Common Core math books pass Fayette BoE’s test 4-1

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New math textbooks to be used in the Fayette County School System were approved by a 4-1 vote Monday by the Fayette County Board of Education. The motion also came with a provision that will examine how Fayette students can compete globally and will lead to an opinion that assesses both traditional and integrated math offerings.

The lone dissenting vote in the 4-1 approval came from board member Mary Kay Bacallao, who said her opposition dealt only with the textbook adoption portion of the motion.

Bacallao prior to the vote expressed concerns over the adoption, noting that some of the math skills under the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not being taught at the same grade level as had been done under the previous Ga. Performance Standards.

Several of the math teachers in the audience spoke up, saying those items are taught even if they are not included in a textbook.

“The only thing I want is for these kids to be challenged in math, and if we adopt (the textbooks) we will feed into Common Core and we’ll be behind other countries,” Bacallao said.

Math coordinator Lynn Ridgeway in response said, “Fayette County always writes its own math curriculum. We add to the textbooks. Some grade-level (items) change, but the math is being taught.”

The school board meeting Monday night had 12 people sign up for public comments to weigh in on the proposal. Seven of the speakers were teachers, most of whom served on the textbook adoption committee that recommended the math textbooks. All reiterated their endorsement of the recommendation.

The remaining five speakers were opposed to the math textbook adoption, citing concerns with the Common Core standards for math and English language arts. The math textbooks for grades K-12 were approved by the Ga. Dept. of Education. Common Core standards were adopted by the Ga. State Board of Education in 2010 and classroom implementation began last school year.

One of those speaking in opposition was Charles Bennett, who described himself as being anti-Common Core. Bennett said the math textbooks might not meet the needs of students and suggested the school board “wait and find the books we need.”

Physician John Potts was another opposed to the adoption. Potts maintained that education is best accomplished when it occurs at the local level, not from the national level.

The last math textbook adoption for Fayette County schools was approximately eight years ago.

Incoming Superintendent Jody Barrow, who was at the meeting, agreed that the other two provisions of the motion dealing with an examination of how Fayette students can compete globally and, based on a recommendation by board member Barry Marchman, an assessment of integrated versus traditional math both be reported on at a later date.