Publication date - Wednesday, September 8, 1999


Parents' demands should carry weight

Sue Sarhady is a Plano resident.


I am responding to Friday's opinion piece that alleged the Connected Math flap is only about sour grapes. Well, it's never been about sour grapes, but it has always been about the fundamental right of parents (under federal and state statute) to direct the education of their child.

As to the assertion that parents had plenty of chances for input, I submit the following: I went to three of the informational meetings held by Plano Independent School District and never got "called on" to share my input. The Citizen's Textbook Advisory Committee reviewed all the math textbooks prior to adoption. Its report was never made public. Well, guess what! The parents on that committee charged with reviewing Connected Math came out squarely against it. The Blue Ribbon Committee report was a propaganda ploy from the start. The members already had been chosen before the formation of the committee was announced. And if you read the whole report, you'll note they did not endorse Connected Math. In fact, they had some very serious reservations about the program.

I agree that the math program in use in our middle schools up until Connected Math was chosen was not rigorous enough. But it is precisely the same educational professionals who chose that one who have now shoved Connected Math down our throats. Well, the educational professionals in more than 1,000 districts in Texas must be misguided, because they did not choose Connected Math. There is absolutely no reputable research available that proves Connected Math is more rigorous; to the contrary, the experience of Californians with programs like Connected Math would seem to indicate the opposite.

The time for trusting the education elite is long gone. Open classrooms, the "new math," whole language, invented spelling and many more failed programs were proposed by the educational elite. I resent the implication that, because I am just a parent, I cannot possibly know what should be taught to my children. If the truth be told, we must admit that the public education system as a whole, has been a failure. America's students are no longer competitive in math and science when compared to students from other industrialized nations. SAT scores have actually been falling since the 1970s. Texas students rank closer to the bottom than the top when compared with students across the nation. And conveniently, PISD has done away with administering all but a couple of national achievement tests, so comparing our district to others across the nation is extremely difficult. In all sorts of places across the country, schools systems are looking outside the educational establishment for leadership because maintaining the status quo just isn't working anymore.

Parents, it is time to get involved and demand accountability. Accountability to the taxpayers. It is time to demand a vote in the decision-making process. Our children are too important. Join me at the next school board meeting, and the next and the next. We need to be watching and asking questions.