Community Post

Cliff Mass Article Regarding Seattle School Math Textbooks

I was looking at Cliff Mass’s website for storm info, and came across this article:

Many of you know that I feel strongly about math education and work closely with a group called As a UW professor I have seen declined math abilities of incoming students, and some students can’t follow their dreams of a meteorological career because of poor high school math backgrounds. And my own children have suffered from poor textbooks and math curricula.

The Seattle School District will be making a landmark decision on Wednesday for the selection of high school math texts. Their review panel (which didn’t have a single mathematician or technical professional from the community) is favoring a terrible textbook series (Discovering Algebra and Geometry), which fosters the same “discovery” or “reform” approach that has done so much damage during the past several years. Their second choice (Prentice Hall Algebra and Geometry) is quite good. The Seattle School Board should reject the Discovering Math series if it is to insure Seattle students will get a decent math education. The School Board was split in the last meeting, and they need to hear from concerned citizens before the Wednesday gathering.

I have prepared a youtube video on the subject (;;;feature=channel_page) and more information is available at Please let them know how you feel (emails of school board members below). And those of you outside of Seattle will also be affected if the largest school district in the state goes the wrong way. Thanks for listening…cliff

School Board Directors:
Michael DeBell – [email protected]
Sherry Carr – [email protected]
Harium Martin-Morris – [email protected]
Peter Maier – [email protected]
Cheryl Chow – [email protected]
Steve Sundquist – [email protected]
Mary Bass – [email protected]


0 thoughts on “Cliff Mass Article Regarding Seattle School Math Textbooks

  1. Thanks for dialing into this problem. It is unclear why school administrators (not teachers) are so intoxicated with the Discovery method of teaching math. The humanities equivilent to Discovering Algebra is like showing a student a black man and a river boat and expecting the kid to write the novel Tom Sawyer. Isaac Newton discovered most of the framwork for calculus in addition to tons of other concepts, but seeing an apple fall from a tree wasn’t the tool that constructed his foundations. Students crave fundamental order and rules in mathmatic and even english and they will just not stumble upon existing laws and theorems that Newton and Einstien developed.

  2. I was a student in the Lake Washington School District (class of 2000) when they were transitioning from the old Scott Foresman books to the new “discovery” books.

    The new books and classes were being phased in from the lower grades first, so the students a couple years behind my class were already using them. As we saw the younger students coming into high school, it was so very obvious that they were struggling to learn the material, struggling far more than my class had. Many of the students were younger siblings of people in my class, and we frequently had to tutor and coax them through the work. It was quite aggravating.

    Humans learn best by example; our ability to learn by example is what sets us apart from most animals. We can build upon the learnings of those who have come before, without having to reinvent the wheel every step of the way.

    I wish you the best of luck with your campaign, and hope the district chooses a book that demonstrates math.

  3. Thanks so much for sounding the alarm on this, and for including the e-mail addresses of all members of the Seattle School Board.

    Hope lots of people write to the school board.