Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Singapore Math in Atlanta: It Really Is Amateur Hour

Yes, I said it - only because I can prove that this really did happen and I am sad to say that it was proof that some great schools make unbelievably horrible choices.

On one extremely cold and rainy day in Atlanta, I stopped by one of my favorite Tea Shops off of Ponce De Leon Avenue and was preparing for an Orton-Gillingham/Admission Preparation tutoring session with the son of a sweet family friend. (Yes, this is a picture of him when I brought him to a store to pick out a LEGO because he is doing such a great job reading. I would never identify him because that's not why I'm writing this post - but he was the "Caped Crusader on this day).

I was cutting and stapling an assortment of materials and I could not help but be in awe of two teachers who were having a discussion on what I thought was a PhD Dissertation topic. The conversation was along the lines of: "How do you know when a child is struggling in a topic? Are all children with poor grades unable to grasp that subject?"

It hit me, I thought that I was on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and was brought to this particular Tea House to answer this question and win a chance to help a person with their dissertation paper. Sadly, I was mistaken about the motive for them asking that question and when they revealed to me that they run the Student Support Services for a Charter School in Atlanta, I thought I was about to faint. How can a school, fully funded and armed with a cavalry of staff and resources, not be able to help students with Math?

In talking with these ladies that "run" the department, I was taken aback by their lack of experience and/or insight on the process of helping students. After invisibly shaking my head, I gave them some anecdotal stories of how parents at their charter school run into my office and beg for assistance in understanding this curriculum that for some reason, is being taught by individuals who have a degree that is as close to Math as Physics is to Classical Music. When they asked me how I knew of the school I told her that they were one of the schools that several of my clients had been excited about attending, but now that they have a lopsided approach to teaching (they have actually told parents that the children will receive a great education in everything but... math) and that their administration has the compromising abilities that are the equivalent to a five year old, I see little to no change in Professional Development.

If a school says that they use a program, please make sure that it is not a year of Curriculum Experimentation where your child will fall victim in their first or second year implementing the program. It is important that with any transition, you find the proper support in assisting your child with understanding the background and concepts that are associated with the curriculum.

If your child is at a school where they are implementing a math program that is different from what they have used in the past and are struggling, please feel free to email: or you can call me at (404)964-8533.

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