NYC HOLD National: Who We Are



NYC HOLD National (Honest Open Logical Decisions on Mathematics Education Reform) is an education advocacy organization formed originally to address parents' developing concerns with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards-based reform programs adopted in Manhattan Community School District 2. Our coalition has since expanded its focus to address mathematics education throughout New York City schools. NYC HOLD members include parents, educators, mathematicians and other concerned citizens who are committed to improving the quality of K-12 mathematics instruction in NYC.

Many of us owe our current success to the magnificent education we obtained in New York public schools. Many of us have entrusted our children to the public school system. We want our children to receive, as we did, a love of learning, preparation for life, and the foundation for success in college and careers.

We are parents. We have followed our children's experience and progress in NCTM Standards-based mathematics programs and have grown increasingly concerned. We have studied the materials and teaching approaches in our children's schools. Some of us have researched the programs and their use in other regions and found that we are not alone in our concerns, rather, our experiences and worries are shared by parents across the country.

We have been dismayed and frustrated by teachers' reports that their hands are tied, that they're not free to teach with the materials and methods they believe best suited for our children. We have learned that mathematicians and scientists have confirmed our suspicions that the programs lack adequate skills development, important topics, and the rigor necessary to prepare our children for advanced high school math and science courses and pursuit of college math-based courses and majors.

While we value strategies to engage students, that promote understanding and help make the study of mathematics accessible to the broadest number of students, we reject a constructivist approach that (1) de-emphasizes and devalues basic skills mastery (2) denigrates the importance of memorization and practice (3) lacks prescription for regular assessment of skills mastery, conceptual understanding and problem solving (4) promotes literacy skills to a greater degree than mathematical competency (5) is dismissive of the fundamental value of a textbook to provide coherence, and bridge classroom instruction with parent support at home (6) that leaves our children poorly prepared for standardized assessments and entrance examinations for competitive middle school admissions and the specialized math and science high schools (7) that leaves our children bored or hopelessly frustrated.

We believe our children are victims of curriculum experimentation that is imposed without parent choice, without independent review, and without regard for even the most evident near- and long-term damage to our children's education. Our children, many with good grades and praised by their teachers, are left confused and unable to perform the most routine calculations.

Those of us who can afford it, and some who cannot, have spent enormous sums on outside tutoring while achieving only partial success.

We have sought assistance from college mathematics professors, who have without exception or reservation validated our concerns.

We have many times appealed, individually and in group, to district and central board administrators, and have been met with arrogance and hostility.

We want an alternative to the NCTM Standards-based math programs, the choice to enroll our children in coherent, rigorous, college preparatory K-12 mathematics programs.

We are mathematicians. We are professors at New York University, at the seventeen constituent colleges of the City University of New York, and throughout the country. We have examined closely new curricula that have been implemented in New York City and nationwide, and believe firmly that K-12 students subjected to these curricula, including TERC Investigations, Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), and Mathematics, Modeling our World (MMOW/ARISE), will have little if any chance to succeed in even basic mathematics and science courses when they get to college. We are severely critical as well of the Everyday Mathematics program newly mandated in New York City K-5. The Board of Education has insisted on implementing these curricula, based on what is called "constructivist" educational philosophy, despite the fact that they have been denounced by mathematicians locally and nationwide.

The percentage of high school students for whom solid mathematics preparation is a prerequisite for success in college and careers is large and is increasing. We firmly believe that every student is capable of mastering the pre-college mathematics needed for success in college math courses. We contend that the New York City Board of Education has the absolute obligation to provide all of its students with that degree of mastery. For at least thirty years, it has not done so.

During that time, the Board sought little if any input from college mathematics professors responsible for working with graduates of the school system. Particularly troubling are events of the last decade, during which the New York City Board of Education co-operated fully with constructivist educators, whose vision for mathematics education reform threatens to abolish all aspects of traditional mathematics education.

This vision, supported and promulgated to the exclusion of all others by the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics), claims that all students, but especially minorities and women, need a new approach. Their solution, regrettably in our view, is curricula that replace explicit instruction and practice by reliance on calculators, pictures, and models, all to the detriment of traditional skills development. Students are thereby deprived of facility with the algebraic language of mathematics, without which it is impossible to obtain later a true understanding of, or to succeed, in college mathematics. These curricula, all imposed without outside evaluation or consultation with college mathematics departments, are profoundly deficient programs built on a wrongheaded and content-poor ideology of mathematics education.

