January 12, 2004

Hillary Rodham Clinton's battles for education

New York's senator Hillary Rodham Clinton sent a letter to her constituents reviewing the challenges and opportunities of the past year. Among her concerns is, naturally, education. See what she has had to offer, and please be advised that this all that she had to say about education.

January 9, 2004

Dear ...:

The 108th Congress has adjourned for the year, and I thought it was a good time to update you on the past twelve months. It has been an active session full of challenges and opportunities.

Like many of you, my top concerns this past year were economic security, homeland security, and national security. At the same time, I have continued to fight on other vital fronts, concentrating on efforts to improve health care, promote education, and protect the environment. It has been a tough battle. But I have been working hard to represent the state of New York and fight for the interests of New Yorkers.


I would like to conclude this update by telling you about an innovative, yet simple program that helps both New York students and apple farmers. Teaming with General Mills this summer, we launched the "Apples for Education Program." Students across New York State can "harvest" stickers from New York State apples and place them on posters in their school cafeterias. Schools redeem the posters for cash through General Mills' "Box Tops for Education Initiative." This program exemplifies what we can do when we work together: industry and education, business and government, students and farmers. It shows us that together, we can all prosper.

The past year was filled with challenges and opportunities. I am certain that 2004 will be as well. There is much to do for New York State and for New York families. I hope you will join me in making our New York community the best it can be.

Sincerely yours,
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Thanks to Elizabeth Carson of New York City HOLD for forwarding this.

Posted by Bas Braams at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 26, 2003

Shelley Harwayne retires

The New York Times and other NYC newspapers report the retirement of Shelley Harwayne. As superintendent of New York City's community school district 2 Shelley Harwayne was among the most visible proponents nationwide of the educational reform movement associated with whole language reading instruction and constructivist mathematics teaching. In the new governance structure that took effect just the start of this month Shelley Harwayne held the position of superintendent for Region 9: the largest region by number of schools in the system and encompassing most of Manhattan including the old CSD2. Ms. Harwayne is retiring to deal with health and family issues.

Shelley Harwayne has written at least 6 books and is a frequent speaker at national events; for example, keynote speaker at the NCTE Whole Language Umbrella Conference in Nashville (2000) and at the National Conference of the Reading Recovery Council of North America (2002), and giving the opening talk at the NCTE Whole Language Umbrella Conference in Bethesda (2002). Before becoming superintendent of community school district 2 Ms. Harwayne was the founding principal of the Manhattan New School. One of her books, Going Public: Priorities and Practice at the Manhattan New School (Heinemann, 1999) is based on that experience, and offers insight into the educational philosophy that guided District 2 and that has been influential throughout the NYC school system.

My own interest is mathematics and science education. Last year I read Going Public with that perspective and used it for a Web article, Shelley Harwayne and Mathematics. The present contribution is based on that longer article.

Ms. Harwayne's book has one chapter where one may look for academic ambitions of the school: Chapter 6, Talking Curriculum and Assessment. The issue of mathematics education covers about half a page in that chapter, and there is nothing at all about science education. In the half page about mathematics Shelley Harwayne describes how she marvels at what her children are able to do, such as renaming numbers, seeing patterns in hundreds charts, and performing great amounts of mental math. With little attention to algorithms her students understand how knowing that 6 x 7 = 42 helps you to know what 60 x 70 is, what 12 x 7 is, what 3 x 7 is, and so on. Observing the teaching of mathematics she realizes how little she knows and how much there is to learn.

Ms. Harwayne's limitations in mathematics did not prevent the CSD2 superintendency from taking a very active and damaging interest in mathematics instruction, removing curricular choices from the schools and teachers and imposing a sequence of reform mathematics curricula throughout the District that are roundly rejected by mathematics professionals. These curricula include TERC: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in grade school, Connected Mathematics Program (CMP) in middle school, and Mathematics: Modelling Our World (COMAP) in high school.

The educational reform in district 2 gave rise to an opposition, and especially to New York City HOLD: an advocacy organization for parents, educators, mathematicians and others focussed on improving the quality of mathematics education in New York City schools. In spite of the efforts of NYC HOLD and others, at present the District 2 philosophy holds sway throughout the New York City school system.

Posted by Bas Braams at 12:07 PM | Comments (1)