Email to Mr. J. D. LaRock of NY1 News
From Denise Matava Haffenden
January 29, 2001
Dear Mr. LaRock:
I am a parent from a school in District 2 who is extremely unhappy with the response of the School Board and the District to parents concerns regarding the math program. They have "institutionalized" an across the board math curriculum that many parents have found to be deficient in many areas. There is going to be a School Board Meeting tomorrow night, January 31 at 6:30 at 333 Seventh Avenue, 7th Floor where parents will be voicing their concerns. Some of the concerns are:
1. Many parents are being forced to supplement their childrens' education with tutoring or at home work to make up for the deficiencies in this program. For some this is a financial burden, for others it is a time burden, since it is in addition to homework.
2. Because all the schools in District 2 have been mandated to adopt the same program, which is literacy based, we have a one size fits all district. For example: children in Chinatown have difficulty with the literacy portion of the math program and in effect are penalized on the tests because they can't "write" about math.
3. Since the entire District has mandated "one shoe size for math" if a parent is not happy with the curriculum, there is no other school to turn to. The School Leadership Teams are dictated to, so they write their Comprehensive Education Plans so they comply with what the district wants, not what the school feels fits their population. The idea of parent involvement is for parents to "rubber stamp" what has been chosen for them. Furthermore, since parents in other districts get first choice at the best school in their district, the opportunity to move around the city is nil, and we are forced to stay in District 2. School choice in effect is nonexistent.
4. The District reports that they were looking for a new math curriculum, and "simulatenously" they received a grant for this math program. Once again, parents are wondering, why the District is so wedded to this program, if parents are unhappy. What was the basis for this program being picked. They have never divulged by what criteria they chose this curriculum. Since the children do not get textbooks or workbooks, I can't accuse them of making a deal with a textbook publisher. So in the face of criticism from parents and NYU math professors, why are they insisting this program is the best?
Of course, I could go on and on. I work for the Board of Education and chose a public school for my kid, having faith in the system. His teachers are good, the school is well run, it is safe, and in the neighborhood. But District 2 mandates are forcing me to rethink this choice. I will either be forced to send my child to a private school or spend "oodles" on supplementary teaching. As an opponent on vouchers, I am also forced to rethink this issue, based on the District's stance. There are statistics and research to back up the parents stand.
If you are interested, please contact me at [...]. Or come to the meeting tomorrow night! This is happening in the one of the best districts in Manhattan. What happens in the rest of the system?
Denise Matava Haffenden
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