New math: 5-1-1 = Common Core-aligned textbooks purchased
by Haisten Willis
June 12, 2014 04:00 AM | 6132 views | 7 7 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kathleen Angelucci
Kathleen Angelucci
Randy Scamihorn
Randy Scamihorn
MARIETTA — With the state of Georgia sticking with Common Core, the Cobb school board gave the go-ahead to a set of math books aligned with the standards during a work session Wednesday.

In a victory for Interim Cobb School District Super-intendent Chris Ragsdale, the board voted 5-1-1 to approve his proposal to purchase $7 million in math textbooks and materials to be used for the next seven years.

The books are expected to arrive in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year.

School Board Chair Kathleen Angelucci voted against the purchase, while Vice Chair Randy Scamihorn abstained. Both voted against a similar purchase last year.

Board members Tim Stultz and Brad Wheeler also voted against the purchase in April 2013, which failed 4-3, but decided to vote in favor of it this year.

While all four said they still have issues with Common Core, they stressed the need to put materials in the hands of students and teachers.

“Common Core is awkward, if not incomprehensible,” Scamihorn said. “I’m opposed to Common Core, but I’m also strongly in favor of supporting our teachers, and our teachers needed some materials.”

The Georgia General Assembly nearly pulled the state out of Common Core this spring, but decided against it at the last minute.

“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,” said Ragsdale, explaining the hesitation a year ago.

Last July, 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.

Stultz is in the middle of a primary challenge from education consultant Susan Thayer, with a runoff coming July 22 for the southeast Cobb seat.

The winner faces Democrat Kenya Pierre, an attorney, in November. Pierre has said previously said she is not opposed to Common Core.

Thayer has said she would have voted to buy the books last year, and Stultz’s vote puts the two southeast Cobb candidates closer to alignment on the issue.

“Our vote last year gave the state an opportunity to take the state out of Common Core,” Stultz said. “They did not come through, so the district is left with no other option but to give the teachers the resources they need.”

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 another.

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.

Different books than last year

Ragsdale said the purchase uses textbooks and digital materials from McGraw-Hill for grades K-8 and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for high school students.

The same companies are being proposed for the middle school and high school textbooks as were proposed last year, but McGraw-Hill replaced Pearson for elementary schools this time. Ragsdale said McGraw-Hill’s materials have a stronger digital element.

Scamihorn asked Wednesday if the board could vote on the elementary, middle and high school textbooks separately, but the board decided not to do so. Angelucci said she favored the elementary textbooks, but not the books for middle school and high school.

“If I can’t support a portion, I can’t support the whole,” she said.

Scamihorn said he was ready to vote for the books, but had issues with how the vote was handled. He questioned why the vote was held during a work session rather than next Thursday’s regular board meeting.

Mary Elizabeth Davis, the school system’s chief academic officer, fielded questions by board members about the books.

When asked by Scamihorn about voting next week, Davis said it would delay the book order until after the July 4 holiday and the books wouldn’t arrive until late August.

Scamihorn took issue with the response.

“It was heavy-handed,” he said. “I thought this was pre-determined. They knew exactly what they were doing. But I want to stress that I support the vote. Any abstention goes with the majority.”

Before the board talked about the purchase, school board member David Morgan made a motion to accept the purchase, which was seconded by David Banks.

Seven people spoke to the board during public comment before the meeting, of which six spoke about the textbook purchase. All said they were in favor of buying the math books.

One of those speakers was Michelle Sollicito, who recently campaigned for Post 6 school board member Scott Sweeney.

“A vote against these books is a vote against teachers and children,” Sollicito said.

Others who spoke favorably of the purchase included Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, and Stanley Wrinkle, a former Cobb assistant superintendent.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Tes Socra
June 12, 2014
What a relief to see Superintendent Ragsdale rise above the "drama" and deliver with leadership and commitment classroom materials for the the students, educators and parents. About darn time for a Cobb superintendent to lead with intellect and wisdom.
Cobb Mom
June 12, 2014
It is becoming more and more obvious that the only solution in Cobb is homeschooling.
Jackie Grasty
June 27, 2014
Textbook publishers are having a hay day. Think of the revenue this has generated for them. Mt. Bethel Christian Academy, in East Cobb, has always extended their curriculum to meet their more rigorous curriculum goals and compensate for dumbed down textbooks. Common Core will have a ripple effect and I expect over time we'll see that students applying out of public school into private schools will not meet admission standards. I'm the Admission Director at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy and am interested, yet concerned, to see how this plays out.
Captain Obvious
June 12, 2014
Angelucci, Scamihorn, Stultz and Wheeler gambled last year with our children's future when they did not purchase the recommended math resources. Students suffered.

They believed standards would change. They didn't.

In a June 2013 article the MDJ reported; "The board majority worried that if the state pulled out of Common Core it would have wasted $7.5 million."

In the same article, Angelucci is quoted stating; “My big concern is the expense, being fiscally responsible and just waiting to see what happens,” Angelucci said. “We may very well be staying with what we have, but we don’t know.”

Her decisive indecision just cost the school district a few million dollars - so much for fiscal conservatism.

Do the math;

$7.0 million - rejected last year


$2.9 million - spent last year

$7.0 million - just approved


$9.9 million total

Brilliant - how many teachers could have been hired with $2.9 million?
June 12, 2014
About 40 teachers.
SW Gal
June 12, 2014
Parents, wake up! Common Core Standards are inferior. They are not research based. (Read what the only math expert, Dr. James Milgram, and the English Language Arts expert, Sandra Stotsky say about Common Core Standards.) Common Core Standards put our children at least 2 years behind in math by the 8th grade. The high stakes testing tied to Common Core puts unnecessary burdens on our teachers and our students. Common Core Standards put MILLIONS of dollars in the hands of the crony capitalists and crooked politicians at our children's expense. Also, the fact that the PTA accepted money from the Gates Foundation pushing Common Core is a conflict of interest. Please, parents, oppose Common Core Standards. We will lose another generation of children to these unconstitutional Federal mandates. Follow the money. Look at the campaign contributions to your elected officials from such PRO-Common Core groups as StudentsFirst. You thought No Child Left Behind was bad. Wait until you see what Common Core does to our children. Ms. Angelucci and others who previously rejected Common Core textbooks were absolutely right to do so! (By the way, did anyone ever find the millions of dollars in new textbooks conveniently "LOST" in the Cobb County Education system's warehouse a couple of years ago?) Start putting the blame where it belongs, crooked politicians and their crony special interests. Insist that the high stakes testing stop.
CC isn't set up
June 12, 2014
CC standards are across the US but not implemented to help at all. We have had several kids move to our school through out the year who had not been taught the standards we already completed. There is no set order for teaching the curriculum. One district may begin with place value and another decimals. If a child moves, they did something that we haven't started and missed what we did complete. It is an epic failure! This to shall pass, as every other initiative, such as the NCLB.
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