December 1, 2000


Michael Kasloff

New Explorations into Science Technology and Math


By Email


Dear Mr Kasloff,


I was grateful for the opportunity to attend a recent open house for the new public K-12 school, New Explorations into Science technology and Math in Community School District 1.  I was impressed with many aspects,  and particularly the partnering with community, business and institutions of higher learning. This kind of collaborative effort to share expertise and  resources in support of  public schools holds great potential to improve our city's system. The partners are impressive. I think the school holds much promise.


Celenia Chevere is a highly respected professional. As I know you are aware, she founded several very successful schools including the Neighborhood School, which my son attended.  Ms Chevere  is known for her devotion to the students and families she serves and for her understanding and attention to  diverse educational needs


Parents in District 2 are seeking new school options for their children, particularly in middle and high school. As we all are aware, there aren’t enough seats in the better schools. The district can not nearly accommodate all the elementary and middle school students who wish to attend our middle and high schools. We need more Stuyvesants AND we need  quality  neighborhood schools at all levels. The offering of a neighborhood K-12 school continuum is particularly attractive to many parents I know. I wish there were currently plans for more models like yours.


As I shared with you at Tuesday night’s orientation, I have grave reservations about the math curricula your school plans to implement, especially in light of your schools’ particular focus in science and math.  TERC, CMP and ARISE are very controversial programs, as I know you are aware. District 2 parents are very unhappy about their use.


The programs are based on an ideology that limits  teachers’ freedom  to adequately train students in basic arithmetic, algebra and standard components of pre-college high school mathematics.   The programs do not fully address the skills students will require for the citywide CTB Math test or the NY state 4th and 8th grade test.  I have been recently informed that the new state 8th grade science test requires a significant level of mathematical knowledge. Middle school science teachers at my  son' current school are very concerned that our 8th graders have not and are not likely to become adequately prepared for science coursework and assessments with our middle school program, CMP.


To expect teachers, many who will be new to teaching and many who have limited math backgrounds, to skillfully use primarily constructivist teaching practices; with programs that lack a coherent structure, with vague grade by grade content standards and no clearly established system of assessment is extremely ill- considered. Additionally, the fact that the programs are heavily based in literacy exercises and have no texts in the elementary and middle school grades; combined with the probability that a significant portion of your parent population will have cultural and linguistic roots that may well prevent both their wholehearted endorsement of constructivist instruction and  limit their capacity to support the work at home, make dim the prospects for a productive school/parent partnership.


The aforementioned issues, together clearly suggest a need for either a well considered plan for systemic supplementation in all grades or replacement of the programs with superior programs.


In our first conversation I suggested you consider Singapore Math, which you can view at Many university mathematicians and scientists, who have become engaged in discussions regarding the present K-12 NCTM math reform, strongly endorse this program. It is rigorous and balanced, offering coherent address of conceptual development, problem solving and skills mastery.


I also suggest you consider the California list of approved math texts.  See The programs are aligned with the new California Mathematics Content Standards, which are considered world class.. See


The California Standards  have been widely endorsed by members of the education, mathematics  and high technology business communities;

among them:


John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Systems, Inc


Thomas Proux, author, Quicken software


Heidi Roizen, Former Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations, Apple Computer Inc


Heidi Glidden, Research staff, Educational Issues, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and research analyst, Making Standards Matter(AFT,1996) (AFT)


Harold Stevenson, Director, Ethnographic Case Studies Project, Third International Mathematics and Science Study


Richard Schoen, Stanford University, Member, Commission on the Future of the Standards, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) National Research Council (NRC)


Jaime Escalante, Mathematics Teacher, High School, Sacramento (Mr Escalante’s teaching of Advanced placement calculus at Garfield High School in East LA was the basis of the motion picture Stand and Deliver)


Frank Allen, Former President of the NCTM


Shoumen Datta, PhD, Chair National Task Force on Basic Mathematics and Science Competencies (sponsored by the US Departments of Commerce, Labor and Education)


Edward L Anderson, PhD, Former Chief, Chemical Separations Branch, US Atomic Energy Commission


David Levinson, Staff Aerospace Engineer, Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale


Thank you for your time and attention to  my concerns about the math curricula you plan to use at New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math. I hope we might perhaps have further conversations about math education in the very enar future.


I extend to you again an open invitation meet and consult with a group of distinguished NYU mathematicians and scientists who have become interested in participating in NYC mathematics education reform initiatives


I wish you and Celenia Chevere the best, in establishing an exemplary school in CSD #1.




Best regards,


Elizabeth Carson



Cc Chancellor Harold O Levy