"Debate about the Merits of the TERC Curriculum Would not Be Productive"

HAROLD O. LEVY, Chancellor

January 24, 2001
Ms. Elizabeth Carson
via facsimile

Dear Ms. Carson:

I am in receipt of your letter dated January 12 and 16, 2001 and their attachments regarding a math forum in Community School District 2. I have spoken with Superintendent Harwayne about this matter and agree that a debate about the merits of the TERC curriculum would not be productive at the current time.

Superintendent Harwayne informs me that the District is taking steps to improve the quality of instruction in the district. In the field of Mathematics, District 2 has five of the top ten performing schools on the state standardized test in Mathematics in 4th and 8th grade and, overall, ranks second of all the districts in New York City. Nonetheless, she has taken a number of steps to address concerns that have been raised by District 2 parents in the area of Mathematics: the district has held over 20 Math Nights throughout the District to listen to parents and explain the math curriculum being implemented in the District; she has stressed them importance of mathematics with District 2 principals by making it the topic of discussion at the monthly principals' meeting; in her visits to District schools, she has been paying particular attention to the Mathematics area; she has met with Mathematics professors from New York University to show them how the Mathematics curriculum is used in District 2 and to discuss questions and concerns about the curriculum in order to improve the delivery of instruction; as well as other actions as you have noted in your letter to Councilmember Eva Moskowitz dated January 8th.

I also note that I have established a citywide math commission, comprised of experts in the field, to study the most effective means of teaching mathematics to our students. A report will be issued shortly by the Commission, which should shed additional light on this subject. While I appreciate your interest to having a debate on the proper approach to teaching math, I believe that it would serve our students better if we took the types of actions described above, rather than engaging in an ideological debate about the relative benefits of one curriculum versus another. I believe that District 2 has been careful to listen and respond to concerns expressed by parents and others and is implementing its math curriculum in the best interests of its students.

Harold Levy

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