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MP Residents Wants Math Modules Thrown Out

Parents complain that the district's new math modules are too confusing and need to be changed.

Neal Hymowitz addressing the board
Neal Hymowitz addressing the board

Parents spoke for over two hours at a board meeting on Oct. 30 asking the Miller Place Board of Education to consider changing the implementation of the common core curriculum.

Although parents seem on board with the common core standards, many complained that the modules, also known as lesson plans, that are being used to teach students are too confusing, that parents can’t even understand them.

As part of the implementation of Common Core, the New York State Education Department provided curriculum modules for both ELA and math that can be adopted or adapted locally in a district. Miller Place has chosen to adapt the modules and use them as a new teaching method for students. However, parents say this new way of teaching is not working, specifically for the math classes.

Janine Scheuermann, Miller Place resident and special education teacher in Half-Hollow Hills, said her second grade twin daughters, who have always excelled, are now tanking due to the modules.

“It takes us a really long time to sit with our second graders and do math. They are struggling…this is a kid who loved school and I am upset because this is a kid who wanted to be a special education teacher and now no more,” said Scheuermann. 

“My daughter got a 6 out of 17 on an exam. I wrote the teacher a note and I didn’t get a response. Then I went into my daughter’s backpack, she hid it, saying she would do better. This is very sad. I am asking if there could be a change.”

Sound Beach resident, Michelle Grant, agreed saying the district needs to throw out the modules. “I am unable to help my daughter do her math homework. I came here tonight because of the increasing frustration with not being able to help her with her homework and the energy and effort that has gone into that,” said Grant.

“I don’t understand any of the modules…I don’t know what to ask of the board except to speak out as a parent and a community member to ask for something.”

Also voicing his opinion was Sound Beach resident, Neal Hymowitz, who said the new teaching method is killing the children. “Tonight my daughter had to do [homework] where she had to figure out the ratio between ounces of coke and the amount of sugar in it. She figured it out in two seconds because she knows from us showing her the real way to do math,” said Hymowitz.

“Then she had to draw this double number line thing and extrapolate it out on the side of the page and zoom in on a subset, to show her work the proper way…this doesn’t make sense we need to make a change now and not wait until next year.”

Superintendent Marianne Higuera addressed the communities concerns. “I have taken notes, I think all of us up here have. We understand your frustration and we share some of that. We are working on this and figuring this out as you are. I too have an MBA and did not know what number bonds were before September,” said Higuera. “We don’t expect to have all of the answers here tonight…but we will be discussing the comments we heard.”

Board president Michael Unger thanked the community for their comments and said the board has a lot to digest. “Tonight we wanted to sit back and listen to what the community had to say,” said Unger.  “There were a lot of great suggestions and we will have to see what is possible and what is not.”

Candace Lindemann November 01, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Thank you for highlighting the concerns voiced at the meeting. The math modules are a particular flashpoint of frustration but they are not the only issue--excessive testing, cost of implementation, ELA curricula, use of exam results in placement, stress on the students...all were raised as concerns, as well. Several parents, including myself, did express support of some of the stated goals of the CC (depth of understanding and conceptual approaches) and the idea of "rigor" but I don't think that means parents are "on board" with the CC...at least it doesn't mean that for me. No one is against complex thinking or higher standards but there are some fundamental problems with the CC itself.
Justin Time November 02, 2013 at 06:57 AM
The education system is getting too sofisticated in their methods teaching of students. Obviously the new program was approved by the parents, prior to being accepted in the school....at least I asssss..ume it was. Where were all the parents who protested the startup in the beginning? Same old story...complain AFTER the fact..now live with it!
Mark Blaha November 02, 2013 at 07:58 AM
FYI- The CC curriculum was implemented by the DOE and was not " approved" by parents,.CC started during the financial crisis when school districts needed money, as with many new programs ( Obamacare) it takes awhile to be accepted- It seems however there are fundamental issues with CC- and all we can do is continue to voice our opinions and do what we can to help the kids
Candace Lindemann November 02, 2013 at 08:15 AM
You assume incorrectly. The standards were corporate written, tied to federal programs, and adopted by Albany. Parents and educators were opposing the standards even before the implementation. Implementation started two years ago at the primary level in our district and parents objected at that time, though media coverage was lacking. Last year, the two top vote-getters in the MP BOE election included objections to the excessive testing that is part of CC implementation in their platforms. Parents are not given pre-approval of curricular changes. In fact, the current NY State math modules around which the objections were focused on 10/30 weren't even fully written by the first day of school. We are all seeing them for the first time as of September 2013. They are confusing, arbitrary, developmentally inappropriate, and riddled with errors. Why wouldn't we object to those by bringing our concerns to the board meeting? The reason you are finally seeing coverage is that the NY State Commissioner of Education finally held town square meetings (and was frightened away by the vehemence of parent opposition), NY State representatives are finally responding to our concerns, principals and superintendents in other districts are finally publicly objecting, and locally our own BOE just held a meeting to present the CC to parents.
Lisa November 02, 2013 at 09:02 AM
Parents are not on board with common core. There are some good things that children can benefit from but there are areas of common core that are developmentally inappropriate for children. No one is saying they are afraid of rigor, but this whole package of common core implementation and high stakes testing was shoved down the school district's throats. If you really research what is happening in our public schools you will see that the changes are not about educating our children but rather putting money in the pockets if certain individuals and corporations.

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