BoE to consider buying Common Core math books
by Haisten Willis
May 23, 2014 04:00 AM | 4268 views | 17 17 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Ragsdale (MDJ/File)
Chris Ragsdale (MDJ/File)
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MARIETTA — Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale plans to ask the Cobb Board of Education on June 11 to consider an estimated $7 million purchase of math textbooks and resources.

The topic of math textbooks has been a controversial one for the school board.

In April 2013, the board voted 4-3 to reject spending $7.5 million on math textbooks aligned with the Common Core national standards.

Board members who voted against buying the materials were Kathleen Angelucci, Tim Stultz, Randy Scamihorn and Brad Wheeler.

Supporters of Common Core say the initiative creates a consistent set of education standards across the country, proving helpful, for example, to military families when they move from one state to the next.

Yet critics view Common Core as a federal assault on local control. Some believe while the “one-size-fits-all” set of standards helps students at underperforming schools, it lowers the standards at high-achieving ones.

Last July, after months of arguing, the board authorized a scaled-down version of math resources for kindergarten through 12th grades, spending $2.9 million on the purchase. In addition to the lower cost, the $2.9 million version was composed of digital resources with the exception of advanced courses unaffiliated with Common Core.

Scamihorn and Angelucci said at the time that with an effort underway in the Georgia Legislature to withdraw the state from Common Core, the board shouldn’t risk spending millions on books that could be rendered obsolete.

“The board basically wanted to hold off to make sure we didn’t have to spend $7 million in textbooks and resources that we were going to have to change in a year or two,” Ragsdale said.

Earlier this year, the Georgia Senate indeed passed legislation that would have created a pathway for Georgia to pull out of Common Core, but the bill was stopped in the Georgia House.

With the standards intact, Ragsdale believes it’s time the board moves forward with the textbook purchase. But that doesn’t mean the school district has to settle for the Common Core standards alone.

“We don’t have to stop at that,” Ragsdale said. “We wanted not only textbooks, but textbooks and resources that would allow the students and teachers in Cobb County to far exceed the minimum standards set forth by the state. We want to exceed those standards.”

Ragsdale said the recommended purchase he’s bringing will supply books for all grades, K-12.

Due to bidding regulations, he said the publisher’s name and exact price will not be released until the board’s June 11 agenda is published.

Elections stir board makeup

Board member Tim Stultz, representing the Smyrna/Vinings area, is in the middle of a closely watched re-election battle. He faces education consultant Susan Thayer in a July 22 Republican runoff, with the winner going up against attorney Kenya Pierre in the general election.

Thayer has already made it clear she would have voted for the books if she was on the board last year.

“Our kids are suffering because they don’t have materials,” said Thayer. “That’s a big issue to me.”

She says Common Core isn’t an issue for the school board to decide.

“It’s not my decision and school systems don’t have an option,” she said.

For now, Stultz isn’t sure how he’ll vote on the text books this time. Since the legislature didn’t pull Georgia out of Common Core, it appears the standards are here for the time being.

“I need to take an overall look at where the curriculum will be developed here in Cobb,” Stultz said.

Former Cobb administrator favors book purchase

The board should buy the books this time around, Stanley Wrinkle, a retired assistant superintendent, wrote in a Tuesday opinion piece for the MDJ.

“The board has a district rule which clearly explains how texts and instructional materials are to be adopted by the board,” he wrote. “Last year, teachers and central staff followed this procedure to the letter, enabling the superintendent to present the recommended mathematics adoption to the board. However, a relatively small group of citizens appeared at the meeting demanding the board refuse to adopt the teacher recommended texts and materials because the group was opposed to the state’s association with the Common Core curriculum standards.”

Wrinkle said the board accepted and agreed to the demands of the group at the expense of the teachers’ recommendations.

He argued the decision deprived more than 100,000 Cobb students of the math program thought to be the very best by their teachers.

Ragsdale said Thursday the proposal he’s bringing to the board was planned long before he saw Wrinkle’s letter.

“I had planned to bring this in June already, and the reason it’s coming in June is I wanted to make sure we had the proper amount of time for a couple of things — one, that we were covering the needs of the district to exceed the standards set forth by the state, but secondly to make sure we were getting the best bang for the buck,” Ragsdale said.

Ragsdale also wanted to make sure he had enough time to ship the books from the publisher to the schools before the new school year begins August 4.

“With the digital resources, we’ll make those immediately available to teachers, and we’re actually going to try to make sure that the teachers have the teacher editions before preplanning,” he said.

