I was contacted last week by Dad Blogger and New Homeschooling Father Scott Suler. He has been aware of the Math Wars and the various claims made by both sides about faulty Math Curriculum. He read a couple of my Math Posts and contacted me about his conversation with the author of the middle school Saxon Math textbooks Stephen Hake.
He contacted Stephen Hake first hand and engaged him in a Q and A email conversation. The four blog entries detailing their email chat are located on Scotts Blog Homeschooling Odyssey.
The most relevant portion of Scott and Stephens conversation to parents today was the first response from Stephen in Part one of Scotts Blog Posts:
“To underscore the care I take with the content, I will speaking personally. The greatest satisfaction I have as a Saxon author is that parents choose Saxon Math for their children. Homeschool parents have trust us for 30 years. I take that trust very seriously. I began writing this program for my own children, and now my grandchildren are using the program. I am certainly not going to compromise their education. So homeschool parents can continue to trust us.
Now for a longer version: I first made contact with John Saxon in 1983 after I began using his first-printing Algebra 1 textbook with a class of 8th grade students I was teaching. His book was remarkably similar in style to the method I had settled upon for my students. I fact, I had written curriculum that teachers were using in my school district at the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade levels. John Saxon and I agreed to merge our efforts. John wrote the books Algebra 1/2 and up, while I wrote manuscripts for Math 54, Math 65, Math 76, and Math 87. The manuscripts I wrote followed the format John Saxon used for his high school books, and the content was based on my own teaching experience.
When John Saxon would receive one of my manuscripts, he would review it, mark it for editorial changes, and then we would meet to go over his suggestions. We saw eye-to-eye on nearly everything, and on the rare occasions when we did not completely agree, he would consent to my decision, since I had experience at that level. In other words, he acknowledged me as lead author.
Over the years, states have required more content in math courses. For example, math textbooks now include more content in statistics, probability, and problem-solving. Additionally, states require copyright dates to remain current. Therefore, every six or seven years publishers create new editions. When the time came to revise the Saxon Math textbooks, we did not remove content. We usually added a few lessons, and we would strengthen the existing content. Although we added pages to the books over the years, we also made the books better.
Saxon Homeschool does not directly sell the newest editions of the books, entitled Intermediate 3, 4, 5 and Courses 1, 2, 3. However, the publisher sells these editions to schools, and sometimes people post these books on eBay. They are good books. Although these editions are generally not available to homeschool customers, is no reason to avoid them. Some parents have asked about Saxon Math and Common Core. The most recent editions of Saxon Math were created before the Common Core State Standards were created.
This email does not address the Saxon high school books. If you would like information about the new high school books or my perspective on Common Core, let me know, and I will respond in a separate email.
More parents are jumping on the bandwagon questioning Common Core Math.
Last night a post by a Father was whipping around Facebook. The Dad, Daniel Bongino is running for Congress in Maryland and he said this:
“Like many of you, I am a parent who is passionate about my child’s education in an increasingly competitive and unforgiving global economy.
Having stated that, I cannot condemn the Common Core in strong enough terms. Look at the picture I have attached to this post. I gave my daughter a relatively easy long-division problem to do today, in an attempt to gauge her progress, and this is what she gave back to me.
This is completely unacceptable. How is it that we are replacing a time-tested, efficient method of long-division with an absurd, multi-step process that not only confuses the students, but the parents too?
Compounding the Common Core disaster is the fact that in my daughter’s last school year she was taught the older, more effective method of long-division and is now completely confused.
Friends, all politics are local and it gets no more local than your kitchen table. Fight back against the Common Core, and do it quickly, by calling and emailing your local, state, and federal elected officials.
This is not a partisan issue. Your child’s education is suffering whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. Every second we lose is another second our kids are being exposed to a third-rate curriculum in a first-world economy. Count on me as an ally in this fight.
I really am amazed that two busy Fathers would slow down their lives enough to attempt to get the facts in this matter. The Math Wars continue on…
I wish I trusted the schools enough to know that if I sent Ben to Middle School next year nobody would be messing with his mind. I am not a math teacher, not trained in education or educrat pedagogy. I am angry that I have to spend my precious time teaching my son Math when the whole infrastructure uses my tax dollars to train teachers and administrators, build the schools, and buy the textbooks. If the world was not turned completely upsidedown we would not have had to spend thousands of dollars of our precious resources from our family budget buying curriculum to fill in the gaps where the public schools are spectacularly failing.
These Saxon Text Books are as important to me as the scriptures we read with our children every day. We keep them on a special shelf in our living room and they are treated like the treasures that they are. Every day that Ben and I sit down to work on his daily math lesson I feel a sense of satisfaction that we are beating back against the insanity that is Math Education in America, but there are about ten thousands things I would RATHER be doing with my time than playing the part of Math Teacher.
Not every parent has the time, resources, gumption, and desire to take on the intimidating task of teaching middle school and high school math to a child. And it is for them that I continue to write and yell.
It we don’t dump the Common Core mess right in the toilet where it belongs a huge group of American School Children are going to grow up believing they are idiots. I pray we can get the gumption to fight back against Jeb Bush and Bill Gates and say “no, you are not going to dumb down yet another generation of children!”