We are K-12 educators. We are teachers who know and love real mathematics and want nothing more than to teach real mathematics, understand that mathematics does not come naturally. It is a skill which must be taught, developed and practiced.

The constructivist curricula rely on students' discovery of their own solutions and algorithms. In the best of circumstances this only delays learning, and most often it denies students access to the important standard algorithms used over the past hundreds of years.

To downplay the teaching of traditional algorithms is a terrible disservice to all students. The standard methods generalize and scale. In other words, they can be used to solve all problems, small and large, of a particular type. Most of the various methods that the students are taught in the "reform" curricula either don't generalize or are so cumbersome that they put the students at an extreme disadvantage, compared to those students who have been taught the standard algorithms properly and with inclusion of clear explanations as to why they work. Mastery of the standard algorithms provides a basis for the learning of algebra and higher mathematics. Without mastery and understanding, students face an extremely difficult time advancing.

We know that District 2, while claiming marginal improvements in test scores, omits acknowledgement of the oftentimes heroic clandestine contributions of classroom teachers who have chosen, at some professional risk, to defy district constructivist directives, quietly close their doors, and teach their students real math. We know the District 2 test scores also reflect to a large degree the huge investment in outside tutoring by those parents who can afford it. We are aware of the unacceptably low level of achievement and precipitous decline in the scores of students in some heavily poor and minority District 2 schools where supplementation and outside tutoring is far less pervasive.

We are concerned with the modification of city and state testing instruments, which exclude a proper battery of grade-appropriate questions involving basic procedural skills.

We know that in New York City, despite proponents' attempts to claim success, even the elite New York City high schools have seen a decline in the mathematical competence of incoming students from Manhattan District 2, Brooklyn District 15, and other districts that have been using the constructivist curricula for a period of years.

We believe that students should not be forced into inferior constructivist programs in their foundation elementary and middle school training, that leave them unprepared and at a distinct disadvantage in high school math and science classes, and in subsequent college math and science courses and careers. We believe that our capacity to teach mathematics is being severely compromised by inferior "reform" curricula.

In conclusion, we who know, appreciate and teach mathematics are appalled by the disservice being done to a whole generation of our students.

NYC HOLD Founding Committee

Elizabeth Carson, Co-Founder NYC HOLD, NYC parent. Web page.

Christine Larson, Co-Founder NYC HOLD, NYC parent.

Ethan Akin, Department of Mathematics, City College, City University of New York.

Marvin Bishop, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Manhattan College; NYC parent.

Bas Braams, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Emory University. Web page.

Naomi Bushman, NYC parent and private mathematics tutor.

Sylvain Cappell, Department of Mathematics, New York University. Web page.

Edmond David, NYC parent.

Garry Dobbins, NYC parent.

Susan Erlanger, NYC parent.

Robert Feinerman, Chair, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Lehman College, CUNY; Chair, CUNY Council of Math Chairs; and member, Community School Board 10.

Fred Greenleaf, Department of Mathematics, New York University. Web page.

Margaret Hunnewell, NYC parent.

Carol Hutchins, Librarian, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

Charles Newman, Department of Mathematics and Acting Director, Courant Institute, New York University. Web page.

Stanley Ocken, Department of Mathematics, City College of the City University of New York. Web page.

Ralph Raimi, Department of Mathematics, University of Rochester. Web page.

Marvin Rich, NYC science teacher (retired).

Eileen Rodriguez, Department of Mathematics, New York University.

Edmond Schonberg, Department of Computer Science, New York University, and NYC parent.

Marilyn Schorr, NYC parent.

Steve Schwartz, NYC math teacher (retired).

Malcolm Sherman, Department of Mathematical Statistics, SUNY, Albany.

Alan Siegel, Department of Computer Science, New York University. Web page.

Amy Lestner Thomas, NYC parent.

Maureen and Michael Weinberg, NYC parents.

Marjorie Weinman and Mitchell Breit, NYC parents.

Bruce Winokur, YC parent, Stuyvesant High School Mathematics Instructor.

National Advisors

Manuel Berriozábal, Department of Applied Mathematics, The University of Texas at San Antonio. Founder and Executive Director of the San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (1979 - Present), Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program (1986 - Present), and Proyecto Access (1997 - Present). Member, U. S. Department of Education Expert Panel on Mathematics and Science Education (1996 - 2000). Member, BEST (Building Engineering Science and Talent), a Congressional mandated national blue ribbon panel to identify best practices which will increase the participation of girls, members of under-represented minority groups, and students with disabilities in the fields of science, engineering, and technology (2002 - Present). Web page and Presentation.

