Math at GHS a Mess and It’s a Real ‘Animal House’ in Intro to Algebra Class

Dear Editor,
I loved Cynthia Walker’s column

Tired of Low GHS Math Scores? Turn to the Comics

but am afraid it won’t help since nothing else has helped.
Dear Editor,

I loved Cynthia Walker’s column “Tired of Low GHS Math Scores? Turn to the Comics” but am afraid it won’t help since nothing else has helped.

I have been fighting with the school to move my son, a freshman at Gilroy High School, from Algebra 1 to Algebra A for over a month. I finally had to threaten them with calling the school board, the Department of Education, and sending a letter to the Dispatch before the responded, which they then did very quickly (they last thing they need is more bad press).

My son is a product of private elementary and junior high school but wanted desperately to attend GHS. He is now begging us to leave GHS – after less than four months, he’s had enough, and so have we.

He scored high on his MAP test and was therefore placed in Algebra 1. He struggled from day one. When asked for help, he was told he could come in after class – but never at lunch, that wasn’t an option – the teacher needed her lunch time. What happened to the days when I went to high school (waaayyy back in the ’70s). If I needed help I’d meet my teacher at lunch in the classroom and we’d eat lunch together. I’d hardly consider this unreasonable – the teacher’s work day is from 8am to 3pm – that’s two to three hours less than most people’s normal work day! When he did look for his teacher after school, she was nowhere to be found.

When we expressed our concern to the principal we were told to send him to the on-site after school tutoring. He attended twice; both times the two seniors that were available were unable to help him with his Algebra homework. We then sent him to a private tutor, who happened to be the past math teacher at his junior high. She has been very helpful, but in her words, they simply are not preparing them for algebra in junior high – public or private. There seems to be a huge disconnect somewhere between the junior high pre-algebra and the algebra they are teaching in high school – let’s get organized Gilroy Unified School District and make sure we are preparing our kids for what they will be taught in high school.

I know I am one of MANY parents utterly disgusted with the math program, and more importantly, the lack of concern over it, at GHS. Rather than address the problem, they are simply making excuses, and even worse, trying to blame it on the kids! There’s something wrong when prior honors and highest honors kids are failing a specific class (that’s an F!). And these kids are getting As and Bs in their other subjects – that’s a sign, don’t ‘ya think???

Not to mention that we were totally shocked – no warning, no e-mail, no phone call home. But then over half the kids failed the class at first quarter report cards and that would be a lot of explaining to do.

We initially moved our son out of Algebra I to Intro to Algebra – I thought “let’s start at the basics just to be careful”. After one day, he called me from his cell phone begging me to move him. Seems in Intro to Algebra most of the time is spent yelling at the kids to stop talking, speak English when they do, and pay attention.

The class was in total disarray, the kids were calling the teacher rude names in Spanish all while two other kids in the back were busy tying fishing line between their desks so the teacher would trip! Not to mention that nothing was done about it – the teachers are afraid of some of the students.

We need to get our ducks in a row, teach in junior high to prepare for high school and when it’s obvious that it’s not being done, as is the case with GHS Math – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT rather than ignore it! Do they really think that next year’s new freshman will miraculously get it! This isn’t a new problem and it’s not a problem that a new math teacher can fix. It’s a district-wide problem that the school district needs to address, and we need to demand it, or our kids will suffer for years to come.

Karen Mountz, Gilroy

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