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WCBOE Votes on First Read of Controversial Fishtank Curriculum

The Fishtank Learning Curriculum of poor reviews, political bias, and activism was voted on its 1st read at the April 11, 2023 board meeting. The Wicomico County Board of Education was presented with the Fishtank Learning curriculum to be used for K-5. Many questions were asked by the board, and many questions were answered by the Director of Curriculum and the Supervisor of Reading K-5. Some of those answers were truthful, while others deceptive. Before the administrators were asked questions by the board, the board was presented with fluff and folly, to make it appear that the Fishtank Learning curriculum is the greatest on planet earth.


Deception #1 - The Fishtank Learning Curriculum is FREE


The board was told that the Fishtank curriculum is FREE, and all they have to do is buy the books to use with Fishtank. There was no mention that Fishtank would really cost $660,000, which was discovered here:



Fishtank Learning is not a company that exists for free handouts. Their base curriculum is free, but their add-ons called "Fishtank Plus" to use their courseware and an annual subscription for each teacher has a fee. We know that WCPS is using Fishtank Plus, as the Supervisor of Reading K-5 stated how the units can be customized by adjusting the selection through the Fishtank portal. She also stated that their teachers have access to the additional courseware modules at their Pemberton Cocoa, Cookies, & A Good Book event. In addition, Fishtank also gets a commission from the book supplier. Here is proof that Fishtank is not free:



Deception #2 - The Great Writing Modules


The last exhibit of the presentation demonstrated their PRIME example of what Fishtank writing units have PROUDLY resulted in from a 2nd grade pilot at Prince Street Elementary. We wonder how many board members actually read the run-on sentence full of missing words, punctuation errors, and a misspelling. It's just 2nd grade, right? If this is their best example to proudly showcase Fishtank before the board during the state of an academically-failing school system, then we would question the fitness of those in charge.




Deception #3 - Everybody Loves Fishtank Learning


There were only 15 teachers that had input. Those teachers know very well that if they don't approve of Fishtank, that their supervisor will make life difficult for them. If they want to keep peace or perhaps their job, they have to like it. The DPTC has way more teachers than that who did their homework and don't want Fishtank in our schools.



You can't ask young kids, because they will either love the fuzzy warm stories or think it's too much work. Therefore, student feedback is invalid.




Parent feedback is also invalid, as none of the parents were presented with the actual curriculum. They were presented with a display of titles at a book fair, so they too can feel warm and fuzzy. It's all surface deception.



Deception #4 - We Have Removed The Inappropriate Units


Who determines appropriate? It was stated that administration removed the units that were inappropriate, and the units put before the board for their approval are the only units that WCPS will use. Board member Kristin Hazel asked what would prevent the other units from being used. It was then stated that they will try, but cannot guarantee that those other units won't be used. If fact, it will still happen as stated in the board meeting video. At least the supervisor was honest when addressing that concern.



Of the Proposed Fishtank Units, there are still units on this list that contain political bias and a activism as explained in this article. The question is, why would we want to even use a curriculum that has inappropriate content? Even if we remove content, it's foundational principles still remain unchanged. Also, removing content will create gaps in the curriculum.


Deception #5 - Fishtank Learning Has Rave Reviews


The reviews of FishTank Learning can be found on EdReports and added below, receiving reviews by educators that do not meet expectations. Why would we want a curriculum that doesn't meet expectations in all areas?



When a board member was asked if the WCPS reached out to other schools that have used Fishtank, the answer was "NO."


That's right, they are selecting a curriculum without references. Our children are a social experiment at the expense of the taxpayers and our children's future.


Now you can watch the video from the April 11, 2023 board meeting to see all of this play out.



What was the result of the vote to approve Fishtank for it's First Read by the board? Did they actually read the curriculum to make an informed decision? We know of two board members that did their homework.


For Fishtank: Bonnie Ennis, Allen Brown, Gene Malone, Susan Beauchamp, David Plotts


Against Fishtank: Kristin Hazel, John Palmer


The next board meeting is on May, 9, 2023 at 7:00PM. The 2nd Read vote will determine the final approval of the Fishtank Learning curriculum. If you don't like what they are doing here, you must speak up. Write your board members and call them. No matter if you are a parent, teacher, or taxpayer, it is important that you speak up.


WCBOE Board Members


Gene Malone - gmalone@wcboe.org

Allen Brown - abrown@wcboe.org

Kristin Hazel - khazel@wcboe.org

Bonnie Ennis - bennis@wcboe.org

Susan Beauchamp - sbeaucham@wcboe.org

David Plotts - dplotts@wcboe.org

John Palmer - jpalmer@wcboe.org



Fellows & Editors

April 12, 2023 - Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org



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