Friday, November 4, 2011

Trustees to discuss new math books

District acknowledges violating policy in textbook adoption

Express Staff Writer

Adoption this year of new math textbooks has become a sticky issue in the Blaine County School District as a group of parents claim that the district violated state law and its own policy in deciding which books to use.

The group further alleges that the new textbook series for grades K-12, "Investigations in Number, Data and Space," focuses too heavily on conceptual mathematics to the detriment of teaching children basic mathematical procedures.

While the selection process was underway for several years, parental concerns didn't surface publicly until October, first at a series of parent informational meetings held early in the month and later at a regular school board meeting on Oct. 18.

District officials and the board of trustees plan to address parental concerns at the next regular board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the district office at 118 W. Bullion St. in Hailey. The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m.

District Communications Director Heather Crocker said in an interview that the district did not violate state law in the textbook adoption procedure, but acknowledged that the district violated its own policy by not including other district staff, students, parents and community members on the textbook selection committee,

Instead, the selection committee was composed primarily of district math teachers.

Nonetheless, Crocker said, numerous attempts have been made to inform and include the public in the selection process.

"It's something that has been going on for a very long time," Crocker said. "We've been speaking publicly about it for several years. The district made efforts to inform parents through school board meetings, parent meetings, publications and a public textbook review.

"We want to work with parents in every way possible. It's certainly not the district's intent to leave any of these people out of the decision-making process."

Crocker said adoption of the new textbooks is in line with a state of Idaho "math initiative" to teach students to think more in math concepts. She described the new texts as providing a "balance between conceptual and procedural math."

Terry Smith:

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