Dear Ms. Goodman,
I am dismayed and surprised by your 13 January 2009 post on the Ridgewood Blog in which you accused a parent of ‘undermining the administration’ by offering Sandra Stotsky, a distinguished math standards expert, to consult with RPS’ Math Planning Team (MPT). You couldn’t have chosen a more negative characterization of the parent’s actions. Instead this parent should be complimented for attempting to provide balance to the MPT, whose external advisors are far to one side of the ideological divide.
The external advisors Daro, Rosenstein, and Schultz represent a point of view shared by far fewer than 1% of mathematicians. They are the ‘understanding first’ and ‘multiple solutions’ crowd that leave little time for our children to become fluent in standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These algorithms are efficient and they provide the foundations of algebra.
The only advisor with a point of view respected by mathematicians is Posamentier, but his chances of providing balance are slim. He has only 30 minutes with the MPT, while Daro was given an entire day, and Schultz is both a member of the team and an external advisor. If the external advisors represented both sides of the ideological divide, and all were given equal time, then I would agree that we don’t need Stotsky.
Most outrageous is your characterization of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) as ‘political,’ and your insinuation that it’s being treated as dogmatic religious text. In my view the NMAP report is far more balanced than the MPT: It acknowledges the importance of reform math, but cautions that traditional mathematical rigor should not be compromised. But the education establishment you have chosen to defend is deeply threatened by the NMAP report. It’s a simplistic cheap shot to dismiss it as political.
I hoped when you were elected that you would be a voice for concerned parents. Instead it seems that you’ve become that administration’s biggest cheer leader.
John G. Sheehan, Ph.D.