Public Agenda Meeting
Testimony of Elizabeth Carson
Re: Item # 12 Request for a lease
of the premises located at
Chancellor Levy, President Segarra and Members of the Board:
I’m grateful for the opportunity
to speak to the resolution before you, the approval of a lease of the Southeby’s
warehouse; with premises intended to house a new high school, to be governed by
I support Board approval of the
lease of the building. However, I have grave reservations with the proposal to
I make this recommendation with a sense of sadness and a sense of lost opportunity. I am a District 2 parent and hold District 2 administrators and teachers in very high regard. There are many among them of exceptional caliber. The districts’ exemplary leadership and professional development models are recognized nationwide. However, the districts’ decisions regarding the high school, that were recently approved by the local school board, on zoning and replication of the curricular policies already in effect for the other district high schools, together, hold a very remote potential to provide for either a neighborhood high school, or one with a rigorous college preparatory program.
The zoning for the high school,
under District 2, will be district-wide. Given the overall geography and the many
neighborhoods within the district, this broad zoning will not necessarily, and in
fact, will unlikely lead to a school with a student population primarily from
College preparatory math and science
The academic program policies under District 2, would severely inhibit the potential for rigorous college preparatory math and science programs. Currently, the district mandates use of one high school math program, ARISE, which must be taught in the first three years in all district high schools, grades 9-11. Though current district policy would allow for provision of AP calculus, chemistry and physics, in the new school it is extremely unlikely these AP math and science programs could maintain their integrity in the next several years, because ARISE does not provide adequate mathematical preparation for these advanced courses. ARISE is not itself, a college preparatory math program These are the conclusions reflected in the combined evaluations and opinions of NYU and CUNY mathematicians, District 2 teachers, Stuyvesant math instructors and members of last year’s Math Commission. Their views have been provided in public documents, discussions with parents, testimony before the District 2 school board, and presentations at the citywide math forum held at NYU, last June.
I quote from the draft report of the Math Commission:
Under Recommendation 2: Establish New Options for grades 9-11 emphasizing formal and abstract mathematical competency for all students who desire them
In referring to aspects of programs, of which ARISE is one, the report states:
“The net effect of these applications is that less emphasis is placed on arithmetical or mathematical ideas, and the formal abstract contextual settings sought particularly by students who will go on to become scientists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicians, and educators of mathematics.”
And connecting the needs of those aspiring to careers in technical fields, with references to the NCTM standards, (which the ARISE program is based on) the report states:
“Despite their many strengths, the NCTM standards do not contain the rigor, algorithmic approach, formal methods and logical reasoning which are required of this small but critically important population.”
A suitable college preparatory program must include preparations for math and science college coursework, which District 2’s math programs simply do not provide.
I have appended the excerpt of the Math Commission draft report, quoted, and one relevant news article.
Parent led campaign
I applaud the efforts and commitment of everyone involved in the five-year effort to establish a high quality neighborhood high school.
Among those most committed, and for the longest time, now, very differing views on the best next steps are held. I hope the Board will be able to facilitate an end result that satisfies, to an acceptable degree, the original goals, for all those who have become so invested in this cause.
I would like to see similar campaigns launched in neighborhoods across NYC. For, I believe the parents’ goals, and devotion to those goals, represent two important keys to the salvation of urban public education.
Excerpt from Draft Report, Commission on Mathematics Education, NYC, 2001, pp 9-10
“Schools’ New Math..,” Carl Campanile, NY Post,