Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials say a YouTube video posted by a local activist unfairly portrays an administrator as being unconcerned if a student gives an incorrect math answer during her presentation to parents about common core state standards.
The video clip, which is attracting national attention, features comments made in late July by District 46 Curriculum Coordinator Amanda August. District 46 spokeswoman Leslie Armstrong McLeod said the school system and August have been unfairly attacked and misrepresented based on a fragment of her 30-minute talk.
All Illinois school districts are required to tailor curriculum to common core standards starting with the 2013-14 academic year. The standards are clear benchmarks for what pupils should learn in each grade -- from prekindergarten through senior year of high school -- in mathematics and English language arts.
August said Thursday that several negative emails, social media postings and telephone messages resulted after the YouTube clip ran on a Fox News program and was picked up by other national outlets this week. She said she's appreciated the support of district administrators, school board members and teachers in the wake of the personal attacks.
"I thought I was just going to be educating the parents on some of the changes coming down the pipe for common core," she said.
At issue is the 43-second clip posted by political activist Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach for ChampionNewsOnline. It has attracted more than 155,000 views. It focuses on an example August provided as part of her response to a parent question about the math curriculum shift for fifth through eighth grades. Under common core, August said, instructors now will be more concerned about how a student arrives at an answer.
"But even under the new common core, even if they said three times four was 11, if they were able to explain their reasoning, and explained how they came up with their answer really in words and in oral explanations and they showed it in the pictures and they just got the final number wrong? We're really more focusing on the how and the why," August said during the town hall forum at Frederick School in Grayslake.
While the YouTube headline says "Common Core: 3 * 4 = 11 is okay", it appears to be contradicted when the woman who posed the original question followed up by asking if students with the wrong math answer would be corrected.
"Oh, absolutely. Absolutely," August said. "We want our students to compute correctly, but the emphasis is really moving more toward the explanation and the how and the why and can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer and not just knowing that it's 12, but why is it 12. How do I know that?"
Jarratt said he can't control perceptions of the video he recorded at the public meeting and posted. He contends August implied the wrong math answer would be accepted in her response to the parent's follow-up question.
"She goes back to her talking points of the how and the why being important," Jarratt said Thursday.
District 46 school board President Steven Strack said he believes the clip was intentionally distorted as part of a campaign against common core state standards. He said the personal attacks against August are wrong.
"There was nothing she said in that presentation that merited being portrayed as it has been," said Strack, who attended the forum.
Officials said District 46 would be in jeopardy of losing more than $5 million in annual state funding if it didn't adopt the common core standards.
August, who said she's been trying to ignore the commentary from the viral video, left St. Anastasia Catholic School in Waukegan for a District 46 teaching job before the 2011-12 academic year. She was elevated to the curriculum coordinator post before the 2012-13 school season ended.
"I'm going to present facts and information and I'm not going to stop making presentations to parents," she said.
District 46 has video of all 30 minutes of the parent forum on its website.
Jarratt said those who view the clip he posted also will find a link to the entire meeting.