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Resident wants schools to stop using unapproved math book

To the Editor:

I hope that when there is further discussion about the new Algebra 1 textbook at the upcoming Jan. 15 Board of Education meeting, the members of the board will finally insist the administration cease the use of the unapproved Algebra 1 textbook.

At the Dec. 11 BOE meeting, Karen Parks admitted that indeed there has been a textbook change. Connecticut General Statute 10-229 states, “No board of education shall change any textbooks used in the public schools except by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the board.”

BOE policy references the same statute. Why did the textbook change without BOE approval? Why does the board continue to allow use of the book?

Karen Parks also admitted, “The use of the CPM textbook is an area in which we made mistakes… we’d like to undo the error… we can’t fix it.” Why not?

In addition, just what did we purchase? The administration has said that we paid $13,000 to CPM (College Preparatory Mathematics) for professional development and use of the book. Yet the book’s publisher states on its website that professional development is free with the purchase of the book and that, “CPM underwrites the cost of providing instruction in the use of CPM materials (i.e., workshops)… Teachers and districts are responsible to purchase a teacher edition.”

It seems administration spent tax dollars on a new textbook without approval by the board, and without their knowledge. What else is being spent without board knowledge, or proper approval? I hope that those on the Board of Finance are paying attention so they may ask similar questions during the upcoming education budget discussions.

Moreover, the publisher’s website states, “CPM materials require significant change in the everyday work of the classroom.” Can we trust that our book changed in order to meet the instructional model as the administration suggests, or has the instructional model changed because the CPM materials that we purchased require it?

I have asked Dr. Boice to allow my son opt out of the “pilot.” I have not received an answer. I also asked Dr. Rasmussen, after the Jan. 3 math night, how to opt out. He responded that it’s not possible, and that we are actually “vetting” the book. I wish the administration would stop playing semantics.

Initially there was no mention of a new book, just a new “instructional model,” then we were “piloting,” and now we are “vetting.” Administration can choose to call it what they want, but “a rose is a rose is a rose.” And a textbook used in every single algebra class in the district is one that has been adopted.

I am one of the citizens and taxpayers that the board represents. I have followed BOE policy by waiting my turn at the BOE meeting to speak at 11 p.m. for my maximum two minutes. I have adhered to BOE policies. Why won’t the board of education require the administration do the same with respect to BOE policies and applicable state laws?

 

Susie Byrne

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