Contributions to the Children First Initiative and
New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools

By Bas Braams. Nov 2002 and ongoing


The "Children First" initiative of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Diana Lam was started in October, 2002, and concluded its Phase 1 in January, 2003, with the announcement of a major reorganization of the NYC schools system governance and of a new broadly mandated standard curriculum for reading and mathematics.

The initiative was of much interest to the New York City HOLD group, and the group made many efforts to influence the process towards a choice for high quality curricula and serious education in the New York City public schools. Unfortunately, Chancellor Klein and Deputy Chancellor Lam selected a different path.

This Web page collects, for the record, links to my own contributions to the Children First process. These contributions were in all cases influenced by New York City HOLD and in many cases done in association with NYC HOLD. I am pleased to note especially the contributions of Elizabeth Carson and of the NYC HOLD Steering Committee generally.

For more information on Children First and on the efforts of New York City Hold to influence the initiative please see also Chancellor Joel Klein's "Children First" New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools.

Essays and Letters on Children First

Reviews of UCSMP Everyday Mathematics, by BJB with Elizabeth Carson and NYC HOLD (Ongoing). A collection of links with annotation... [more]

Spiraling through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (March 2003). The spiral nature and the concept of distributed practice illustrated by the fourth grade coverage of whole number multiplication and division... [more]

Some questions about the Children First process and outcome (March 2, 2003). An email to Ms. Eva Moskowitz, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, with suggestions for questions to ask of Chancellor Klein at an upcoming hearing... [more]

Joel Klein's Math Problems, (op-ed, the New York Sun, Feb 6, 2003). About the choice of Everyday Mathematics as the standard curriculum for NYC elementary schools. "Mr. Klein would do well to reverse himself and listen to the advice about successful curricula that mathematicians and others have provided to him and his staff"... [more]

The Many Ways of Arithmetic in UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (Feb 2003). An overview of the program's multiple algorithms for paper and pencil whole number arithmetic... [more]

Chancellor Joel I. Klein's "Children First" New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools (Dec, 2002, and Ongoing). News and commentary on the Children First "New Agenda" and its Blueprint for Reform, with a focus on mathematics instruction. Includes documentation of the efforts of New York City HOLD to influence Children First for the better... [more]

The NYC DOE "Children First" Working Groups (Dec 2002 and ongoing). A sequence of requests under the Freedom of Information Law with the aim to discover the charge to and reports of the major Children First working groups. It has become apparent that these groups operated without formal charge and did not produce a formal report... [more]

Two Letters to NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein (Dec 17 and 18, 2002). The first letter recalls my predictions about the Children First initiative and expresses interest in a conversation about mathematics education. The second letter emphasizes the contributions that subject matter experts can make to Children First... [more]

Two Letters to Mr. Evan Rudall, Chair of Children First Numeracy Working Group, Dec 11 and 12, 2002. I discuss some specific curricula on the assumption that they may be of interest to the working group. I also emphasize that (contrary to the Children First process) the curricular decisions for New York City should be made in close cooperation with subject matter experts... [more]

Letter to NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Nov 26, 2002. Some dire predictions for the outcome of Phase 1 of the Children First initiative, followed by constructive suggestions and reading advice... [more]

Predictions for Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First Initiative (Nov 26, 2002). My main prediction is that in January, 2003, as he announces the results of the first phase of Children First, Chancellor Klein will lock himself into a curriculum reform driven by the ideologies of balanced whole language instruction, NCTM-style constructivist mathematics, and continued bilingual education for English language learners. The lock will last for the remainder of his tenure... [more]

Survey response for Children First Numeracy Working Group (Nov 10, 2002). My responses to a survey developed and distributed by the Children First Numeracy Working Group of the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE)... [more]

Some Related Writings

Math Problems ("A Mom Becomes a Math Maverick"). Letters, Our Town, Nov 28, 2002. About curricular mandates in NYC's District 2... [more]

About Diana Lam, NYC Deputy Chancellor (Oct 2002). This was meant as a start to a more comprehensive description of Ms. Lam's efforts in education reform, but has so far remained at the level of just a few links and snippets... [more]

[2002/07b] Shelley Harwayne and mathematics. Shelley Harwayne is Superintendent of New York City Community School District 2. Earlier she was the founding principal of the Manhattan New School. Ms. Harwayne is a nationally recognized personality in the area of language and literacy teaching, and also wrote some words about mathematics education.

[2001/12b] A Letter to Mr. Dennis Walcott, NYC Deputy Mayor for Policy (Designate). With the new Bloomberg administration coming in on January 1, 2002, I thought it would be useful to offer the incoming Deputy Mayor for Policy, whose responsibilities include Education, some quiet advice.

(Return to Links, Articles, Essays, and Opinions on K-12 Education or to the New York City HOLD Web site or to BJB Essays and Opinions.)

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by New York University.