Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Board OKs adoption of math textbooks

Community members argue to keep current books

June 17, 2004

Baldwin School Board members went with the district's recommendation and approved the adoption of new mathematics text books, despite pleas from a few community members, including a former student, to continue using the current books.

Curriculum Director Connie Wehmeyer told the school board at Monday's meeting her recommendation was to purchase a new series of math textbooks for approximately $37,500 for grades six through 12.

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Wehmeyer said new books are needed, especially in the high school, because the current books have been rebound so many times, it can't be done further without losing some of the content.

She said five different series of math textbooks were given to the junior high and high school math teachers to evaluate as part of the selection process. The Baldwin Junior High School teachers, she said, unanimously endorsed the McDougal Littell Larson series. The Baldwin High School teachers selected the current book, the McDougal Littell Brown series, as their No. 1 choice, followed by the Larson series.

Wehmeyer said the high school teachers ranked the current Brown series over the Larson series because they thought the Larson book didn't have as many rigorous problems as the Brown book, and the pages were too cluttered with text and pictures.

But Wehmeyer said she recommended selecting the junior high's top pick for several reasons, including the fact the Brown series did not have a current copyright or supply online support technology.

She said the newer Larson book made real life connections and integrated information from other content areas like science, art and geography.

"In every section, in every piece of the book, it connects to careers and how it relates to what I can do with the knowledge I've gained," she said.

The Larson series, she said, also comes with a personal tutorial as well as a link to a Web site, which offers more math problems and other learning tools for students.

But Kate Lammers, a 2003 BHS graduate, didn't agree with Wehmeyer.

During the time for audience comments, Lammers told the board members she believed the district should continue using the Brown series, which is more challenging and provides a better education than the Larson series.

She said she thought the district should listen to its math teachers and their recommendations.

"We have a very strong high school math curriculum and a very strong high school math faculty," she said. "I can't emphasize how important it is to take the advice of our math faculty."

Another audience member agreed with Lammers.

Jill Robbs, who has substituted in the Baldwin math classes and taught math for several years in another district, said she had seen the recommendations and thought the district should listen to its faculty.

"If the faculty is pleased with the textbooks," she said, "well, I just want the teachers who are teaching to be happy with what they are teaching with."

Wehmeyer said the Larson series provided a number of opportunities to help students in their learning process, but it was important to remember education didn't just rely on a textbook.

"This is a resource," she said. "This is not a curriculum. A book is not a curriculum. This is a resource to help teach the curriculum. We are not changing the rigor of the curriculum."

Supt. James White said he felt like the proper research had been done in picking a book and was confident in the selections.

"I certainly concur with the recommendation to buy the books," he said.

There was little discussion from board members before they unanimously approved the adoption of the books in a 5-0 vote. Board President Ed Schulte and Board Member Alison Bauer were absent from Monday's meeting.

In other business, the school board:

  • Approved in a 5-0 vote the language arts and health curriculum recommended by the district.
  • Approved in a 5-0 vote a high school band trip to Orlando in November.
  • Met in executive session. Following executive session the board approved in a 5-0 vote a 2.5-percent salary increase for classified and administrative personnel.

The board also approved the resignations of Tamara Dunstan as Marion Springs Elementary School first grade teacher and Alice Rockhold as Vinland Elementary School assistant cook.

Employment recommendations were also unanimously approved as follows: Tamara Reineman, MSES first grade teacher; Tamara Johnson, MSES fourth/fifth grade teacher; Marilee Valentine, BJHS social studies teacher; Heath Cooper, BHS science teacher and head basketball coach; Rachel Buckley, part-time BHS language arts teacher; Bonnie Butell-Huntoon, part-time BHS language arts teacher; Jim Oatman, BHS head volleyball coach; Joyce Tallman, BHS student council sponsor; Lynn Henderson, bus driver.

The meeting was recessed until 7 p.m. June 28 at the district office.

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