Vote for Clarity over Clutter in Texas Math Standards

Apr 10, 2017 by

An Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education: Vote for Clarity over Clutter in Texas Math Standards                                                

April 11, 2017

The State Board of Education (SBOE) can give Texans an awesome example of leadership on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. They can remove the clutter of many unproven yet demanded teaching activities and methodologies from the 2012 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Mathematics.

The Board will vote that day on stripping out “process standards” from the Math TEKS. Those standards specify methods or activities that every student must use in each grade level to show he or she is learning a concept. This stripping action will leave “content standards” that specify math principles and concepts that students are expected to learn. Teachers will finally be free to craft content lessons based on their students’ particular academic needs, not on government-dictated activities.

Focusing on content standards also means 700-page textbooks (for 185 days of teaching) that are filled with writing and drawing activities and methodologies for K-5 classrooms will not be necessary to support mathematics education in Texas.

Board member Ken Mercer pointed out in the November 2016 SBOE meeting that specifying pedagogical methods for teachers has long been prohibited by the Board. That meant these “process standards” should never have been written into the 2012 math standards to begin with. However, it seems the insertion of the process standards was a deliberate attempt to align the new Texas standards with Common Core, even though Texas was one of five states that refused to adopt Common Core Standards.

While Texas House Bill 462 one year later in 2013 forbade the use of Common Core aligned materials by any school district in Texas, the 2012 math standards had already been approved by SBOE with the twisted “similarities” between Texas math standards and Common Core. These similarities were quickly accepted by many education leaders. That provided legal support for the purchase of Common Core aligned materials which included teacher training, curriculum, and testing materials throughout the state. The fact that SB 462 forbade the use of Common Core aligned products and pedagogy became meaningless.

The SBOE can also provide a unique leadership example by making this vote about children, not adult needs. The vote should not be about ideology, political togetherness, or social engineering. It’s not about sustaining a program that just needs more teacher training and “a few years to work.” Those “few years” do not belong to them. Those “few years” belong to the children. It is about their future, not a continued expensive experimentation with unproven programs.

I am asking friends, family, colleagues, and social media groups who believe in classical, solid math education to contact all SBOE members multiple times through April 18 and ask them to vote to strip the “process standards” from our TEKS Mathematics Standards. See the following link: http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Leadership/State_Board_of_Education/Board_Members/SBOE_Members

Sincere thanks are offered to all SBOE members for their service to our state’s present and future citizens through education, the true bedrock of every successful society.

Nakonia (Niki) Hayes,
retired mathematics teacher/principal                                   Waco, TX
nikihayes@att.net

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