Same Soup at the Department of Education

Letter to Insideschools
By Denise Matava Haffenden
February 7, 2003

"Here is my problem: I go to the same restaurant every day and get the "Soup of the Day". Every day, the waiter places before me a steaming bowl of soup and announces "cream of mushroom" or "vegetable soup" or "clam chowder". But everyday when I look into that bowl it's only broth, no changes, no variety, but the waiter insists on the name change!

And therein lies my problem. Parents are being served the same soup, same ingredients, but being told it is something different. The same players continue to play this game of education using other people's children.

It disturbs me that a preponderance of the Instructional Division heads are coming from District 2, a place that touts its successes though there has been continued friction for years regarding their "one size fits all" strategy and their aggressive denial of parent dissatisfaction.

As an Educational Evaluator in Manhattan High Schools, I test students daily who have been educated in District 2, students unable to do division or pronounce a difficult word because they've had no instruction in phonics. The curriculum is an abysmal failure unless parents have enough money to get outside tutoring. This is the dirty little secret that gives District 2 its seemingly good scores. I was unable to sacrifice my child to their ideology and therefore left the public school system. There were no options under the one school district I resided in, now there will be no options in all districts whether the number is 32 or 10 under Chancellor Klein and his cadre of "soup chefs".

Denise Matava Haffenden

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