New York City Board of Education

Postponed Regular Calendar Meeting

Wednesday, January 23, 2002


Testimony of Elizabeth Carson

Parent, Community School District Two




Re: New Matters


Item #1 Authorization to enter into boardwide requirements agreements with eligible providers for the provision of instructional and professional development services in mathematics, (RFP serial no. 1B647)



Item #2 Authorization to enter into a boardwide requirements agreement with Technical Education Resource Center (TERC) to provide professional development services in mathematics (*see my note  below))


Chancellor Levy, President Segarra and Members of the Board:


I urge you to vote against the approval of the proposed contracts with any Vendors offering instructional and professional development services in mathematics that provide teacher training in constructivist practice, or that support the use of any experimental NCTM Standards-based program, including, but not limited to, TERC, Everyday Mathematics (Chicago Math), CMP, Math in Context, ARISE, IMP, Math Connections and Math Trailblazers


RFP #1B647 specifies in descriptions of the services requested, under Scope of Services, Components 1 and 3, inclusion of models and activities that support constructivism; support for “NSF programs or “NSF validated programs” (* see note below); alignment with the NCTM Standards; and with the New York City Editions of the New Standards Performance Standards in Mathematics, which in turn are based on, and fully endorse, the NCTM Standards


Item #2 proposes a contract with TERC, for professional development called “TERC’s Investigations Workshops for Transforming Mathematics” 


Chancellor Levy and Members of the Board: these proposals are about spending $ 9 million dollars to support experimental math programs parents do not want.  


You have received compelling letters and testimony from concerned parents, mathematicians and scientists. You have been provided many references with which to inform yourselves of the controversial aspects of the NCTM reform, their failure to improve student achievement in other parts of the country, and specifically the critical deficiencies in the mathematical content of the NCTM Standards-based programs.


The Commission’s draft report clearly articulated the limitations of the mathematics programs extant in District 2 (and in many other NYC school districts)

(quote):”Whenever an emphasis is placed on ensuring that applications are made to ‘real world’ situations, time must be made available not only for the mathematical ideas, but also for the application of these ideas. The net effect of these applications is that less emphasis is placed on arithmetical or mathematical ideas, and the formal, abstract contextual settings sought particularly by students who will go on to become scientists, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicians, and educators of mathematics.”


The Commission draft report also articulates the limitations of the National Council of Teachers of  Mathematics Standards: (quote) “Despite their many strengths, the NCTM Standards do not contain the rigor, algorithmic approach, formal methods, and logical reasoning which are required of this small but critically important portion of the population.”


The more rigorous option advised by the Math Commission is one that must begin in the elementary grades and continue through the high school level, and must be supported first and foremost with professional development in mathematics for teachers at all grade levels, not training in constructivist teaching practices.  The rigorous K-12 mathematics continuum is an option that should be in place in EVERY district and available to ALL students and supported with what little funds the Board has to spend


I wonder if the parents whose children’s teachers will receive the proposed Vendor’s services will be informed of your presumption that their children are not college material and are therefore good candidates for the watered down, deficient NCTM Standards-based “math appreciation” programs your RFP solicits.



Note: The RFP # 1B647 includes at least two misrepresentations of the experimental NCTM Standards-based math programs, describing them as “National Science Foundation mathematics curricula,” (Section 3: Scope of Services, Component 1: Real World Mathematics) and “National Science Foundation validated mathematics curricula.” (Section 3: Scope of Services, Component 3: Mathematics Professional Development Services)  I have attached a letter, dated February 12, 2001 from Judith Sunley, Interim Assistant Director of the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources indicating the NSF does not validate, endorse or own school mathematics program.

In addition, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that TERC stands for Technical Education Research Center, so described in the September 24, 1997 testimony of Barbara Sampson, then president of TERC, to the US House of Representatives.  


Thank you