Each side of the Algebra I duel — Superintendent Jack O’Connell and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — sent out an e-mail blast today with quotes bolstering their respective positions.
Schwarzenegger’s office titled its blast “What They’re Saying… About the Governor’s Support for Algebra I in 8th grade.”
A few hours later, O’Connell’s camp sent its own press release headlined, “What Educators Are Saying…”
Here’s what Schwarzegger’s supporters had to say about the governor’s courageous leadership:
EdVoice Board Co-Chair Eli Broad: “Governor Was Willing To Take The Bold Step On The Path Less Traveled.”
California Business For Education Excellence: Governor Shows “Bold Leadership.”
Former State Board Of Education President Yvonne Larson “Applauds The Governor’s Leadership.”
Edison International Chairman And Chief Executive Officer John E. Bryson: Governor “Is To Be Commended.” “As a major California employer, SCE understands and appreciates the importance of a well-trained and educated workforce.”
California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed Joins The Governor In Urging The State Board Of Education To Adopt Algebra I As The Mathematics Standard.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Diane Woodruff: “I Agree With The Governor.” “Overwhelming research has shown that Algebra is the gateway skill to success in both the workforce and in college.”
South Bay Association Of Chambers Of Commerce Chair Helen Duncan: “By Elevating Our Skills For The Next Generation, We Increase Job Opportunities For Our Local Community.”
Orange County Business Council: “Governor Is Taking Key Step Towards Securing Prosperity.”
Fresno Deputy Mayor Jeff Eben: “I Am Pleased To Support The Governor And His Efforts.”
We noted a glaring omission among the responders. There was a lack of input from teachers, principals, or district leaders.
Therefore, we wanted to supplement the Governor’s document with what educators are saying.
Steven Weinberg, Instructional Facilitator, Frick Middle School (Oakland): “More than half of our students come to us in the sixth grade Below Basic or Far Below Basic in Math. Very few of those students are prepared to succeed in Algebra I at the eighth grade level. So being forced to place all students in that class, without regard to their level of preparation, would lead to an increase in the number of students who both fail eighth grade Algebra I and are not ready to succeed in Algebra I in the ninth grade either.”
Kathy Woods, President, California Mathematics Council: “It is intellectually dishonest for the state to ask students to be tested on academic content that they have not studied.”
Christopher J. Steinhauser, Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent: “Experience has told us that not all students are ready to take Algebra at the same time, and a one-size-fits-all approach unfairly punishes students, often those who need our help the most.”
Jeff Hearn, Superintendent, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District: “Developmentally, many students are not ready to successfully take on the Algebra I curriculum.”
Dan Fendel, Professor of Mathematics (emeritus), San Francisco State University: “At the present time, many thousands of students are already enrolled prematurely in Algebra I and the failure rate is horrendous. The Governor’s plan would make this situation even worse.”
Stephen McCahon, math teacher, Pioneer High School: “We have a lot of students who take Algebra I in the eighth grade, and then they repeat it in ninth grade. A lot of students aren’t ready for that level of math.”
Chuck Weis, Santa Clara County Schools Chief: “You need to lay the groundwork if you’re going to make this kind of policy shift. We need to invest in the teaching of mathematics at the lower grade levels.”
image from crowolf’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons