(Soapboxes are guest commentaries from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Ronald Gandy is a resident of Beaverton.)

This is in response to the article, 'Math project seeks students, parents' (The Valley Times, Feb. 22).

In a straightforward, logical, realistic world the next math curriculum adoption would be no more than a 10-minute project - any more time spent would be a total waste of time.

Ten minutes should suffice to flip a coin to decide on Saxton or Singapore math. Preferably both would be adopted - with teachers' choosing which to use.

Teaching with Saxton/Singapore math - both proven successful methods - would give our students a solid academic foundation far beyond their reach with any hokey program that in all probability actually will be considered, such as the one currently in use in our schools today.

In the real world, when faced with a barrel of rotten apples, no matter how carefully you pick one, you will still wind up with a rotten apple. And so it always goes.

If the usual script is followed, great gobs of time, most paid for by taxpayers, will be expended examining various programs developed by college professors for their salability, not necessarily with positive student advancement in the equation. Through their rigged bidding process the State Department of Education will reward their favored publishers and the local folk get to choose from their approved list.

The result - some college professor author will get his pockets lined, a publisher's bottom line will be enhanced, the State Department of Education will continue its utterly idiotic practice of endorsed periodic curriculum changes (Shakespeare doesn't change every six years and neither do good curriculum choices) and the good local folk will have put on a great show appearing to have the best interest of our students in mind. And as usual, our youngsters get shortchanged and the taxpayers get screwed again.

One other very predictable result will be the unnecessarily high percentage of our youngsters who will be in special education/title one classes - look what we have there now.

Our American public school system is the only major enterprise in the world that gets paid a premium to fail. Our huge special education machine was created and is continually fed primarily through excessively expensive ineffective curriculum and teaching methods. If there was a $10,000 penalty for every student that couldn't read, write and compute at grade level, rather than the mighty dollars received for every child captured by the special education machine, you better believe our schools would quickly start teaching our youngsters how to read, write and compute correctly.

And if the system operated as if that $10,000 penalty was in effect we darn well would have a different curriculum selection process in place.

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