, June 10th.

    Our school currently uses Everyday Math, and has not piloted or used Math in Focus or Envision. All parents I have spoken with about this so far prefer Math in Focus to EnVision, and were happy with the School Board's adoption.

    - North-end Mom

  8. Looks like these "emergency" waiver meetings are widespread, per http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2014/06/seattle-schools-own-math-war.html - and possibly orchestrated by Banda. That's serious insubordination. Waivers that historically were near-impossible if you wanted to switch from Everyday Math to MiF, are suddenly fast-tracked in 3 days??? The fight's not over, Dr. Mass, and it could get ugly.

  9. Maybe this is the time to teach Singapore Math in Seattle.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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