PA Coalition for World Class Math

            Willoughby-Eastlake Schools’ Everyday Math continues to draw ire (5/10/2011)

Willoughby-Eastlake Schools’ Everyday Math continues to draw ire
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011

By Max Reinhart

The Willoughby-Eastlake School Board continues to take heat for its current math curriculum which utilizes the program known as Everyday Math.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Tim O’Keeffe, a parent of three students in the district and a strong opponent of the program, brought up concerns that Everyday Math and similar math programs might not fall in line with new state standards.

“What I want the board to understand is that Everyday Math, and all constructivist math, by their very nature, are at odds with the new common core state standards,” O’Keeffe said.

According to the standards’ website, the initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by a pair of nonprofit organizations SEmD the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

In contrast to Everyday Math, which emphasizes abstract concepts like rounding and estimating, the common core state standards insist on a “clear, understandable and consistent” approach to teaching and learning math, according to the website.

O’Keeffe said he’s been after the board for months and has yet to hear a satisfactory answer on why the district uses the program, which it adopted in 2006.

“If they truly look at what it is and do their due diligence, they could see how destructive Everyday Math is,” O’Keeffe said. “From the very start it’s felt like we’ve been backhanded. I don’t think they’re interested in digging into this.”

District officials said a decision on the future of the district’s math curriculum will be made before the start of the 2011-12 school year as the district’s math committee reviews several possible textbook publishers.

Officials also said district math teachers will have the final vote on whether to continue Everyday Math or move to a different program.

Meanwhile, parents like O’Keeffe and Deb Ganim, who also tutors students and is a former Willoughby-Eastlake substitute teacher, continue to see their children through a math program they call “destructive.”

Ganim said her daughter is nervous about moving up to middle school and having to learn more unfamiliar concepts and tools with Everyday Math.

“She’s very apprehensive about moving up to sixth grade,” Ganim said.

“She’s hearing things like, ‘forget everything you spent the past five years learning in math class because you won’t be using it anymore.’ “

O’Keeffe and Ganim said the lack of feedback they’ve gotten from the school has them worried that the district will continue using a system that is a burden for teachers and students alike.

“Using this program just because other districts are using it isn’t a good enough answer,” Ganim said.