Testimony at School Mathematics Education Hearing of NYC Council Education Committee, November 5, 2003

Edmond David
New York City

To The Standing Committee on Education:

I am sorry I could not attend your meeting of November 5 but I hope I can share with you my own experience of math education in NYC. I am the father of a 5th grade boy attending public school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. You may find my experience an interesting contrast to what I know you heard from other parents.

I knew from the beginning that if my son was going to have an effective math education, I could not depend upon the schools and I would have to attend to it myself. I do it by paying no attention, whatsoever, to what his school is doing and I lead him through what, to knowledgeable eyes, looks like a normal course of study in mathematics.

How is it working? My son is in the cohort of students whose 4th grade statewide math exam results were recently published, to great acclaim. He wrote a perfect test. I.e., the test could not measure his actual achievement which is, in fact, several years ahead of what sadly passes for normal, these days.

You may think that my experience is not instructive because my son may be exceptional in some ways. Not so! He is, of course, a bright boy, but I know, as a matter of fact, that many children can work at his level and that any normal child can achieve much higher levels of mathematical competence than what is shamefully acceptable, these days. It is my strong belief that the astonishing difference in math achievement between my son and most of his peers is a measure of the failure of the NYC public schools.

It makes no personal difference to me what stupid, destructive pedagogical experiments Diana Lam wants to perpetrate upon the children of NYC, since my son will be unaffected. I guess most middle class children will be shielded from the worst effects because of paid tutors and capable parents.

Needless to say, the burden of these misconceived and ill-advised programs will fall most heavily upon the poor and disadvantaged, where they will do the greatest damage. Your guilt will be great if you do not immediately put a stop to this lunacy.

Yours truly,

Edmond David

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