NYC Honest Open Logical Debate (NYC HOLD)

On Math Reform

Elizabeth Carson  Christine Larson, Co-Founders


Phone: 212.529.1302  Fax: 212.529.0062  E-Mail:



January 8, 2000


Honorable Eva Moskowitz

New York City Council

Fourth District- Manhattan

Attn: Tiffany Lacker, Legislative Aide


Re: Letter to Community School Board #2 President Karen Feuer




Council Member Moskowitz,


We are heartened by, and wish to thank you very much for your endorsement of a CSB #2 sponsored math forum for parents,  expressed in your letter to Ms Feuer, dated December 19, 2000.


As you are aware, the board originally made a most honorable commitment to the parents in District 2 to host a math forum on their behalf, where parents would have the opportunity to become informed on the views held by both math educators and mathematicians regarding the new math programs our district is implementing. The board accurately assessed the need for a forum affording an opportunity for parents to share their views and pose questions regarding our programs to a  panel of experts of differing opinions, reflecting the range of views conveyed in the national discussions the math reform has inspired. The fundamental goal of the forum was to educate and support parent engagement, to lay a foundation for parents to actively and productively contribute to the development of mathematics education for their children.


As you know, many of the board members have now rescinded their original commitment to those goals evidenced in a motion and deliberations to cancel the forum, presently still scheduled for March 1, 2001. Further planning and organizing for the forum has been put on “hold.”


In the interim, our children continue to receive a weak, unbalanced and seriously compromised math education.


Steps have been outlined by our Interim Acting Superintendent Shelley Harwayne for how she plans to initiate a comprehensive investigation of the current state of  math education across the district:

·        Classroom walkthroughs

·        Visits to school based math nights

·        Math curricular discussions at meetings with principals

·        Appointment of a parent educator for the Chinatown schools

·        Implementation of math mini-lessons

·        Recommend  scheduling of math classes in morning sessions, five times per week

·        Look into extended day math classes

·        Strategies to evaluate programs and implementation 

1.      investigate how and at what points standard procedures (algorithms) are being taught

2.      assess program alignment with city and state standardized tests student performance indicators

3.      assess the need for supplementation and current levels and kinds of supplementation of the programs initiated by staff across grades and schools

4.      assess the extent to which students are receiving outside tutoring provided by parents and the qualities of the tutoring

5.      consult with the director of mathematics to assess the correlation between student test performance and the level of training teachers have received

6.      investigate language issues the programs raise, most relevant to English language learners

·        Visit math classrooms outside District 2 in NYC and NYS; suggested District 26 might be good starting point


Though details of how Interim Superintendent Harwayne’s goals shall be expedited are sketchy, it appears to us that there is great opportunity for parent and teacher involvement in her research and development; and that the forum is not inconsistent with her plans, nor would the event conflict with or denigrate her efforts. Quite the contrary, both the planned district wide survey of parents and the presentations and discussions at the forum itself would serve to inform her research in many of the focus areas she has identified.


You interest and support are greatly appreciated by the parents in CSD #2.


Best regards,

Elizabeth Carson

Christine Larson


Cc: Steering Committee Members, NYC HOLD

       CSB #2

       Acting Superintendent Shelley Harwayne

       Chancellor Harold Levy

       Dr Judith Rizzo

       Dr Irving Hamer

       Burton Sacks

       Trudy Irwin