Math 4 moms and dads



Nicole Lanford, newly in charge of covering Education for the News-Gazette, reports on an event tonight at Central. I would like to take you on a little journey that goes just a tad deeper. Slopes and parabolas are words, names we give to things.


Image provided by Wolfram Alpha

For starters, using the famous formula mx+b, here is a plot of various slopes (m) with various values for x:


If you just want one line (*yawn*):






Image provided by Wolfram Alpha

Want that parabola?

Or the 3d version:





But it is more than just creating pretty pictures (and I love the pictures!). What is especially exciting about what Lindsay Polarek and LaDonna Fletcher are doing goes way beyond the words we use – it is the way they actually teach. I have spoken with both in the past, and I love their approach to teaching math concepts to students; they are throwing in the kitchen sink by allowing students to collaborate, deliberate and explore as they grapple with formulas, functions and visualizing. They make a point of relating new ideas to familiar ideas, to help make the “learning curve” a bit more manageable – ideas are connected, one to another. Students also work together on small projects. In effect, they are already doing “21st Century Education” in their practices.


Math 4 Moms and Dads is a way for parents to see how these teachers teach, or as the article says of Ms. Polarek, an “opportunity to connect with educators”:

“So many people have negative impressions of math, and we want to show that this doesn’t have to be the case,” she added. “We want parents to experience math the way their students are experiencing it — as opposed to how they may have experienced it when they were in school.” (quoted from Lanford’s article)

It is not so much about remembering how to find a slope given a pair of points or what the quadratic equation looks like. I believe it is more so parents can see and “experience” how their children are learning. And from what I gather, there is a lot more fun involved than when I was a kid. 🙂


The event is advertised for Central families (parents and students). But I would encourage you to talk with Ms. Polarek and Ms. Fletcher regardless.


Obligatory plug for Wolfram: while Wolfram’s products are not the only thing out there, I tend to like them because 1) they are local, and 2) their products are powerful and really cool. I am big on visualization, so I like being able to “see” what the numbers are trying to tell me.


Pros and cons of the November 4 school tax referendum

I’ll start with the short and sweet, a brief list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of the $148.95 million tax referendum that is up for a vote on November 4th. However this post will run a little long with a number of observations, anecdotes and elaboration on both sides of the issue – the faint of heart need not read the whole thing.




  • Addresses capacity issues by building a new school capable of holding 1700 students and renovates an existing school to allow for 1700 total students.
  • Sidesteps the many maintenance issues at the current Central building by building a brand new structure.
  • Addresses the issue of co-located athletic fields for Central (currently lacking).
  • Increases morale and continues the kinetic synergy that has slowly built up among staff and students; the increased excitement gives some an extra dose of energy and optimism.
  • The district administration and board has committed to bringing in a “21st Century Education” with the passage of this referendum, a grand vision with lots of interesting and fascinating ramifications.
  • At the September 8th Board Meeting, a number of innovative and long overdue community partnerships will be announced.
  • The district has a comprehensive and growing list of “Frequently Asked Questions” (aka, FAQ) on the futurefacilities website.
  • The board has finally made a decision to move forward; this has catalyzed a thorough and necessarily critical discussion of the direction we are heading in.
  • With the addition of co-located athletics, allows for more folks to participate who might not have otherwise.


  • Fails to address any of the maintenance issues at the current Central building that will be required once the building is repurposed.
  • Fails to address any of the other deferred maintenance (at other schools) that has been known for at least a decade.
  • The tax referendum, if it should pass, presents a relatively much larger burden to those on fixed incomes and those who are already struggling to make ends meet.
  • Allows too many “wants” to take a higher priority over the “needs” of the district.
  • We do not know what we are buying – what exactly are we getting for $98 million and $52 million?
  • A detailed list of deferred maintenance (aka, “needs”) is not published as of this writing. Let alone a prioritized list.
  • The district has no viable “Plan B” if the referendum should not pass – the only alternative is to go for the referendum again in 2015 for at least $153 million.
  • The district has yet to present a balanced set of facts; they have not acknowledged the downsides of the referendum very well.
  • Division and burned bridges in the community; instead of working together for the greater good, politics and personal agendas are distracting us from the true, root issues.
  • The 10-year and 20-year plans are not very clear, nor does the community understand them if they are even aware of their existence.
  • Commits the district to building larger schools, which was not chosen as an option during Dejong-Richter.


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