By Elizabeth Carson
Submitted to The New York Sun
Edited version was published August 29, 2002
The children of Bronx Community School District 10 are the winners in the seminal math resolution just passed by School Board 10. ("On Way Out, Community Board Assails 'Fuzzy Math'," August 26, 2002) The board's decision to marginalize the use of ' fuzzy' constructivist math programs imported from Manhattan District 2, and instead offer a core of traditional college preparatory K-12 math programs, is a giant leap in the right direction.
School Board 10 members are be commended for placing first and foremost the educational needs of the children, and for responding to the values and standards of the community they were elected to serve.
District 2 parents, Stuyvesant instructors, and NYU and CUNY mathematicians and scientists have pleaded with local officials and school board members to reconsider use of the constructivist programs. Parents' experiences, and the expert opinion and research of educators and mathematicians has offered district officials clear and irrefutable evidence the fuzzy programs fail to provide the proper foundation in the elementary and middle grades, leave students poorly prepared for high school math and science courses, and will severely limit their future options to enter math based college courses and majors.
District 2 officials have responded with arrogant "we know best" rebuttals and sometimes outright hostile denouncements.
Many openly regard District 2's choice of experimental and highly controversial math programs to be most closely connected to multimillion dollar grants for fuzzy teacher training and research, ratherthan to considerations of the best approaches to teach students math.
Despite sustained concerns from the community, District 2 officials will likely continue to mouth allegiance to constructivist math education theory, and hide behind vague claims to have modified or tweaked the math programs, until the grants run out.
In the meantime, District 2 parents will continue to supplement and tutor their children outside of school. Afterschool programs offering traditional math instruction will thrive And, the most knowledgeable, experienced senior teachers still in the system, and willing and able to defy district administrators' fuzzy math mandate, will close their classroom doors and teach real math.
District 2 does not offer a model for systemic math reform worthy of emulation anywhere in the city.
Rather, District 2 offers a model of dysfunction in the NYC public educational system: one where parents and classroom teachers have no voice, where trendy ed school ideology prevails, where local politics protects the status quo, obscures truth and enables corruption, where grants and professional glory for being on the cutting edge count for more than the provision of quality instruction, and where the educational needs of the children have been grossly obscured.
I sincerely hope the School Board 10 math resolution, and the reasons for its wisdom and necessity, are given the full attention of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein.
District 2 parent
Co-Founder, NYC HOLD Honest Open Logical Debate on math reform
A coalition of concerned parents, teachers, mathematicians and scientists working to improve mathematics education in NYC schools
Return to the NYC HOLD main page or to the News page or to the Letters and Testimony page.