Calling this episode of bungling and bad choices a fiasco is not hyperbole: Teach to One was launched at the beginning of the school year with no signed contract. It involved all sixth-grade students, despite its characterization as a "pilot" — meaning a test of its merits as a tool to help students at all achievement levels learn math. Yet with all students participating, a pilot program loses the critical component that allows the pilot set of students' learning to be compared with that of students using the traditional curriculum.
The bad choices made at the beginning of the program's launch were then exacerbated with the decision to keep the increasing complaints and concerns of parents and teachers from the school board, whose members apparently weren't paying attention to the developments unfolding with a radically new math program.
Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph's decision to try to hide increasingly troubling developments during the five months the program was in place — problems highlighted in emails the Voice obtained through a state Public Records Act request — was a huge blunder. It took a small army of parents to wave the red flag in the school board's collective face, and by then, confidence in district administrators and the elected officials who are supposed to be overseeing them was badly damaged.
Rudolph also blundered in not vetting Teach to One beforehand by bringing teachers and parents into the process, leaping headlong into a program that has little or no record of use, let alone success, in districts comparable to Mountain View Whisman.
Some board members are owning up to the fact that their oversight and their adherence to policy were inadequate. No argument there. When Rudolph was hired in summer 2015, the board acknowledged that he lacked experience in important areas, and to its credit, authorized training to help him succeed in his leadership position. But with this acknowledgment and decision to hire Rudolph, the board should also have understood that oversight of someone with little experience was more important than ever. And that includes vigilance to ensure that policies and best practices that Rudolph may not be familiar with are followed.
Board member Ellen Wheeler said she believes the district should learn from the mistakes that led to the Teach to One failure, and move on. We hope that lessons were indeed learned from this unfortunate episode and that in the future the board pays closer attention when major changes are put in place in the district's classrooms.
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