Letter to the Editor, the New York Sun
By Betsy Combier February 6, 2003 (not published)
Since I am not a mathematician, I cannot address the intricacies of the math that Mr. Braams outlined in his February 6 piece "Klein's Math Problem". But I can support him and say I am in awe of Mr. Braams, an accomplished academician, who has dedicated many hours to this issue, and I am convinced he is right in his disdain of the new math curriculum. I too have not subscribed to the "secretive planning" which will bring to our schools the very same math program unsuccessfully imposed on schools in Texas and Rhode Island by Ms. Lam. If Everyday Math failed in both these states, isnt it time to try something else? If Chancellor Klein was not aware of the turmoil Ms. Lam caused in her effort to set up this curriculum, and if he did not know that the curriculum was thrown out when she left, he should have. In New York City, he should have listened to the educators who told him not to choose such a program, and why. He should have listened to teachers in this city who do not believe in this form of math training for young children, and he should have listened to District 2 parents who have almost given up trying to get Superintendant Shelley Harwayne to listen to their protests.
He has not done so.
Leadership is a process in which people create a sense of shared goals as well as a will to make these goals a reality. We all need to examine whether parents and teachers are truly involved in the new Department of Education's policy-making strategies. If we feel we have no input into the decision-making process, we will most surely feel no allegiance to whatever Chancellor Klein decides must be used in the New York City public school system.
We have the right, I believe, to contribute to the decisions being made which will effect our children for years to come. The Open Meetings or "Sunshine" Law went into effect in New York in 1977. Amendments that clarify and reaffirm the right to hear the deliberations of public bodies became effective on October 1, 1979. As stated in the legislative declaration in the Open Meetings Law (section 100): "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy." As I learned in school, those of us who choose to ignore the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them.
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