[ProgressiveEd] Revised Cover Letter About Waivers

[email protected] [email protected]
Sat, 1 Mar 2003 14:20:08 EST

This is a reworked version of the cover letter.  Please make any suggestions 
right away.  The letter will be finalized and sent out Monday morning before 
12 noon.  Thanks.  Bruce Kanze
Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, Diana Lam, and Regional Superintendents:
We applaud you for taking decisive steps to turn around education in New York 
City.  We agree that change is necessary and that accountability is a major 
part of making our schools successful.  We agree with Chancellor Klein’s 
efforts to create smaller school communities and support his commitment to 
autonomy for schools that can demonstrate that they’re successful.
Over thirty years ago, the cutting edge of public school reform arose in New 
York City.  At that time, a pair of provocative ideas – small schools and 
school choice – generated wide ranging discussions that soon became part of 
the national lexicon surrounding effective public schooling.  These ideas 
have achieved prominence, gaining even more adherents than the charter or 
voucher movements.
These small schools exist only because parents choose them.  Every year, 
parents seek to enroll their youngsters in these “alternative” schools in 
numbers that far outstrip the current capacity of these schools.
What distinguishes these small schools?
• A degree of autonomy in terms of staffing, curriculum, school structure, 
and program,
• Support for parental, student, and staff choice,
• Small size, so that students, parents, and staff can be known by one 
• Cohesive vision,
• A wide range of learners, including recently arrived immigrant students and 
children with special needs (a non-exclusive admissions policy),
• Students who are critical thinkers and activist citizens in a democracy,
• Extensive parent involvement and collaborative relationships,
• Shared leadership among staff and parents,
• Peer staff development,
• Authentic methods of assessment.
Our schools are very successful when measured by:
• the achievements of our graduates,
• the level of parent participation,
• the diversity of the student body,
• the level of staff development and commitment,
• the creative and engaging curricula,
• the relationship of trust between teachers and students.
We feel strongly that using results from standardized tests to measure a 
school’s success is limited, at best.  We envision for our school system an 
educational experience where children are treated with respect and dignity, 
where they develop minds open to exploration and inquiry, where teachers are 
dedicated and fulfilled, where all children are engaged and challenged, and 
where children who have historically been excluded from opportunity are 
deliberately included.  We hope you share our vision and that you will do all 
in your power to enable us to continue to do this extraordinary work and to 
create more schools like ours.  The first step is to grant our waiver 
Bruce Kanze
For the Progressive Education Network of New York