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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spokane board adopts Holt Mathematics

On March 24, shortly after 10 p.m., the board of Spokane Public Schools voted to adopt Holt Mathematics as its new high school math program. The vote was 4-1, with the president, Sue Chapin, casting the only "nay" vote.

This is a positive step in the right direction for the students in this district. They have been waiting for a decade. I want to say to the students, "I'm sorry it has taken so long. I feel your pain. I know you have suffered. But I believe you will be happier with this book. It has most of the things you asked for - examples, explanations, descriptions, details, directions, tips & hints, instruction, clarity, 'real math,' definitions, procedures, answers, online help, videos, support materials, and helpful visuals. It will help prepare you for life after school, whether you go to college, begin a trade, start your own business, or just want to run your personal lives more effectively."

To the parents, I want to say, "I believe you will be much happier with this book. It has most of the things you asked for, too - clarity, examples, instructions, structure and 'real math.' You will be able to help your children. Your children will be able to help themselves. Please step away from any negativity you might hear and give the Holt program a chance. I think you'll appreciate it."

To the teachers, I want to say, "I know this book represents a change from what you've had for the last decade. I know you have been beat to death with reform and discovery, and when the result was a 42.3% pass rate on the 2009 10th-grade math WASL, you were blamed. I think you will find that the Holt program helps you, helps the students, and helps the parents. This is NOT a 'traditional' book from the 1940s. It is a balanced book. Some people want to scare you off of this book by saying it removes all of the conceptual learning, but this is not so. This book does contain discovery, application and conceptual learning. But room has been made in this book for actual content, and your students will benefit. The publishers have spent a lot of time developing support for you, including a good teacher text, online resources, examples, tests, and lab work. I hope you will give this program a chance."

To the school board, I want to say, "'Thank you,' especially to Dr. Jeff Bierman, who helped shepherd this process through the gate. I know you're all getting mixed messages from people, and that it's difficult sometimes to sort out the best action. This is a good thing you have done for almost 30,000 students. It will require follow-through. Students need more than this - like a better curriculum for K-8 so that they head into Holt Mathematics prepared. But this is a positive step in the right direction. You can feel proud of this vote. I am proud of you."

To the administrators who organized the high school math adoption committee, I want to say, "Thank you for allowing me to participate. Thank you for giving parents, students and teachers a voice in this particular adoption. It's been a long time coming, and every person who participated appreciated the opportunity. I hope you will continue to allow parents a voice. It is, after all, our children that all of this is for."

To the math and science professionals, and the math and literacy advocates who are so generous with their time, expertise and work, I want to say, "'Thank you,' especially to the folks with 'Where's the Math?' The last three years were a steep learning curve for me, and I couldn't have continued to advocate for these children without you. There is a special place in heaven for those who spend their days fighting for a better education for our children. It's an often-thankless task with many setbacks and few rewards. On the rare occasion we do get somewhere, we have done an immeasurably good thing for our children, our community, and our country. Many of you risk your jobs to be advocates. Many of you fight on, even though the decision-makers around you reject everything you say. Still, you share your heart, your time and your work with the rest of us. I appreciate you."

To my husband and daughter, I want to say, "Thank you for your patience, kindness, love and support. 222-222-2222 x infinity."

Onward, folks, to the K-8 math curriculum. Let's get it done.

Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:Rogers, L. (March, 2010). "Spokane board adopts Holt Mathematics." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site:


Anonymous said...


Breann said...

And to you, Laurie, I want to say, "Thank you!" You fought a hell of a battle and the difference will be clear in time. Spokane's families may never know they owe you a debt of gratitude. But I do!

concerned said...

We use the Holt Series in my school and it's great! The parents and students will really like the online support at home, and teachers will definitely appreciate all of instructional resources!



Anonymous said...

Wow! I wish it were this easy in some other districts. But having parents vote out curriculum is what its going to take to get districts to pay attention. Mount Vernon did this a decade ago and it cost the superintendent and the principal both their jobs.

You are absolutely correct about the elementary and middle school adoptions - those have to be addressed. Otherwise, you will find a huge gap between middle school competency and high school proficiency. This is what caused schools to get into a jam in the first place.

The order is reversed and it was intentionally done to confuse the uninformed. That way the piloted program benefited from the earlier successes of the preceding programs in the lower grade levels. Publishers benefited by constantly retooling their products for districts.

When a district correctly implements new curriculum, it should be started in the first grade with each textbook added the following year.

Had the developers correctly established criteria for problem selection and used parent and student inputs, none of what we see happening in schools would be occurring.

Believe it or not, we have studies of successful textbook adoptions that were done because the programs were so popular with parents and students.

I can only hope Spokane will follow our advice and implement popular change versus the yellow brick road we have all grown accustomed too.

Anonymous said...


I briefly had to teach with "reform" texts and it's very difficult. Not only are they difficult to use, but they're difficult to supplement as well because the sequence of topics is different from almost every well-written textbook.

I haven't seen the Holt texts so I don't know specifically how good they are, but as long as they're not "fuzzy math" - YAY!