Judge Sends Seattle Back to Drawing Board on Math Materials

By Erik W. Robelen — February 10, 2010 1 min read
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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.

The plaintiffs argued that the curricular materials would do more harm than good by widening the achievement gap between middle-class and underprivileged children, the Seattle paper explained.

In her opinion, the judge noted that a review last year conducted for the state board of education found the Discovering Series, published by Key Curriculum Press, to be “mathematically unsound.”

The school district, in a press release, said it expected to appeal the ruling: “This is a very surprising decision, and the district is now evaluating its next steps. Seattle Public Schools followed an extensive process in adopting these materials, which were thoroughly vetted by a diverse group, including mathematicians and teaching professionals.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.