Diana Lam's Faddish "Rekindling the Dream"

Letter to the Editor
The New York Times

By Bas Braams
August 29, 2002
(Not published)

Dear Sir:

The appointment of Ms. Diana Lam as Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning looks set to keep the NYC schools in the stranglehold of curricular fads and failures that were the hallmark as well of Dr. Judith Rizzo's tenure, and to strengthen a centralized focus on process over substance.

A strong personal statement of Ms. Lam's vision can be found in her "Rekindling the Dream: A Framework for Reform in the Providence Public Schools", at http://www.providenceschools.org/rkd.cfm

The document is grand on vision and not shy to speak of high standards and expectations for all students, academic rigor, nurturing environments, accountability for results, and systemic reform; but there is no substance behind the words. There is nothing whatsoever about mathematics, science, or humanities curriculum, and only a vision of a focus on literacy. There is, however, an elaboration of the new focus on process, which is to be built around the Standards of Learning(TM) and the LearningWalk(TM) of the Institute of Learning of the University of Pittsburgh. These Standards are familiar to some NYC Districts already and represent the cultist fads of whole language literacy and constructivist mathematics.

Bas Braams
Research Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University

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