LASD approves math program amid controversy

After a month-long debate, Littlestown Area School District’s Board of Directors approved using McGraw Hill’s Reveal Math program for elementary students at their meeting on Monday, with three members voting “no.”

Board member Nicki Kenny said she believed more research was needed regarding the success rate of Reveal Math before a decision was made. “I just want to reiterate that without data to show this program has an effective output or that it’s actually improving math scores, it’s just throwing caution to the wind,” she said. Board members Jeanne Ewen and Shari Kruger also voted against the program.

During the public input portion of the meeting, two community members expressed concerns over the social-emotional learning component of the new math program and one supported it.

Janelle Ressler called the program “a wild card of an unproven, untested, and very inappropriate social-emotional learning math program.”

Dwayne Sullivan agreed. “Social-emotional learning being slipped in a math program or any other curriculum should never be allowed in schools. The point of social-emotional learning is to conscientize students while implementing or promoting socialism,” he said. 

Suzanne Johnson said her research indicated Reveal Math meets expectations and standards. She said challengers to the program used divisive statements like “social-emotional learning is critical race theory,” which promotes distrust in educational professionals.

In a press release earlier this month, Superintendent Christopher Bigger said “We teach students to socialize, understand their emotions and control their behavior so they can learn math or any subject we are teaching. We focus on the skills of working well with others, being a good listener, staying focused on classwork, and developing skills for when you struggle with the content. I trust our elementary teachers as they fully understand the needs of our students and the community.”

Other Board Business

The board approved an order for student technology devices for the 2023-24 school year. The secondary student device refresh cycle was developed three years ago to support students with 1-1 technology in grades 6-12. The three-year lease term, $58,562.08, is currently included in the technology budget.

Several policies were approved with some minor changes. Policy 218, student discipline; 218.1: weapons; 218.2, terroristic threats or acts; 222, tobacco and vaping products and 227, controlled substances/paraphernalia.

Policies approved on a first reading include 123.2, sudden cardiac arrest; 220, student expression; 246, school wellness; 805, emergency preparedness and response; 907, school visitors and 913, non-school organizations/groups/individuals. All policies are available for review on the LASD website.

A field trip was approved for LHS students to visit the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on May 17, paid for by the Thunderbolt Foundation. Other out-of-state field trips approved included AP physics to the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, VA May 18 and the second-grade visit to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on May 12.

Students of the month recognized were Brezzlyn Domneys, kindergarten; Brooks Hoover, third grade; Lilliana Mummert, 8th grade; Ryder Lane and Bethany Shifflett, twelfth grade.

A Community Survey will be distributed this spring, and the trends show priorities have changed, Superintendent Bigger reported later. The focus is now on career readiness and academics. Bigger said less than 20 percent of colleges use SAT scores as a measure of preparedness. “Now colleges are looking at the rigor of courses students take and extracurricular leadership and volunteer hours.” Bigger said more information on the topic is available in the winter newsletter.

The current survey will include questions generated by the LASD community, including new academic courses, what graduates are doing now, how the community can serve as a positive role model, and what LASD can do for the community.

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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