Letter: To the SMMUSD Community

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Letter to the Editor

A shift is occurring in our schools, significant enough to this parent to alert school families and community. 

Up until now, math-passionate Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) students have had the opportunity to complete three calculus classes during high school, culminating senior year in multivariable calculus and linear algebra, calculus DE. This rigorous course of study, rare for any high school, is undoubtedly one of the programs that sees many of our children graduate to represent SMMUSD at Yale, Harvard, UPenn, Middlebury, Brown, Williams, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Stanford and MIT. 

But SMMUSD, as part of the transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), has put this program in jeopardy. Districts like San Jose and San Juan Capistrano are blending in CCSS while protecting their accelerated programs. The implementation strategy SMMUSD has chosen, despite objections by scores of parents, makes Calculus DE laborious to reach. 

To accumulate the pre-requisites for calculus DE, students need geometry by eighth grade, but SMMUSD is eliminating middle school geometry. The district says they’ve built “multiple opportunities for students to accelerate so all calculus options are attainable.” Opportunities such as take geometry the summer before ninth grade, or take geometry concurrently with algebra 2/trigonometry during freshman year. And the latter geometry class would be scheduled before the start of the school day, at 7 a.m. 

Both options take place outside the parameters of the normal school day and may preclude kids from participating due to family logistics. Plus, can you imagine asking a freshman to take two accelerated high school math courses in one year? Factor in the mountain of National Sleep Foundation evidence showing the negative impact early school start times have on kids’ health and studies, and I’m amazed any educator would suggest this option over the excellent and proven pathway that’s been in place. 

If reshaping the existing math pathway, traditionally a crown jewel in the SMMUSD curriculum, concerns you, join up with the other parents speaking out against these changes. Additionally, contact Superintendent Sandra Lyon and Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Terry Deloria. 

Martha Quinn, SMMUSD Parent