Comments
(17)
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Mary d
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May 29, 2014
I just finished post planning at my school where on the last day we had to move teachers and clean up workrooms and storerooms. Basically I moved hundred of workbooks from one shelf to another where they are no longer used. All I could see was the dollar signs of waste. Every few years the county changes things and spends thousands of dollars on workbooks and textbooks. When they move onto a new thing, the old ones are just stacked away on a shelf.
Just Wait
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May 24, 2014
If Common Core had been a Republican idea, all this controversy would have never happened. The teachers, you know, the ones who do the actual educating, think Common Core is good. Maybe the parents should listen to them and leave politics at home.
NCLB
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May 23, 2014
You people complain about Common Core as a take over of education. What was No Child Left Behind? Pure and simple garbage. I am not saying Common Core is the best educational initiative. But we need to get behind our teachers and provide the needed resources. If you can't understand your 3rd graders math, get a book and try to learn. If it does not follow Common Core that is fine, just get the teachers, kids and parents the books.
Laura Armstrong
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May 23, 2014
They always bring the controversial issues to the vote in June, when "shareholders" are on vacation and not paying attention.

If this is the way Ragsdale starts out, what do we have to look forward to?

Please just stop the deception and be straight with people. If you cannot make your case for something, you know it's not good for the kids.
Fair Shake
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May 24, 2014
Ms. Armstrong not everyone at Glover Street is corrupt. Give Mr. Ragsdale a chance, he just got the position. It's not like "he" has had a year to decide when to bring this forward. Use some common judgement or rather don't be so quick to judge by the same old yard stick.
Tes Socra
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May 23, 2014
Nice to see Superintendent Ragsdale stepping up and leading - the students and teachers need the materials NOW !

The silly discussion on Common Core needs to find a new audience !
don't do it!
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May 23, 2014
The teachers won't use them anyway. Common core is ridiculous. You could use a math book from 30,40,50 years ago and still teach the kids solid math skills. Quit with this crap!!!
Go away common core
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May 23, 2014
The Common Core is quite possibly the worst and most detrimental program we can use to educate our children. We are allowing the government to tell us how to educate our children. When did we become a socialist society?
East Cobb Parent
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May 23, 2014
It's not about whether you agree with Common Core math. Our students are being taught math without textbooks and resources! My elementary student was lucky that he attended a school that has a parent funded Foundation that purchased math workbooks. When he needed help with homework, I at least had a reference to refer to in helping him. It also had an online component that we would use to watch tutorials and print extra worksheets for practice. My middle school child was not so fortunate. He would bring home math homework that was a page of algebraic equations with no instructions and need help. I was lost in trying to help him! The teachers at our schools are frustrated and had their hands tied by a stupid decision by our school board. Our kids are the ones that suffered because of their stupid political decision. Buy math textbooks and resources now!
Ccno
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May 23, 2014
L16 - you are such a jerk with your comment about Mr. Ragsdale. If you read letters, editorials, etc... From parents across the country you would know that this common core math is too excellerated for elementary children then it dumbs down the high school kids.

Mr. Ragsdale is the right person for this position.. Get over yourself with the negative comments . I so hope you are a parent of a child who will come to you crying that they don't understand this math. And that you have to spend thousands for tutors. I was a parent of such a child when they introduced a now defunked math program that did not stretch across the schools in our attendance zone. I applaud those on the board that waited to decide on the outcome of common core in the state before jumping into a really bad program. I hope they do this well.
Consequences
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May 23, 2014
If Available, I would purchase a "hard drive" version of Common Core textbooks. Students could download the books to their I pads , tablets etc. Should the State of Ga.(in its infinite ignorance)decide to drop Common Core, the County could ell-ivate the hard drive, instead of being stuck with thousands of useless books.
dldil
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May 23, 2014
Unbelievable that Thayer would vote to purchase Common Core math books. Cmon people, vote wisely.
Hey Wrinkled
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May 23, 2014
Actually, the procedure was not followed to the letter. Votes by the teacher textbook committee were fudged to bring the book selection Krause wanted.

Stop living vicariously through your teacher-daughter and quietly go back into retirement. Last time anyone checked, you don't work for the system anymore.
I16
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May 23, 2014
I bet Mr. Ragsdale can't work the math that is common to common core.
anonymous
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May 23, 2014
nobody can...
anonymous
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May 23, 2014
The people that wrote the common core can do it all so they can consult later
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