Math Scores Continue to Decline
Oct 11, 2016 — Dear fellow petitioners,
I hope this email finds you well and that your Thanksgiving Day was blessed and beautiful. If I may say that I am very grateful for all your support over the past three years. For a person who hates politics, it has been quite the journey into politics. My apologies for the long absence, as I have been trying to rededicate myself to medicine so that I can remain a knowledgeable physician and the best physician I can be for my patients.
However, I can't ignore the ongoing concerns. The 2015-16 Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT) scores just came out, and not surprisingly, the math scores have declined even further.
What is incredulous from these reports is how the school boards/superintendents are blaming either the class size or ESL students for the decline instead of admitting that they have committed a failed experiment on our children with the implementation of the discovery/inquiry math curriculum in 2008. When you take a subject matter that should be a universal language and have kids hop, skip and jump before they add 2+2, no wonder our kids are left confused. And when the kids are expected to explain why 2+2 =4, then there is no hope for our children. As well, when you take memory work and practice out of any equation, skills and knowledge will, invariably, suffer.
Because of your voices and efforts, in June 2014, together we were able to effect changes or "clarifications" to reemphasize the basics in mathematics, with implementation supposedly effective in the 2014/15 school year; while in 2015, the standard algorithms were reinforced. However, it was not until this year, that there is more widespread awareness of these changes in the schools:
Minister Eggen finally conceding to the importance of these changes or "clarifications" is also in part due to the pressure applied on our behalf over the summer from our opposition leaders: Brian Jean (Wildrose) and Dr. David Swann (Liberal):
Dr. David Swann:
The challenges that our children and dedicated teachers will face is the poor leadership from the Ministry/Superintendents/School Board/ATA head office, as evident by negative comments in this ATA's editor-in-chief piece:
And, if you recall, after I and Dr. Troitsky had met with the Executive Superintendent earlier this year, the superintendent promised to meet again after he gathered data on how today's kids were doing better in math. We were looking forward to seeing these results. Of course, rather than admitting that he couldn't find any proof, he emailed back shortly after saying that he didn't see a point of us meeting again since I, according to "[his] belief, was unwilling to consider any point of view that varies from [mine]." I thought this was funny because, our stance has always been about facts, and the evidence of success from standard/tried-and-true/"traditional" methods versus the lack of evidence for the discovery/inquiry-based approaches that stem from "21st century learning" ideologies.
Fortunately, there are many admirable teachers who stand up for our children:
We will need more teachers like him/her to speak up to guard the quality of our children's education because if the new Curriculum Redesign fully pushes the discovery/inquiry-based ideology, as the previous government had mandated with the 2013 Ministerial Orders, as they did with the mathematics, then we will continue to see further deterioration in knowledge and skill levels across all subjects.
Wishing you all the very best.
Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies
p.s The Deputy Minister/Minister still hasn't written a letter of apology/retraction for trying to shut me down. This was my letter to them in August 6th, 2016:
Dear Premier Notley, Minister Eggen, and Deputy Minister Curtis Clarke,
I am writing in response to Deputy Minister Curtis Clarke's unusual June 9th letter of introduction. Correct me if I am wrong, but DM Clarke must be new to his position, as he, whether or not it be with the approval of the Minister, made an uninformed, perhaps ignorant, statement to myself in declaring that "the matter of how mathematics is taught at individual schools [is] closed" and that your ministry "will not be communicating further with [me] on this topic."
I request that Minister Eggen and Deputy Minister Clarke write a formal letter of apology to myself and formally, retract these statements, as the statements contravene my democratic rights as you attempt to muzzle and subjugate the very people who elected you. I thought only the Harper government did that to its people and their scientists.
You see, you cannot patronize me because I am first and foremost a mother who will fiercely protect the rights of my children to ensure that they receive quality education. Further, I am a physician who has dedicated her life to science and to healing people. I understand the human condition, and I know what ails many physically and mentally when there is a lack of education. I understand the value of science and mathematics in the progression of humanity and society. I am an author, a writer of children's books, because I value the power of knowledge. I understand the importance of the unbridled imagination and creativity. I am a founder of a charity to give hope and opportunities to impoverished children because I once was that child. I know poverty. And, I am not alone. I have the strength of 20,000 fellow petitioners, many of whom supersedes you in credentials, especially in the science and mathematics, for they are fellow doctors, mathematicians, engineers, nurses, scientists, accountants and more. They, unbiased by educational ideologies and financial gains, know what it takes to succeed.
Therefore, I, as a parental voice, warrant your respect. That respect comes in the form of ensuring that your staff responds to my phone calls or letters of inquiry in a timely manner. That respect comes in the form of ensuring that you meet with me, your electorate, as per my request. That respect comes not in your letters of platitudes to my fellow petitioners. That respect comes in the form of you acknowledging our concerns regarding the direction of education and working with us to ensure that standards of excellence are maintained in our children's education. That respect comes in the form of you, as an elected official, never ever telling another parent that you will no longer be communicating with them regarding their ongoing concerns.
I look forward to your timely response."
pps. We had tried to organize a website last year to communicate with you, but there was never enough time in a day to keep it up. A few of our fellow petitioners -- possibly L Davis and a few others -- have offered to take the project on to monitor the achievements of our students in correlation with the upcoming changes in our education system. Will keep you posted.
Keep fighting for people power!
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