Wayne Bishop, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, California State University, Los Angeles. Advisory Panel to California Commission on Teacher Credentialing 1988-1991; Mathematics Task Force, Member, State of California 1995; California Assembly Hearings on Mathematics Education, Panelist 1996 ; Content Review Panel, CA approval of mathematics textbooks 1998-99, 2000-01.

Paul Clopton, Research Service, VA Medical Center, San Diego. Co-Founder, Mathematically Correct; member of the Texas TAKS mathematics performance standards panel (2002), the CA Standards Level Setting Panel (1999-present), the CA Standards Tests Mathematics Content Review Panel (1998-present); past member of the CA Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee.

Bill Evers, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Education Policy Advisor to President George W Bush, 2000 campaign and member of the Education Advisory Committee for the transition; Presidential appointment to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars (2001 - present); Member of the National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board (2001 - present); California Commission for the Establishment of Academic Content and Performance Standards (1996 - 1998); Member of the CA content review panels for history and mathematics; Member of the Board of Directors of the East Palo Alto Charter School (1997 - present); Co-Founder, HOLD Honest Open Logical Debate on math reform, Palo Alto. Web page.

Barry Garelick, parent and advocate for better mathematics programs in U.S. schools. Worked on temporary assignment to a Senator in 2002, providing advice on math education in the U.S. Wrote an article exploring the state of K-12 math education in the US, which appeared in Education Next (Feb 2005). Has written several other articles on math education that have appeared on the web. Provided testimony to the D.C. Public Schools, protesting the adoption of Everyday Mathematics and Connected Math. Provided math tutoring to students in Macfarland Middle School in Washington, DC, and continues to provide math tutoring in his community in McLean, Virginia. He has a degree in mathematics from University of Michigan.

John Hoven, Co-president, Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, Inc. Testified to the National Assessment Governing Board on the draft 2004 Mathematics Framework for NAEP, under sponsorship of The Center for Education Reform (CER) (Washington, DC, Sep 24, 2001). Web page.

David Klein, Department of Mathematics, California State University Northridge. Served on CA mathematics curriculum review panel (1999, 2001); Appointed by the California State Board of Education to review and evaluate professional development proposals for California mathematics teachers (1999); Mathematics content director, Los Angeles County Office of Education (1999 - 2000); Testified to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives, April 4, 2000. Web page.

Richard Innes, Editor, Kentucky Education Reform Update. Mr. Innes has a strong avocation in research on testing including Kentucky's performance based assessments and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). He produces the Kera Newletter and the EdDataFromInnes Web site.

Michael McKeown, Professor, Medical Science, Brown University. Co-founder of Mathematically Correct. Committee author of the California Mathematics Program Advisory; Contributing author of the California Science Standards; Committee author of the San Diego Math Standards, 1998; Collaborating reviewer of second-, fifth-, and seventh-grade, as well as algebra, math texts. Co-author, Chapter 13, What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars (ed. S. Stotsky, Peter Lang Publishers, 2000). Dr. McKeown was called to Washington to discuss math issues with Education Secretary Richard W. Riley and has twice been an invited speaker at the Education Leaders Council annual meeting.

James Milgram, Department of Mathematics, Stanford University. Co-author of the California Mathematics Standards (1997) and Framework (1998); Member, Content Review Panel of Textbooks in Mathematics, for the California Partial Textbook Adoption, 1999; Member, Achieve Commission on the National Eighth Grade Mathematics Examination; Member, Content Review Panel for Mathematics Curricula, for the California Textbook Adoption, 2000; Reviewed State Mathematics Standards for Wisconsin, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Oregon, for Achieve 2000 - 2001; Member, State Mathematics Standards Writing Team, New Mexico, 2001 - 2002; Member, supervisory board (with R. Askey, R. Dixon), for Fordham Foundation, Smith-Richardson Foundation funded study of State Mathematics Assessments by Accountability Works, 2002; Member, Educational Testing Service SAT I Review Panel, 2002; Reviewed Montgomery County, VA, Mathematics Standards for Achieve, 2002; Member, Advisory Board Israel Pilot Singapore Mathematics Program, 2002; Advisor, U.S. Dept. of Education, on Implementation of Math-Science Initiative... [more]

Chris Patterson, former director of education research, Texas Public Policy Foundation. Served on Texas State Board of Education's Standards Setting Panel for State Assessments, 2002; Served on Texas State Board of Education Mathematics Standards-Setting Panel for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), Grades 10 and 11, 2002; Served on the Texas State Board of Education's Mathematics Standards-Setting Panel for Mathematics, grades 3-11, 2002. Web page.

