Discussion forum is the answer

Town and Village
January 25, 2001

by Denise Matava Haffenden

The T & V article "Parents and teachers search for solutions to math problems," implies that a solution is needed, but unfortunately, the district doesn't think there is a problem.

Attend the January 30 School Board meeting (333 Seventh Avenue, 7th floor at 6:30 pm) that Karen Feuer has invited parents to attend and see what happens. Then you will learn what the problem is - it's the parents coming to talk about math!

The director of math in District Two says, "In my view, it's a small number of parents that have concerns and those tat have been raised are being addressed."

I wrote to Karen Feuer the day the article appeared asking which of my concerns were being addressed since I was not aware that any I've raised had been.

At every school board meeting I've attended, math is the only question being brought up by parents. But the School Board finds as many excuses as possible to show why those of us that show up represent a minority.

Parents across District Two are forced to supplement their children's public school education with tutoring at home or outside tutoring. Even John Crossman, a school board member, publicly state art the January 9 meting that he tutors his child and that he doesn't understand the math homework given at school.

As far as teachers are concerned, they are mandated to follow the program. Teachers in the community regularly tell parents to do the math only the way the district wants it done. Many teachers won't openly talk about their disagreement with the math program for fear of reprisal.

So what is the lesson parents learn? Attend School Board meetings, go to school leadership teams, jump through all the hoops the district uses to show how they involve parents. But in the end, it is all show.

The district is making program decisions based on the agenda of those handing them the grant money, not based on the needs of our children.

At the January 30 meeting, ask the Board members why they approved the math programs. Then ask them why they don' want a math forum where parents can talk openly about their concerns in a unified forum. Steve Sanders expressed support for District Two parents' rights for a forum at a January 19 meeting with PTA reps, but the School Board doesn't, they voted to cancel the meeting. Why?

Denise Matava Haffenden is a parent who lives in Peter Cooper Village

Reproduced with permission from Town and Village.

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