After years of discussion and analysis, the Anacortes School District has a new curriculum for its middle and high school math classes and for elementary English language arts.

The district’s Board of Directors approved the new math and English programs during its meeting Thursday, Aug. 13.

The search for math curriculum started early in the 2019-20 school year. Staff spent 13 days meeting during the year to look over different programs, said district Director of Teaching and Learning Angie Miller.

A team of teachers went to a math conference and took part in several committees before meeting Aug. 4 this year to select Illustrative Mathematics.

Molly Huggins, who teaches math at the middle school, said she has been using this curriculum for three years and loves it. It allows her students to problem solve and approach their math in a meaningful way, she said.

“It’s the best kind of problem solving,” she said. “The problems are so intentional for students’ understanding.”

Kyle Wendling is a special education teacher at Anacortes High School. He said this is the first time in his five years teaching at AHS that he will be provided a math curriculum for his students.

On his own, he has been using Illustrative Mathematics for the last year and a half.

“I’ve seen a lot of success with my students,” he said.

Not everyone was entirely happy with the decision. Tonya Stout, who teaches at the high school, said it was not generally the first choice for the high school math teachers. 

They support the middle school teachers and the decision as a whole, though, she said.

Miller said the committee chose Illustrative Mathematics because of its high scores for usability, effective teaching style and resources for teachers.

The district is also adopting a new English language arts curriculum this year. That process started in July 2018, Miller said.

After working in professional learning communities and working as a committee to go over several curricula, district staff chose EL Education, a program that brings science and social studies in as well, Miller said.

Social-emotional learning was a big part of this curriculum, she said. It’s also engaging and offers opportunities to do a lot of reading and writing in different genres, Miller said.

As the board adopted these new curricula, several people spoke during the public comment of the meeting to say that math and English language arts are not enough.

Maeve McCracken recently hosted an online petition asking the district to look at its social studies curriculum and to bring in more antiracism and anticolonialism. It garnered more than 1,300 signatures, she said.

When she graduated and went to college, she said she didn’t have adequate knowledge or vocabulary to talk about issues of race of equity.

“Our students deserve better,” she said. “I deserved better.”

So she is asking the district to do a full review of its social studies curriculum.

“Our students need to leave the community feeling like they have knowledge of the nation’s history and an understanding of the world we live in,” she said.

She was joined by Keiko McCracken, the Rev. Terry Kylo and City Council member Anthony Young to talk about issues of race and equity in town. They all spoke about how now is the time to bring education and understanding to Anacortes students.

AHS teacher Jessica Pullen supports that.

“We have the courage to teach hard history and to take on difficult challenges, if we are empowered by you,” she said. “We are taking the right steps toward creating a school system better.”

Superintendent Justin Irish thanked everyone for coming to the board meeting and voicing their opinions.

District already has plans to look through all the curricula this year and is introduction programs like Since Time Immemorial, which brings in education created by area tribal communities.

“We will be doing a full review of our social studies curriculum,” he said. “We are 100% committed to working with you.”

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