March 8, 2022 – West Bend, Wi – The West Bend School Board held a curriculum discussion during its Monday, March 7, 2022 meeting regarding updating the K through grade 8 Social Studies priority standards.
According to the district, “The standards were written and now being vetted through the 5th to 8th grade teachers.”
Prior to the discussion, parent and taxpayer Jody Geenen spoke during the public participation portion of the meeting and addressed what she found while reviewing the new proposed curriculum. Her comments are below.
Good evening! My name is Jody Geenen. I’m a resident of West Bend. I am here to update the public on the 5th-8th grade social studies resources review and to recap the curriculum committee meeting of March 1st where the public feedback was discussed.
First, Superintendent Wimmer supported the administration’s push to approve the defective McGraw Hill vendor by saying “no book is perfect.” That was quite the understatement! Our team did not find just a couple of issues with McGraw Hill. Carol Heger, alone, found an alphabet’s worth of topics of misinformation and lack of substance in addition to misspellings and typos. That was only the tip of the iceberg of the problems our team uncovered, and I’m sure we could find many more issues if we were given more time to thoroughly review the resource.
Second, Dr. Reis gave two reasons why they were pushing for McGraw Hill: one is because the teachers can create/customize their own curriculum the way they want; and the other is because it offers the three reading levels needed from what I believe is part of the Grading For Learning that the school district adopted in 2020.
If the teachers can customize, how can the public review it? We won’t know what the students are getting until after the resource is approved. If the resource is so horrible that it needs to be rewritten, why pay for it? Why not continue using the resources we already have and save the district tens of thousands of dollars?
Regarding no book being perfect, our review team offered a couple of different publishers that we know provide truth-and-fact-based, balanced education with substance. Dr. Reis says in following policy, once the Request For Proposal is closed, we are not able to open it up to other vendors. Then either change the policy or scrap the vendors and start the process over.
Dr. Reis said she spent time looking into Core Knowledge resource after we offered it as an alternative, and she found it to be a set of must-do’s and suggestions with limited resources or tools included, and only one reading level. Nonetheless, if she’s willing to have teachers create their own lessons with the costly and deficient McGraw Hill, why not do it with the FREE and fact-based Core Knowledge resource?
We have a duty to educate our students properly above anything else. Yet, our school district was ranked by DPI as 9th out of 10 academically in our 10-team conference. WI overall was one of 9-states to earn an “F” on the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s latest report card on history and civics standards in US schools. Our school district ranking at the bottom in a state that earned an “F” is not something to dismiss.
Regarding McGraw Hill, even Tonnie Schmidt and Erin Dove admitted they were overwhelmed with all of the problems we uncovered, and, consequently, a lot of time will be spent determining what needs to be eliminated or supplemented in order for the content to be accurate. Paul Fischer suggested at Saturday’s Voters’ Forum that our teachers could do a better job teaching if they didn’t have to keep learning new curriculum. Scrap McGraw Hill before you waste any more time or money and end up dumbing our students down to placing 10th out of 10 school districts!
This is a working story and more information will be added when details become available.
For the past two weeks, 10 calls have been placed to school board member Erin Dove, who sits on the curriculum committee. So far, none of the calls have been returned.