Many teachers still waiting on textbooks for new city curriculum

Teachers across the city said they still haven’t received all of the textbooks and teaching materials for the new city curriculum aligned with Common Core standards. During the two days of professional development this week, some teachers were told to use old books and curricular materials or to find content online until new materials arrive.

“Without the curriculum set up, and no professional development for it, I have no idea what I’m walking into,” said Ellen Driesen, a teachers union representative for District 20 in Brooklyn.

In August, NY1’s Lindsey Christ reported that most of the new teaching materials had not arrived at schools and that “several teaching guides are scheduled to arrive after schools should have used them,” frustrating teachers’ attempts to plan lessons before the start of the year.

Of the District 20 schools contacted by the union this week, one-third (13 out of 39) reported that some or all of their ordered materials were still missing today, said Alison Gendar, a union spokesperson, who added that not all the schools ordered the new curriculum or responded to her call.

Gendar said that schools had been told by their networks that they would receive materials by this Tuesday, when teachers returned to school.

At P.S. 5 in Brooklyn, the fifth grade teachers were not given the teacher’s manual for the new math curriculum because its publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hasn’t completed it yet, said Camille Eaddy, a District 16 union representative. She said the principal told teachers to access parts of the guide online or to use student workbooks to plan their lesson.

A Bronx middle school teacher said that teachers were promised at a training session this summer that they would have the first unit of the curriculum in hand by July. But her school still hasn’t received all of the books and materials to teach the new Pearson math curriculum.

“To me this is yet another instance of the Dept. of Ed putting the cart before the horse, in this case expecting us to plan our lessons around CMP3 [Pearson’s Connected Math Program 3] without having received the appropriate materials,” wrote the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous.

One special education teacher said only some books have come in at his Washington Heights school, and he has only received manipulatives, the tools associated with the textbooks.

“‘Go with old curriculum until they arrive. We have a three week plan.’ That’s as much as I have gotten, sadly,” he wrote.

Jose Vilson, a middle school math teacher also in Washington Heights, said he also only has the manipulatives, but since he uses a mix of the integrated algebra books, the old Impact textbook and his own teacher-made materials, he will be be fine. He heard that the publisher, Pearson, is still working on the shipments. But Pearson spokeswoman Susan Aspey said the materials were delivered to the city’s distributor on time.

Teacher Katie Lapham also blogged about a truck driver driving off with 300 boxes of Pearson’s ReadyGEN student books after being unable to find someone to help unload the truck.

Department of Education spokesperson Erin Hughes said that the DOE has maintained that the materials would be at schools by the first day of school, and that the two schools in Washington Heights will be receiving their books today.

When asked to explain the delay, Hughes said, “When schools chose which curriculum they wanted back in the spring the rolling timelines were shared so they knew that they would be receiving curriculum on a rolling basis. Some publishers have made materials available online all summer for planning purposes.”