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Hearing on EveryDay Math for MP Schools

Original post made by Perla Ni on Mar 19, 2009

Controversial new math curriculum focus on calculators, estimations rather than teaching traditional math

There's significant controversy about the school district's decision to use Everyday Math starting in Sept. See the Palo Alto Weekly online and several thousand angry parent comments. This affects kids starting September 09 through the next 7 years.

The basic issue is that the new curriculum:

1. Ignores traditional multiplication and division and instead only teaches inefficient, contorted methods that cause confusion and math-avoidance among students. It teaches "partial-products method", "Egyptian multiplication", "Lattice multiplication", etc. Mathematicians and parents have almost universally criticized these methods for teaching math.

3. Instructs kids to estimate rather than actually doing the math to get an exact answer.

2. Instructs kids to use calculators rather than calculating math themselves. Here's the manifesto from the teacher's manual: "The authors of Everyday Mathematics do not believe it is worth students' time and effort to fully develop highly efficient paper and pencil algorithms for all possible whole-number, fraction and decimal division problems. Mastery of the intricacies of such algorithms is a huge endeavor, one that experience tells us is doomed to failure for many students. It is simply counter-productive to invest many hours of precious class time on such algorithms. The mathematical payoff is not worth the cost, particularly because quotients can be found quickly and accurately with a calculator."

See samples yourself here: Web Link

There's a school board meeting and parent attendance is encouraged:
March 24, 6pm, MP School District Office, 181 Encinal Ave, Atherton

Join the googlegroups parent group on this topic:
google.com/group/pampparentsaboutmath

AND come out on March 24th!

Comments (4)

Posted by Mike Lanza, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Here are detailed charts that compare Everyday Math's 3rd and 6th grade textbooks to other math textbooks on dimensions like calculator use and practice. EM comes out looking quite bad:

3rd grade: Web Link

6th grade: Web Link


Posted by DrJ, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:48 am

It is extremely important that we teach our children to be competitive in the world, and this is going to set them further behind. I think the city should stop to more thoroughly consider this program, and certainly not rush to implement an expensive and controversial shift in this budget climate. Our children deserve better instruction than "hey, use a calculator and ask for help from your group". This is only going to encourage math-fear in our girls, which already drives them away from technical and science professions by an early age. It's time to stop and think clearly- don't adopt this program!


Posted by Perla Ni, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

If you can't make it tonight, email the Menlo Park School Board at board@mpcsd.org. All board members will get your email. Tell them how what you think about this new curriculum and how you want more open process with parent voice in this process.


Posted by Laura, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 27, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I am a parent of children who use Everyday Math: one has had it for six years, the other 4 (from Kindergarten). I would highly recommend that it NOT be adopted unless there is a Sylvan Learning Center in town to help remediate the damage it has the potential to do. Sometimes the "experts in pedagogy" however well-intentioned, don't get it right. This is one of those cases IMO. It is frustrating to children who are not quick to pick up "concepts" without clear steps. It offers entirely too many ways to arrive at an answer in the K - 4 level. I can see where it may be advantageous to middle schoolers who have already established the basics, but parents should expect to work diligently to establish facts. Calculator are indeed introduced at the K level, and are used frequently to play games, etc. There are sections that ban calculators, but my kids are far too quick to reach for one as the idea is that they are "tools" with which to work. I'm fine with that AFTER they've learned they're tables. I find it ironic that testing scores are "soaring" yet accurate computational skills are poor. Some things are not all they appear to be - this would be the case with this program.


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