School committee recommends new, controversial high school math books

March 4, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

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The Issaquah School District’s Instructional Materials Committee voted Feb. 11 to recommend school board members purchase Discovering Mathematics textbooks.

It is the same recommendation given a year ago.Amid uncertain curricula recommendations at the state level, and push-back from district parents, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen pulled further decision making off the table until better discussions could be had with state officials and families.

In the past year, the district has done just that, said Assistant Superintendent Ron Thiele.

“I will tell any person that I believe we have been incredibly thoughtful in our process and our decision,” Thiele said.

District officials held meetings, gathered surveys and talked to parents and students about the curriculum adoption process and the teachers’ reasoning for choosing it — mainly because it has the best blend of inquiry-based and mastery-based learning to reach all students, Thiele said.

There is controversy surrounding the decision in the wake of a King County Superior Court ruling against Seattle Public Schools for adopting the same curriculum. In that decision, the judge said there is “insufficient evidence for any reasonable board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series.”

District officials have taken the suit very seriously, Thiele said.

“As an associate superintendent, I was shocked by it, because I know Seattle had a very rigorous process,” he said.

The district’s counsel has also looked over the Seattle case and is reviewing its pertinence to Issaquah’s adoption.

Save Math In Issaquah is hosting an informational meeting about the textbooks at 3:15 p.m. March 6 at the Issaquah Library.

“I would recommend people do take the opportunity to look at the instructional materials while on display, but also encourage people to do research on their own about them,” Van Horne said.

Community members can view the materials during normal business hours at the district administration building though March 10.

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