Since we have a new GA State School Superintendent, I thought I would provide some information relative to potential changes to the integrated "fuzzy" math program in Georgia. Last November, the citizens in Georgia elected Dr. John Barge as the new GA State School Superintendent. During the election, Dr. Barge repeatedly promised to:
- Return control of local school districts to superintendents, their key staff, and local boards of education.
- SEEK input from and LISTEN to the local school districts of Georgia....citing that he witnessed first-hand the insistence by the GA DOE leadership to implement a math curriculum that local school teachers, districts, and even State Department of Education curriculum specialists pleaded with them not to implement.
- Support the elimination of Math I, Math II, Math III, and Math IV and the restoration of Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus, etc. to distinct courses.
I am pleased to report that at this time it appears that Dr. Barge is planning to follow through with his commitments to the citizens in GA. Some highlights of Dr. Barge's actions to date are as follows:
- December 2010 - Dr. Barge, then Superintendent Elect, formed a Transition Advisory Committee comprised of a diverse group of education professionals, business leaders, citizens, politicians, etc.
- Dr Barge was seeking a group of people who would actively engage in discussion and provide feedback to Dr. Barge and his leadership team.
- Dr. Barge asked this group to bring a list of their top goals for his first year in office. It was no surprise to see that addressing the failed math program was high on almost everyone's list!
- January 2011 - Dr. Barge conducted his first meeting of the Transition Advisory Committee after taking office.
- During this meeting, Dr. Barge demonstrated his ability to listen to committee members by announcing that addressing issues associated with GA's math program was one of his top priorities.
- Dr. Barge was aware of the trouble facing many of the "guinea pig year" students in 11th grade as they near graduation without the math skills necessary to successfully graduate.
- Dr. Barge energized his staff, many appear to be new and motivated, to "act with urgency" to generate a plan that helps the current 11th graders who are struggling to graduate. This is a nice change from the previous administration, where nobody seemed to understand that the math program was failing!
- Dr. Barge announced the formation of a Math Subcommittee. This Subcommittee is focused on the effort required to ensure retention of rigor while implementing a math program that can be successfully utilized by all school boards in GA.
- February 2011 - Dr. Barge held the first meeting of the Math Subcommittee
- Discussed details regarding the challenges facing many of our students in the "guinea pig year", namely our 11th graders.
- Requested feedback relative to his team's ideas to address the immediate problems facing the current 11th graders, as well as beginning to think about long term implementation for high school.
- Request feedback relative to plans to enable local school boards to utilize traditional Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry to meet the "rigorous" standards in existence in GA.
I am pleased to note that I was invited to participate as a member of both the Transition Committee, as well as the Math Subcommittee. While Dr. Barge has only been in office for a couple of months, it appears that he is remaining true to his campaign promises to:
- Provide local school boards with the necessary control to enable them to choose what is right for the students within their district.
- Seek information from, and listen to, constituents and local school districts.
- Support the return of Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, and Calculus as distinct courses while retaining increased rigor.
- I acknowledge that we are early in Dr. Barge's term, and there is much work ahead of his team. But he appears to be moving in the right direction, including looking at data, asking for feedback prior to implementing changes, and most importantly...Acting with Urgency!!
I hope you find this information helpful. As we move forward in Dr. Barge's term, I will keep you informed of the changes. In terms of local action, now is a good time to rally the citizens in your community, and initiate discussions within your own school district and politicians, to ensure that your local school board, government leaders and Superintendent are aware of your expectations to move back toward traditional math programs while retaining the rigor that is in the best interest of the students in GA!!
Thank You for Your Continued Support!!