[ProgressiveEd] Manhattan WestSide Legislators' March 28 Letter to Chancellor Klein

[email protected] [email protected]
Mon, 07 Apr 2003 13:41:40 +0000

I am pleased to forward to you a copy of the letter sent to Chancellor Klein 
recently by 9 members of the US Congress, NYS Legislature, and NYC Council 
representing the West Side of Manhattan.  Please note the support expressed for:
      1.  retention of Middle School Choice and other innovative successful 
programs and
      2.  community school governance structures that allow for "true community 
Carolyn Prager
Advocates for Public
Representation in Public Education
March 28, 2003
Mr. Joel Klein
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Chancellor Klein:
On January 23, 2003 we had the opportunity to meet with parents, board members, 
and staff of Community School District 3.  As the Department of Education has 
begun to restructure and overhaul the educational system in order to improve 
student academic performance, we have serious concerns about a �one size fits 
all� approach to our children�s education.  We are urging you to be cautious 
and not jeopardize some of our most successful programs.
Many successful educational innovations have been developed in recent years, 
especially pre-kindergarten, dual language, and gifted and talented enrichment 
programs.  An outstanding example is District 3�s Delta program for gifted and 
talented middle school students.  Using these programs as models and 
replicating them throughout the City would improve our children�s academic 
We urge you to continue to dismantle larger schools into smaller, more 
manageable ones as needed.  Excellent examples of such �schools within schools� 
are our successful Special Music School of America, Frederick Douglas II, Mott 
Hall II, and Future Leaders Institute.  Small schools allow students who are 
struggling, those who need special attention, and those who need individual 
programs the opportunity to get the attention and the services they require to 
Middle School Choice must be maintained.  It is widely believed that getting 
middle schools to work is critical to improving the overall success of our 
educational system.  Middle School Choice enables families to select schools 
from the entire district in which they reside, rather than having to attend 
those for which they are zoned.  This program truly enhances student prospects 
for academic improvement and social growth.  Parents and students are empowered 
to choose programs and schools that best address their needs, that reflect a 
desired teaching-learning philosophy, that have a special academic focus and/or 
that have a good performance rating.
As you know, academic performance is not only about reading, writing, and 
arithmetic.  Individuals learn in different ways and providing students with an 
integrated curriculum, as many suburban districts currently do, improves 
academic achievement, and fosters the development of more well-rounded and 
informed citizens.  It seems that every time a cut needs to be made to our 
public schools, our science, art, and music programs are the first to go.  This 
assault on children�s educational opportunities within our schools must come to 
an end.  We ask that you not only maintain these programs but also expand them 
where possible and include dedicated rooms for them in any new school 
Finally, and most importantly, the newly proposed school governance structure 
does not provide a vehicle for full community participation.  While one may 
find fault with the community school board structure as it exists, there can be 
no doubt that these boards provided an opportunity for parents and other 
community members to participate in matters of local and citywide educational 
policy.  Removing this structure without replacing it with a new system of true 
community involvement could make our communities even more distant and isolated 
from our schools.
We thank you for taking our thoughts and concerns into consideration and look 
forward to hearing from you soon.  Should you have any questions or require 
additional information, please feel free to contact any of us.
Gale A. BrewerCouncil MemberDistrict 6	
Jerrold Nadler, US RepresentativeDistrict 8	
David Paterson, State SenatorDistrict 30
Eric Schneiderman, State SenatorDistrict 31	
Thomas Duane, State SenatorDistrict 29	
Richard Gottfried, Assembly MemberDistrict 75
Scott Stringer,Assembly MemberDistrict 67	
Daniel O�Donnell, Assembly MemberDistrict 69	
Philip Reed,Council MemberDistrict 8
cc:		Hon. Steve Sanders
		Patricia Romandetto
		Roni Wattman
		Members of Community School Board 3
		PTA Presidents