Richard Phelps, Economist (Masters from Indiana and Harvard, Ph.D. from U Penn's Wharton School). Taught secondary school mathematics in Burkina Faso (West Africa); worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the U.S. General Accounting Office, Westat, and Indiana's Education Department; and has published dozens of articles in scholarly journals. Phelps has edited the weekly on-line series, In Defense of Testing, at since the year 2000, is the author of Kill the messenger: The war on standardized testing (Transaction), and the editor of Defending standardized testing (Lawrence Erlbaum). Web page.

Bill Quirk, Mathematician. Provided analyses of the NCTM and NCEE Standards and of the related New York City and New Jersey State standards, and of the TERC curriculum. Web page.

Susan Sarhady, parent and President, Plano Parental Rights Council. Testified before two sub-committees of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce (Feb 2000); co-wrote and submitted citizen's petition to the State Board of Education requesting a rule change that would require parent notification when their child's textbook is non-conforming (March 2000) (Led to State Board of Education resolution that recommends school districts notify each student's parent or guardian of all textbooks selected from the non-conforming list of state-adopted textbooks); participated on the TAKS Mathematics Grades 7-8 Standard Setting Committee (Sep 2002). Web page.

Wilfried Schmid, Department of Mathematics, Harvard University; Helped write the 2000 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Framework; Mathematics Advisor to the Massachusetts Department of Education; Member of the Steering Committee for Mathematics NAEP, 2000-2001; Member of the Program Committee for the International Congress of Mathematics Education 2004. Web page.

Martha Schwartz, University of Southern California. Member or Past Member of the CA Mathematics Framework Committee, the CA Math Instructional Materials Advisory Panel, the CA Science Content Standards drafting team, the CA State Testing and Reporting System performance level panel; and various Los Angeles regional mathematics and science advisory functions.

Barry Simon, Departments of Mathematics and Physics, CalTech. Served on LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Mathematics Curriculum and Textbook Committees (1999 - 2000). Web page.

Mark Steinberger, Deptartment of Mathematics and Statistics, SUNY, Albany. Web page.

Sandra Stotsky is an independent educational consultant and researcher with an interest in teacher education reform, state standards, and high school reform. She directs a one-week summer institute on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, co-sponsored by the Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation and the Center for Civic Education in California. From 1999-2003, she was Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education and directed a complete revision of the state's licensing regulations for teachers, administrators, and teacher training schools, as well as of the state's PreK-12 standards for history and social science, English language arts and reading, mathematics, science and technology/engineering, early childhood (preschool), and instructional technology. She has authored several books and many monographs, research reports, essays, op-eds, and reviews on various curricular areas pre-college and college education.

W. Stephen Wilson, Department of Mathematics, Johns Hopkins University. Testified before the Maryland State Board of Education; Scheduled panelist on mathematics education at the upcoming annual conference for the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) (Oct 21, 2002); Initiated change to quality math program in Friends School of Baltimore; Mathematics consultant to local parent campaign in Montgomery County, MD. Web page.

Ze'ev Wurman, Parent. Co-Founder, HOLD, Palo Alto; member of the CA STAR mathematics content review panel and past member of the CA mathematics framework committee.


Group Photo with Friends

Dinner in Tribeca, August 15, 2002. Identification: Sitting, from left to right: Maryann Stimmer, Henry Katz, Betsy Combier, Chuck Newman, Diane Temkin, Bill Quirk. Standing, from left to right: David Garbasz, Fred Greenleaf, Elizabeth Carson, Sylvain Cappell, Amy Cappell, Edmond David, Bas Braams, Bruce Winokur, Arlene Newman, Rick Schwartz, Norma Levine, Alan Siegel, Martha Schwartz, Marilyn Schorr. Not shown: our photographer, Coralie Quirk. (Here is a smaller version of the photo; 78 KB instead of 1.44 MB.)

(Return to the top of this page, or return to the NYC HOLD main page.)

We thank New York University for hosting these Web pages. The views and opinions expressed in this page and the pages referenced herein are strictly those of the respective page authors. The contents of these pages have not been reviewed or approved by NYU.