Math Petitions to Be Presented to Penfield (NY) Board of Education

Press Release, April 26, 2005

On Tuesday, April 26th, the parent group "Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs" will present a petition to the Penfield Board of Education requesting that all students in Penfield Public Schools have the choice of a traditional math program. The meeting will be held at Penfield High School at 7 PM in Room G-018.

This parent group, consisting of 70 active members, was formed in January 2005 in response to changes in the math program that started in Penfield in 1999. The new math programs, sometimes referred to as "reformed math", are called TERC Investigations in the elementary schools, Connected Math in the middle school, and Core Plus in the High School.

More than 600 residents (18 years of age or older) have signed the petition. The Penfield Math petition states:

"We, the undersigned, state that the Investigations, Connected Math, and Core Plus Math programs, recently implemented in the Penfield School District, do not teach the fundamental math skills that children must know to succeed in furthering their education. We therefore ask that a traditional math program be offered as a choice for all Penfield students."

Traditional math refers to teaching methods in which concepts are taught, examples are given, then students would be asked to work on sample problems. Supplemental information regarding this issue has been attached.

Contact: Bill Munch
Founder, "Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs"
1 Peabody Circle
Penfield, NY 14526
H: 388-1322
W(Kodak): 722-1886

The new "reformed" math program is based on a philosophy of teaching referred to as "constructivism." The basic idea is that you do not teach students basic skills, but rather have students figure out how to do the math on their own. The reformed math programs starts in elementary school, and continues through pre-Calculus in High School. As parents, our experiences tell us that students learn more slowly and learn less material with the new math program. A real limitation of this method of teaching is not only are basic concepts not taught, but there is almost no reference material if you do get stuck.

The problem with this method of teaching is that students never master the basic skills such as multiplication in elementary school, since the reformed math methods have such a strong dependence on calculators. Memorization of multiplication tables, parents are told, is called "drill and kill" and will make students lose interest in mathematics. What actually happens, though, is that once students get into middle school, they don't have the basic number sense needed to understand algebra and geometry. Then, by high school with weak algebra and geometry skills, students are lost and not prepared for college math.

A big problem is that this new reformed math program that is being pushed by Penfield School administrators, yet many Penfield Parents have a real problem with this method of teaching. In many cases, to make up for what is missing, Penfield parents are tutoring at home, paying for tutoring, or in the most severe cases, they have put their students into private schools. Also, this issue is so severe that many Penfield parents when asked by potential homebuyers are saying that they should buy homes in districts that don't have this reformed math program.

The protest of these reformed math programs, sometimes referred to as "Math Wars", is going on across the United States in city after city, typically because parents see their students not learning basic math skills.

Here are some example comments that Penfield parents have said about this program:

* I have written a letter of dissatisfaction with Penfield's math program, but I did not get a response.

BILL MUNCH Founder, "Parents Concerned with Penfield's Math Programs"

[Please see also Presentation of a Mathematics Petition to Penfield Board of Education, by Bill Munch. Contact information:]

For more about the Penfield, NY, Mathematics curriculum controversy please visit Parents Concerned With Penfield's Math Programs and see the NYC HOLD summary page Controversy over Mathematics in Penfield, NY, Public Schools.

Return to the New York City HOLD main page, the NYC HOLD News page, or the NYC HOLD Letters and Testimony page.