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

New York City Council Testimony
Committee on Education
November 5, 2003

Jonathan Goodman, Professor of Mathematics
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University

Let me begin by thanking the Committee for holding these hearings. I am a Professor of Mathematics at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, which is ranked number one nationally in applied mathematics. I co founded the Courant Institute program in Financial Mathematics. My two kids attended New York City Public Schools.

With all due respect to the organizers, these hearings are more a sign of what's wrong than a path to the solution. These hearings were convened to discuss whether the fuzzy math curriculum chosen by the Department of Education is best for our kids. Yet, all the panelists support this curriculum. Is this the world's only controversial issue with only one side?

In my expert opinion, and the opinion of the vast majority of mathematical experts in New York City who have examined the issues, the mathematics curricula and teaching strategies being implemented this year are far from the best possible. Curriculum decisions are being made not on the basis of expert analysis of the possibilities, not on the basis of scientific evidence from systematic studies of what works or doesn't work, not on the basis of what it takes to prepare kids to succeed in college and technical careers, not even on the basis of what is cost effective, but by an ingrown clique of educrats whose unscientific opinions are being discredited around the country, from California to Massachusetts, and whose last major stronghold, alas, is New York City. The sooner we follow these states and implement a rigorous curriculum and oversight process, the better off New York City kids will be.

I'm sure my two minutes are up. If you want to learn more, consult the web site www.nychold.com. Thank you.

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