PALMER — The Mat-Su Borough School Board will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on May 20 with only three action items.
Before the board will be a motion to rescind their vote from April 22 to remove five controversial books and the New York Times Learning Network from Creative Writing classes, a spring budget revision and a motion to increase the contract award to Ficklin construction for snow plowing and ice removal.
The board’s action on April 22 amended the high school English curriculum by removing “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. On May 6, the school board heard more than three hours of public comment featuring 58 members of the public before adjourning at 10 p.m.
The Mat-Su Educators Association were asked and will be participating in a protest in the Mat-Su School District office building parking lot during the time of the meeting for a list of 10 reasons including the removal of books and lack of vote on advancing middle school math curriculum.
“I think that we do a disservice to the community when we spend too much time when we have had experts do this. We have had experts run through this we have had, I believe about 100 parents involved in this. We are saying that they're not worthy or valuable when we take it out of their hands. Yes we are supposed to approve this but I think that we are doing things that are actually detrimental to education when we decide that we are better than the experts,” said Board Member Sarah Welton.
School board members had asked for comparisons between the new math curriculum and the old standards and directed the MSBSD administration not to align with state common core standards.
“We vote on it. It’s our vote and if we question through our experience or whatever we have a right to do that,” said Board Member Ole Larson.
Larson and Board Member Jim Hart objected to Welton’s comments and motion to hold a work session prior to the scheduled meeting on May 6.
“If you guys didn’t look at the materials and you didn't look at it yourselves and evaluate it and go and do the research, I can’t help you with that so I will withdraw,” said Welton.
Board member Ryan Ponder said that he felt the motion was inappropriate. MSBSD Superintendent Dr. Monica Goyette said that Hart had directed her in March not to deal with the math curriculum.
“We had asked for specific feedback on what you would like us to present. One of the things that We were directed to do was to not follow Alaska state standards so that put us in a real bind and is very challenging. We went through the outlying process that you have in the board, we had layers of stakeholder reviews and math experts that we brought in. Whether or not you approve the curriculum is completely your choice,” said Goyette. “We need direction.”
The math curriculum was not approved at the April 22 meeting.