4J School Board Plans To Tighten Curriculum Adoption Procedures

With the new school year kicking off Sept. 3, Eugene School Board 4J wants to reformat its current curriculum adoption process. After three years of using College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM) in the district, the board has not yet actually voted on the official adoption or rejection of the controversial middle school and high school CPM curriculum. Part of this revamp includes reconvening the Instructional Policy Council, which according to board members has not met for years and once played a role in choosing district curriculum.

CPM, called “one of the leading high school math programs nationally” by 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman while criticized by the 118-member Facebook group “CPM Math in Eugene,” was phased in during the 2011-2012 school year. Parents and teachers took issue with the implementation of CPM when the district spent $469,404 in bond and general funds without officially adopting the curriculum, in addition to other reasons.

The district has delayed adopting CPM, although all 4J high schools except Sheldon will use CPM through the level of Algebra 2 this year, according to a memo that 4J Director of Secondary Education Randy Bernstein sent to board members.

The memo says, “At Sheldon High School, all teachers will use CPM if required to do so. However, if given the choice in 2014-15, some would continue to use CPM as their core curriculum while most would use their former curriculum, perhaps supplementing it with … CPM.”

Parent Abby Gershenzon says that she and her daughter were “extremely unhappy” to find out that South Eugene High School added another grade of CPM this school year. She and other parents say they have recently written to school board members and principals about CPM with no response.

4J Communications Coordinator Kerry Delf says that the Instructional Policy Council, which used to bring curriculum decisions to the board and consisted of parents, teachers, administrators and board members, hasn’t met in years because limited funds kept the district from adopting new math curriculum more recently. She says the board plans to “review and update all its curriculum adoption procedures.”

4J School Board Chair Mary Walston says of the IPC, “The committee wasn’t as vibrant as it should have been. It’s nobody’s fault; it just happened.”

Board members and Delf say the board will continue to discuss the matter of CPM throughout the school year.