Chancellor Joel Klein Pans District 2 Math Programs

Letter to the Editor, New York Daily News
By Bas Braams
December 17, 2002
(not published)


Dear Editor:

Joe Williams (Klein Pans Math Programs, NY Daily News, Dec 17, 2002) quotes "sources" as saying that Chancellor Klein's team is taking a close look at dumping a controversial "constructivist" math curriculum used in Manhattan's District 2 that encourages students to learn math through non-traditional techniques such as group projects.

That might refer to the TERC: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space program mandated in K-5; or to the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP) mandated in middle school; or to the Mathematics: Modelling Our World program by COMAP that is mandated in high school in that District. All three programs implement in a rather extreme way the tenets of the 1989 Standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which disparage teaching of skills in favor of student "explorations" and discovery learning.

It is interesting that your article, which elsewhere quotes Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam with regard to mathematics instruction, relies on unnamed sources in contact with the Chancellor's team for the damnation of the District 2 curriculum, but perhaps Chancellor Klein and his deputy Ms. Lam are not on the same wavelength in this matter.

Ms. Diana Lam came to New York from Providence, RI, where she brought in her own choice of mathematics curriculum in grade school and middle school. According to a statement from the Providence School Department (quoted in [1]), the Providence School District under Diana Lam introduced TERC Investigations into grade school and Connected Mathematics (CMP) into middle school in the 2001-2002 school year.

Mr. Klein may well have come to regret the unfortunate appointment of Ms. Lam as his deputy for teaching and learning, which he made within ten days of starting his position as Chancellor and fresh from a career that was far removed from the world of education.

Bas Braams

[1] www.ri.net/PEF/performance.htm


Addendum. Some related links.

Links, Articles, Essays, and Opinions on K-12 Education
New York City Hold
Chancellor Joel Klein's "Children First" Blueprint
Predictions for Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First Initiative
Shelley Harwayne and Mathematics
Reviews of TERC Investigations
Reviews of Connected Mathematics Project (CMP)
Reviews of Mathematics Modeling Our World
Reviews of the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

Author's Web home: www.math.nyu.edu/mfdd/braams/

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