Thursday, February 11, 2010

Supremacist judge rejects math textbook

An education blog reports:
In what seems like an unusual step by the judiciary, a judge in Washington state has ordered the Seattle school board to reconsider its choice of math materials for high schools across the district, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series," writes Judge Julie Spector from the King County Superior Court in her Feb. 4 decision.

The Seattle newspaper explains that last May, the board implemented a districtwide math curriculum called Discovering Math. Shortly thereafter, two parents and a University of Washington professor went to the King County Superior Court to overturn the board's decision and compel the district to consider other textbook options.
You can get details on the textbooks from the publisher here, and some of the legal documents here.

My initial impression is that these books would probably make for a more interesting class, with a good teacher. But with a lousy teacher, the kids are probably going to do worse on standardized exams.

But this judicial supremacist judge is way out of her league here. Her ruling shows no understanding of the books, except that they are "inquiry-based". There were allegations that they were "mathematically unsound", but she is unable to give an opinion on that. She only says that she finds that, as a matter of law, it was arbitrary and capricious to adopt the textbooks. Or maybe it is a finding of fact, she is not sure.

I guess that what give the court authority to intervene in such a matter is the argument that white kids can learn from an inquiry-based textbook, but that black and non-English-speaking minority kids cannot. Apparently the books are wordier and more colorful than the other books.

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