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Parents Share Confusion, Concern About New Math Curriculum With Duval 'Supe'

Lindsey Kilbride

Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti held his second "Chat with the Supe" community forum at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church downtown on Wednesday.

Parents had concerns about the new math curriculum, DUVAL Math, also called Eureka, or Engage New York. It requires a deeper look into problem solving, using new methods.

Triniece Patterson has two children in Duval schools. She says she doesn't have enough resources to help her daughter with math at home.  

"I'm always about embracing new change, but one thing I don't like about change is I don't want it just thrown on me," Patterson says. "I'm visual. If I can see it, I can teach it to her. But if I don't have anything to go by, I'm just useless as a parent."

She says she's worried a tutor wouldn't even be up to speed on the new math methods.

Vitti says frustration with the curriculum has been a top complaint.

"Well, I think every time I hear it, it just creates a greater sense of urgency to do things differently in order to help parents through this challenge of these new standards," Vitti says.  

He says he owns that Duval could do a better job educating parents. He says one solution may be to put more tutorials online for parents and students. He says there's also a need for more after-school and weekend help sessions.

Vitti says he too gets frustrated helping his own elementary-aged children with math homework, but he says the changes are necessary to keep Duval students on par with new federal standards.

Erin Scharer has kids in fourth, fifth and second grade.

"My fourth-grader's math is completely different than what my fifth grader brought home last year," Scharer says.

She says she came to the forum to ask Vitti what he was trying to accomplish with a curriculum change. She says after speaking with him she appreciates the high standards.

"I think he was very receptive, and the explanation of holding your children to a high rigor made sense to me," Scharer says. "It's probably going to take a couple years if we continue with this curriculum to get all the children used to that rigor and up to speed with what their expectations are."

Other topics such as boundary changes, discipline methods and the opportunity for kids to have a chance to break away during the school day and expend energy were also brought to Vitti's attention Wednesday night.

The next "Chat with the Supe" is Oct. 28 at the Regency Library.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.