Parents rage as top NYC school plans to end advanced math program
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A top Manhattan middle school sent parents into a rage when it announced that it was junking accelerated math classes — and agreed to hold meetings first amid the backlash.
In what some families ripped as the Department of Education’s latest smothering of advanced academics, Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies principal Megan Adams emailed parents that “we will no longer have leveled math courses at Lab Middle School.”
“I know this is a change,” she wrote, without offering any rationale for the move. “I assure you that this decision was not made lightly.”
Former Lab teacher Maggie Feurtado, who founded the program roughly a decade ago before retiring this year, said she was “simply appalled” by the weekend announcement.
“This is all in the name of equity,” she told The Post. “And it’s likely coming from above. But it’s misguided. Having everyone in the same class hurts everybody.”
With parental fury erupting on social media, Adams sent out another email Tuesday afternoon saying the announcement was “premature.”
“We will be holding community meetings where parents and educators can hear from one another, and school leadership can collect feedback,” she wrote.
The plan to cancel separate accelerated math classes would be put on “pause,” Adams said.
Feurtado, who grew up on the Lower East Side and attended city public schools, said the uniform instructional approach fails to address the needs of both advanced and struggling students.
“It’s like not allowing any kids in a daycare to walk until all of them learn to walk,” she said. “It doesn’t work. Advanced kids don’t want to belabor the same material. And the kids who need the extra attention won’t get what they need.”
Feurtado’s imperiled model offered advanced math classes at Lab — a feeder school to the city’s ultra-competitive specialized high schools — for kids in the 7th and 8th grades based on a diagnostic test.
She said that exam — which she authored — assessed not only knowledge but critical thinking as well.
Parents said Lab’s announcement further cemented a notion that DOE schools are stanching academic opportunities for advanced city children.
“My child had a wonderful experience in one of these classes,” said the parent of an outgoing 8th grader. “I feel sorry for future students.”
Another mom said parental disillusionment was spiking to new levels.
“Children have different interests and abilities and we should foster their individuality,” she said. “We need to push them. The one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for middle schoolers and math in particular if we want to train the next generation of scientists.”
She added that affluent parents will simply find new ways to provide for more demanding coursework for their kids — or just decamp to private schools.
“Those who can’t afford that will be stuck,” she said.
Feurtado, who taught math for 17 years in the city, argued that the DOE should reorient in a new direction.
“We need to teach kids to get hungry,” she said, stressing that many of her top performers over the years were low-income minority immigrants. “They need to understand that this is how they can get ahead, through education and hard work. This is how they can go places. Priorities have to change.”
A DOE spokesman said the community meetings will begin this week.
“Lab Middle School prides itself on offering rigorous courses that best prepare our young people for bright futures, and no advanced math programs have been cut,” said Nathaniel Styer. “Principal Adams will be hosting a series of community engagement beginning this Thursday to discuss course programming.”
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