Statement Against the SpringBoard Curriculum by Julie Farnsworth

Dear Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board:

In researching the SpringBoard curriculum I found articles where this material has been used in other parts of the country. Here’s some of what I found:
In DeKalb County, GA: "Teachers just read prepackaged Springboard lessons to their students. Students loath it even more, and call it tedious, boring, and mind-numbing. They call it ‘Springbored.’ When the school board announced that is was discontinuing this curriculum everyone cheered."

Hillsborough County, Fl "…Some teachers say SpringBoard is no better – and may be worse- in preparing students for college than the district’s previous curriculum. Honors students are a special concern. …it lacks challenge …"

I have two major concerns:

This material appears to so micro-manage that it takes away a teacher’s own creativity and talent. It seems to be too heavy on student driven discussions. I was left wondering why bother to pay for college educated teachers when this could be achieved with simply adult facilitators.

My second major concern is the content in this curriculum. In the front of the books it reads “Inspiring Minds.” Yet, I found little in this curriculum that inspires… mostly things that degrade, belittle, and find fault. The majority of this material is anti-family, anti-parents, stories that highlight problems encountered at school, encourages racism, jealousy, class envy, and selfishness. It is depressing propaganda, especially for 6th through 9th grade kids who are at such a vulnerable age for defining themselves and their strength of character.

I believe this material is completely unfit any organization that desires to provide a world class education. Our students deserve a superior education for the time and means devoted to them.

Below is just a sampling of some of the content in the SpringBoard Books:
Level 1 – 6th grade, Level 2 – 7th grade, Level 3 – 8th grade, Level 4 – 9th grade

This material was to include more science, but here is what I found:
Level 2 pg. 140 – Fact or Opinion: Buying into the Green Movement by Alex Williams.
Level 3 pg. 288 – Science Hero: Beth Rickard Environmentalist (a self-described tree hugging hippie from birth)

What happened to real science heroes, like Einstein, Edison, or Pasteur?
Level 2 pg. 303 – Roomate by Deborah Karczewski.

The story is about a girl who is mad about sharing a room with her new baby brother. “It’s bad enough that I’m gonna have to be tortured by a stinky, whiny, bottle-sucking baby in the house, but to give up half of my room?…to the brat of the century? (This is) worse than being stung by killer wasps! …"
Level 2 – pg. 306 Too Young For… by Deborah Karczewski.

This is a story about a girl who is mad at parents for having rules and restrictions, basically for trying to guide and teach her. Do 7th grade kids really need encouragement from stories at school to be angry and disrespectful to their parents and families?
Level 3 – pg. 177 – Writing a Persuasive Essay.

The students are to brainstorm as a class. An example given: Should athletes be required to give some of their income to the school? The directive is class thought, not individual thought, which can produce group/mob mentality. Only the courageous student will stand up against peer pressure to state his or her individual thought. Do teenagers need encouragement from school to feel entitled to the fruits of someone else’s labors?
Level 4 pg. 65 – “As If!” By Judith Rosen.

This is an article on Marketing to Older Teens. "US teens controlled an estimated $169 Billion in disposable income last year or $91.00 per week per teen." Study done by Teenage Research Unlimited.

I thought of the irony that teens can afford so much, yet supposedly we have enough poverty here in Gilbert that we provide breakfast and lunch all summer long for fear the kids will not get enough to eat.
Level 4 pg. 185-187 Coming of Age.

Suggested texts and materials: Lyrics from "Every Ghetto Every City" by Lauryn Hill and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, and more…
Look up the lyrics and see if you as parents or teachers find it to be inspiring or something you would not want in your own homes.

This curriculum is touted as being fresh and new by offering learning from a wide genre of materials, i.e., excerpts from books, clips from movies, short stories, and lyrics from songs. Any of that can be great as an addendum to more rigorous curriculum, but not the core of it.

After reviewing this curriculum I went away feeling depressed and had a headache… and I almost never get headaches!

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