Issaquah School Board approves controversial Discovering math series

The Issaquah School Board voted to adopt the Discovering Mathematics high school textbook series at a March 24 meeting, moving the controversial textbooks closer to Sammamish and Issaquah classrooms.

The board voted 4-1 to adopt the Discovering algebra and geometry series for Issaquah high school students. The vote ends a nearly two year-long process to replace the math textbooks which were twice-recommended by a panel of Issaquah School District math teachers.

“Thank you all for your thoughtfulness in the process,” said ISD Superintendent Steve Rasmussen. “This is not easy. And we know as school people that is not easy … I also want to thank the community for weighing in. It makes the district better.”

Rasmussen promised teachers would be trained this summer on how to effectively teach with the materials — expected in classrooms this fall — and communicate the changes to district students and parents.

Much of the math textbook’s noteriety comes from a Seattle School District lawsuit involving the same textbooks by parents objecting to the way in which the “inquiry based” curriculum was adopted. A King County Judge blocked adoption of the materials this year and the legal action is currently on appeal.

The school board received dozens of emails and messages concerning the math adoption and several members of the community also addressed the board. Most who spoke before the adoption vote were opposed.

Danaher Dempsey, Jr., a school teacher from Lacey, warned that the textbooks put lower-income families at a disadvantage because of the series’ dependence on supplemental and online materials.

“The first thing they do is teach you is how to solve stuff with a calculator … They didn’t teach you to do anything of consequence.”

The adoption of the textbook series is a public relations victory for publisher Key Curriculum Press, who publishes the books.

“We commend Issaquah educators for studying the published data and making their decision based upon facts,” said Karen Coe, President and CEO for Key Curriculum Press. “The Discovering series is one of the highest-ranking, most-recognized and most-mathematically sound high school math curriculum in the nation. It is in use in all 50 states and has received support from educators across the country.”

According to Key Curriculum, Discovering Mathematics is currently used in the Everett, Franklin-Pierce, Highline, Lake Washington, Seattle, and South Whidbey school districts, plus many other smaller districts and private schools. Other districts nationally include Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and New York City.