State supe unveils algebra plan

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell unveiled his “Algebra I Success Initiative” today in response to the state Board of Education’s recent decision to require all eighth-graders to take Algebra I starting in three years.

O’Connell opposed the decision but said in a statement that “given the State Board’s decision, I believe it is imperative we focus on ensuring our students are now given the resources they need to successfully reach this mandate.”

His plan calls for $3.1 billion in state funding to lower seventh- and eighth-grade math class sizes, increase instructional time, expand afterschool and weekend tutorial programs, provide professional development and instructional materials to teachers, and recruit and retain quality instructors, among other things.

Fremont math teacher Edie Birbeck has taught for 20 years and says she’s opposed to forcing algebra down the throats of students who aren’t developmentally ready to master the concepts. She’s also skeptical about pouring more money into professional development. As she sees it, teachers already are trained, but if a) class sizes are too large and b) students just aren’t ready for algebra, the latest state mandate is doomed for failure.

You can read more comments from local educators in tomorrow’s Argus. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts about the eighth-grade Algebra I mandate.

image from Bubblesthepiggy’s site at flickr.com.

Linh Tat


  1. This top-down, one-size-fits-all management by politicians completely ignorant of pedagogy has completely ruined our schools. When they start listening to the teachers then maybe we’ll get somewhere, but by then all the good ones will have quit or taken early retirement to escape the insanity.

    This penalizes the struggling kids who are not ready for algebra, and the advanced ones who get bored and ignored.

    In a sound bite: No Child Left Behind and its supporters are leaving all children behind.

  2. That sound bite was conceived, optimized and marketed by our own California teachers unions. And we are all aware of the stellar job California was doing before No Child Left Behind.

  3. From my experience, NCLB has eviscerated our schools. The focus is on readying the unready for state tests instead of teaching what kids are ready for. Things are so awful, I’m strongly considering homeschooling.

    And the message was conceived, optimized(?), and marketed(?) by me.

  4. Jon, I’m ambivalent, and can live with or without the No Child Left Behind Act. I do understand the act’s shortcomings. But I wont allow teachers -present, on leave or retired- claim that California’s education system was on a path other than one of dismal failure before 2001. NCLB may have masked the problem, or accelerated the decline. You pick. But one thing if for sure, and that is our public school problems are far more complex than an ignorant “sound bite”.

  5. NCLB has been a complete and utter disaster, there is question about it. Any future without NCLB is a brighter one!

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