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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

U-46 math curriculum ratified despite debate

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved three curriculum proposals, but two came with dissent on Monday, Nov. 20.
  A proposed geometry bridge course, designed for high school freshmen who scored in the 30th percentile or below on the MAP tests, received a 5-2 vote, Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voting no. An AP Physics 1 course, with a total estimated cost of $266,090 for resources and an ongoing cost of $1,575 a year for professional development, was approved 6-1, Ward voting no.
  The geometry course imbeds some algebra principles in the course according to the administration to prepare students for Algebra 1-2 to be taken in the sophomore year. The course did not have an estimated cost with no specific resource chosen yet, but staff provided, within the proposal, some supplementary resources currently being used in math classes as examples.
  One of those resources is Yummy Math which Ward made social media postings showing math lessons that had little, if anything, to do with math and having more to do with political lessons on things such as climate change to Christopher Columbus.
  “Math should not be about man-made global warming, cow flatulence, the politics of banning Big Gulp drinks, how Columbus was horrible or about the glories of honoring labor unions,” Ward said. “Math should be about math.”
  The administration said the resources were included in the proposal because “teachers were trying to be helpful and sharing free resources,” and Ward asked if the biased resources could be removed from the proposal since they were not being purchased by the district thus allowing her to vote for the proposal. Ward said “administration declined to remove the resource from the curriculum document.”
  Rick Newton, who said he was a “math major in college,” said during public comments he was “deeply concerned and disgusted” by the Yummy Math resource but was not surprised it would be used in U-46.
  “My lack of surprise is based upon the all too often bias of our academic leadership that refuses to differentiate between education and indoctrination,” Newton said.
  One of the lessons from the resources stated “we’ve got flatulence humor, percentage calculations and global warming education in this activity” while another promoted bans on sugary drinks about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked why he “tried to make it illegal to sell sodas larger than 16 ounces?”
  Newton said: “Beside from having nothing to do with math, do you think that the intended answer would be that (Bloomberg’s) a full-fledged socialist who seems to have no value for individual freedom and would rather subject all citizens to a nanny state that oversees everything we do? Somehow, I don’t believe that’s what the authors intended, but maybe they should have.”
  Noting the plethora of examples from a math resource that had nothing to do with math, Newton also said in the classes where these issues should be discussed “we should allow and teach students to develop opinions of their own” and the one-sided resources are “deceitful and detrimental.”
  Board member Sue Kerr, who voted for the proposal, said “any parent who does not like a particular resource has the right to request something different.”
  On the AP Physics 1 course, which plans to use Addison Wesley’s “College Physics: A Strategic Approach” as its textbook, Ward said the resources presented bias in regards to climate change claiming “man-made global warming is established scientific fact with no opposing viewpoint.”
  A computer science proposal to establish two new courses, AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A, was approved 7-0. The total cost for resources is estimated at $584,875, which includes a notebook computer for each student, with an ongoing cost of $15,393.
  On the resources, Ward said: “I found it to be excellent. It was balanced, and there was one section… which had a very thoughtful discussion on the social and ethical issues related to information technology. I thought that was fantastic.”
  Also receiving unanimous votes were a proposal approving the Installment Purchase Agreement for the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) to go towards the Bartlett High School sports complex, a five-year contract with Cenergistic to seek energy savings and $7.6 million in itemized bills. The QZAB totals $466,270.
  Jeff King, chief operating officer, said regarding the QZAB that “our interest charge will be 0.25 percent,” but there is a 4.09 percent interest charge “that the federal government will be giving.” Ward noted “we’re taking out the bonds, but it’s going to be paid back” by the Bartlett Boosters Club which King said the district received a letter from stating “they would raise funds and do that.”
  King called the Cenergistic’s proposal an “efficiency contract.” He said “if we reduce our expenditures, then the company… will get a percentage of those savings,” and Cenergistic would provide three of its own employees to check all district buildings and their energy systems.
  There is a cost of $59,988 for software while Cenergistic will receive 50 percent of any savings achieved. The estimated savings over the five years is $4.4 million.

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