Riverside’s Brian Peldunas wins one for the kids

Math curriculum being switched from the abysmal “Everyday Math”, to the Singapore system. Congratulations to the school board for examining and then discarding a lousy pedagogical tool and implementing a better one. And everyone in Greenwich owes Mr. Peldunas a thank you for pushing so hard for this. Unlike some bloggers I know who kvetch endlessly and stop there, Peldunas pushed, and kept pushing. Only downside: if your kid’s already in middle school, she’s not going to benefit from the change – it’s starting at the earliest grades.

A committee of administrators, teachers and parents that began looking earlier this year at changing the curriculum is recommending a textbook, “Math in Focus: Singapore Math.” It would replace the current Everyday Math curriculum, which parents say was not teaching basic skills.

The review took place as Greenwich begins implementing common core standards, national standards for language arts and math that are intended to encourage more analytical thinking and in-depth problem solving.

Irene Parisi, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and professional learning, said of the programs the committee reviewed, Math in Focus is probably most aligned with the common core standards.

“We want to provide teachers and students with the appropriate resources for raising the rigor and closing the achievement gap,” Parisi said during a Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

If the school board approves the new curriculum, it will be implemented in kindergarten through fifth grades this year, followed by sixth through eighth grades in 2014.

Four different textbooks were considered during the review, and the group narrowed it down to two. Committee members looked at the curricula other districts have been using.

Parisi said Math in Focus includes the mathematical practices up front, and allows teachers to set a pace and provide flexibility depending on their students.

Brian Peldunas, who has a daughter in fourth grade at Riverside School, has long pushed the district to begin reviewing the math curriculum. He was one of seven parents on the committee, which also included several teachers, principals and administrators.

Peldunas has said Everyday Math doesn’t allow students to master basic skills. The curriculum continuously revisits topics without allowing students to master them, and doesn’t give students enough practice in basic number facts.

Math in Focus, he said, devotes enough time to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and provides appropriately challenging world problems. The text book is also simple and focused, with little distractions, he said.

Peldunas said the review process worked well, and at times he worked directly with teachers to evaluate the programs.

“Could we have gone into much more detail and examined everything to the nth degree? Yes, but it would have taken us an entire year,” Peldunas said. “Given what we had to accomplish, it was a very good process to get us to a conclusion.”

School board member Jennifer Dayton said she was “thrilled” the district was making the change, but was disappointed that they were delaying the implementation in the middle school for budgetary reasons.

“Remember, those people had to go through Everyday Math for all those years, and are coming into a middle school environment that already looks different, in terms of mathematics,” Dayton said.

Parisi said the district has already been doing work to align curriculum to the common core standards, and high school staff has been working with staff at the middle schools to help prepare students for taking algebra.


Filed under Uncategorized

11 responses to “Riverside’s Brian Peldunas wins one for the kids

  1. Anonymous

    Way to Go Brian!
    Congratulations on a job well done!

    Life is good on the farm! And the math is good at the new school as well!

  2. stedenko


  3. Anonymous

    Thank you Brian,
    My oldest starts kindergarten this Fall.
    Well done, and drinks are on me if we meet.

    Again, super work & thank you thank you!

  4. Anonymous

    Hilarious side note:
    7 Ronald Lane
    For sale by owner
    The photos are beyond laughable.
    The owner is holding the camera in two of the shots, and fails to realize she’s also in the photo herself.
    And her asking price is obviously a bit swollen.


  5. My first son was not subject to everyday math. Now he is studying Electrical Engineering at RPI. My second son is in ninth grade at GHS and for him math is an uphill battle. Many of the children who are doing well in school are doing well because their parents had the kids tutored in elementary and middle school.

  6. anonymous

    One of these days they might realize its not the all about the curriculum and that maybe its expecting one teacher to instruct 20-25 students of all different abilities in one class at the same time. In one class, you can have kids struggling to master concepts from 2 grades before and kids who missed the ALP class by one point (and everything in between). Differentiation and small group instruction expectations are the bigger problem. The refusal to allow regrouping for math in k-5 needs to be studied as part of the review.
    We got lucky, had smaller then normal classes because of the way the number fell. EDM from Kindergarten to now and she’s thriving so it can work without tutoring. And once they hit middle school, its pre-algebra and algebra so the EDM vs. Singapore is less of an issue I think. The algebra I see is the same algebra we learned.

  7. AJ

    MSNBC Host: Your Kids Belong to the Collective
    In the video below, college professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry says your children are not yours – they are owned by the community. She says public education has failed because we have not allowed the state to confiscate more of our money….


  8. peg

    We need more like Mr. Peldunas.

  9. New Buyer

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Everyday Math is a horror show. Smart, engaged children are struggling with math and have lost all confidence in their ability. The spiraling concept was a killer — addition one day, money the next, decimals the third day. Children need to master basic math skills so they can go on to advanced math in the future. If you can’t add, subtract and multiply with ease, you can’t do fractions and division and algebra later on. Singapore Math more than any other system understands this and emphasizes this. Kuddos and a HUGE thank you for all who pushed this forward.

  10. Brian BTN


    Thank you for your kind words and your support.

    Many people have been involved in, and/or very supportive of, the effort to bring about this change:
    – the Board of Education, who listened carefully and asked the right questions,
    – Dr. Lulow, who got the process going, and Dr. McKersie, who kept it going,
    – the parents, teachers, principals and administrators who participated in the curriculum review,
    – Brenda Brush and Irene Parisi, who guided the process, and
    – the parents and teachers who provided input and background, as well as encouragement.

    This is an example of why Greenwich is such a great place to live. People all across the spectrum (from Chris Fountain to Bob Horton – seldom see those two have something in common) saw a problem impacting our students and worked to fix it. We owe our children an education worthy of Greenwich.