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 12, 2001


Honorable Eva Moskowitz

New York City Council

Fourth District- Manhattan

Attn: Tiffany Lacker, Legislative Aide


Re: Actions of Community School Board Two, Manhattan




Dear Councilmember Moskowitz,


At the January 9, 2001 working/business session of Community School Board Two

(CSB #2) the Board voted (7 in favor, 1 opposed, Martinez absent) to disband the math forum planning committee and to cancel the math forum. In an addendum to the main proposal, future consideration by the school board to sponsor a districtwide math forum of some kind will be contingent upon progress reports by  Interim Acting Superintendent Shelley Harwayne, Director of Mathematics, Lucy West and the Math Commission convened by Chancellor Levy. There was no timeline established for the anticipated reports or the “second look” at Board sponsorship of a math forum.


Your letter, written to CSB#2 President Karen Feuer on behalf of CSD #2 parents, in which you expressed support  for a math forum, was not addressed during the short discussion prior to the vote.


The one opposing vote was cast by Mary Somoza. She was the only Board member who spoke, with respect to the original board commitment to a math forum and to the original intent, advocating the preservation of Board sponsorship of a democratic, fair and open, districtwide public discussion and debate, that would allow a variety of opinions among education and mathematics experts and parents to be shared. Ms Somoza is to be commended for demonstrating, through her words and vote, recognition of the school board’s responsibility to support parents’ rights to be fully informed of the issues regarding education initiatives and to support vital parent engagement in the implementation of curricular reform.


It is noteworthy, that though most school board members and Interim Superintendent Shelley Harwayne have publicly acknowledged they do not in fact know the nature and extent of parent concerns about the math programs, nor the nature and extent of the supplementation and tutoring parents have in the past and are currently providing; there are at this time no plans to survey the parents or hold special hearings wherein the Board and district administrators could become informed on these issues.


The one gesture the board has made toward learning more about parent concern and perspectives is the intention of some board members to attend school based math nights, scheduled for the remainder of this year, at the schools to which they are assigned  as board liaisons. Although such visits are most appropriate at any time and may serve to both inform and engage board members with local school communities; these ad hoc visits do not serve as a replacement for what the board committed to provide parents last spring.


It is evident that the majority of the board has taken an extremely anti-parent stance.

CSB #2 has demonstrated an alarming level of disregard for their constituents in the recent vote to close down districtwide discussion; and also by their inaction to truly educate themselves about the curricula, and their egregious positioning of themselves as  knowing best” for the parents based on cursory math presentations by the Director of Mathematics and promises by district administrators to look into the issues. Most disheartening, perhaps, and indeed most telling is the Board’s utter dismissal of the letters, testimony and research materials they’ve received from parents, teachers and NYU mathematicians over the past year on this issue -  lending a “deaf ear” to the pleas from parents to take notice, lead the way, and help support the responsibility we all share to honorably and effectively participate in our children’s educational experiences in the public school system.


We, the CSD #2 community are in dark days indeed.



Elizabeth Carson


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

       Councilmember Christine Quinn

       State Assemblyman Steve Sanders

       State Assemblymember Deborah Glick

       State Senator Tom Duane