Better yet, start a really, really big committee guaranteed to be positively paralyzed by procedure. How big? Big. Forty-four people big. That’s the size of the new MCPS K-12 Mathematics Joint Work Group. (And I thought the AEI Advisory Committee on Accelerated and Enriched Instruction was bad!) You can check out the membership here.
A K-12 Mathematics Joint Work Group has been established to develop a comprehensive plan for strengthening the mathematics program in Montgomery County Public Schools. The goal is to improve the achievement of all students in mathematics systemwide.
Dr. Frieda K. Lacey, deputy superintendent of schools, convened the first meeting of the work group on January 15, 2009. The 40-member multi-stakeholder team includes representatives from the employee associations, teachers, principals, supporting services staff, and central services staff. Parents also serve on the team, including representatives from MCCPTA and the NAACP.
The work group will gather input from staff, students, and parents, identify issues and concerns, research scientifically-based practices, benchmark exemplary models, and analyze data on the current state of mathematics in MCPS from January through October. Initial recommendations and next steps will be developed and presented to Dr. Lacey in December.
Never heard of it? Not surprising. Although it commenced business on January 15, and has met subsequently (February 11, February 25, March 11), it was only formally announced by MCCPTA on March 16 (above is the text that was sent out), MCCPTA reps already firmly in place. Oh there were rumors on listservs as early as March 9. And at the Jay Mathews talk on March 10th I overheard an elementary school teacher say that he had heard of some kind of big math committee thing forming. But it only trickled down to my local elementary school on March 24–and then only because another plugged-in mom who no longer has kids at the school forwarded it. After the posting a mom immediately responded to ask if there were these kinds of groups for strengthening “arts, music, liberal arts and science programs” and if anyone knew who to contact or what to do to promote the advancement of these important areas? Radio silence on the listserv. I’ve followed up with her to see if anyone every contacted her directly. [Update: no one has, privately or publicly.]
My purpose is not to criticize this particular school’s PTA. I cite it because I think this is fairly typical of how out-of-the-loop most parents are about these things. And that there probably are parents who might have liked to serve on this Mathematics Joint Work Group who never had a chance. Yet MCPS can check the “parent representation” box because it talked to MCCPTA, who talks to few.
Finally, what is the Work Group supposed to accomplish? Good question. Despite the word “Work” my bet, and the bet of others is “little to nothing.” MCPS is just fine with its math instruction, which gives the appearance of ever increasing achievement. But in the face of embarrassing op-eds and news stories featuring teachers not toeing the party line and a growing chorus of parent complaints (search “math” on this blog), they have to do something to create the pretense of stakeholder involvement. Hence the Work Group.
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