In a Chalkbeat New York story about how some schools will be exempt from New York City’s new Algebra 1 curriculum mandate, MƒA President Maria Klawe comments on the math overhaul and curriculum shift. 

“I think very highly of Illustrative Math – it’s a really good curriculum, and so it generally makes a lot of sense for the [Education Department] to standardize,” said Maria Klawe, the president of Math for America, an organization that offers fellowships and growth opportunities to New York City math and science teachers.

“The flip side of what I just said is that if a teacher or a school has made tremendous investment in developing curriculum that for whatever reason works well,” she added, “it makes sense to make exceptions.”

MƒA Master Teachers Bobson Wong and Gary Rubinstein express their frustration with the mandate and their concerns about the wait for more information on what training to expect. 

“If the [Illustrative Math] curriculum is that good, then shouldn’t all schools be required to use it without modification?” said Bobson Wong, a veteran math teacher at Bayside High School.

For his part, Wong said he’s reviewed the Illustrative Math curriculum and believes there’s plenty of useful material in it, and it jibes with his own approach. But he worries the new mandates could be too rigid, forcing him to discard lessons he’s honed over the years.

He also hasn’t heard much about the city’s plans to get teachers up to speed.

“I don’t expect anything to happen until two days before classes start, which is of course not enough time to learn how to use a new curriculum,” he said.


Gary Rubinstein, a math teacher at Stuyvesant High School, said his school’s exemption had little practical impact because virtually every incoming student has already passed Algebra 1. But he said he would be wary of efforts to require him to use a mandated curriculum in other subjects, a move city officials are considering.

“I would never use a canned curriculum with a pacing calendar” that dictates how long to spend on each unit, he said, noting that such a directive could make it difficult to cover certain topics effectively.