This is an open letter to Prasannakumar Padinhareveetil in response to his letter to the editor in the Feb. 28 issue of the The News. First, let me start by saying that any opinions expressed here are my own. I am not writing on behalf of the WW-P board of education.
Your letter discussed the change in high school math sequencing and what you believe to be shortcomings at the middle school level. The purpose of my letter is not to debate the merits of when a specific topic should be taught. I will leave that to the education professionals.
Nevertheless, I will point out that, while you are calling for more emphasis on algebra in middle school, most WW-P students complete algebra I (a high school graduation requirement) by Grade 8. Students on the honors and accelerated track complete both
algebra I and algebra II in middle school. And further, changes made at the grades 4-5 level have more than quadrupled the number of students taking honors and accelerated math in middle school.
Rather, my concern is that your letter might leave readers with the impression that WW-P’s math program is outdated and not meeting needs of WW-P students. Nothing can be further from the truth as evidenced by the success of our students. WW-P is one of the few New Jersey school districts that performs regular reviews of its programs, including mathematics, by both a team of internal staff members and an external consultant.
The curriculum for each course is written and updated by the teachers who teach the course, not by some external authority, who incorporate their experiences and lessons learned. Finally, WW-P highly values staff professional development and devotes significant resources to ensure our teachers remain current on the best practices in education.
This is not to say WW-P is above constructive criticism. The math faculty consists of dedicated professionals who are constantly looking for ways to improve learning. To my knowledge, you have not discussed the math program with any of the WW-P administrators who are responsible for it.
I suggest that you have a conversation with at least one of them before making a public statement like, “our WW-P mathematics sequencing is fundamentally flawed.” It is possible that a friendly exchange of ideas could be beneficial to both WW-P and your private education business.
— Anthony Fleres
Fleres is a Plainsboro member of the WWP school board.