[ProgressiveEd] NYT article of 3-8-03

Jane Bedell [email protected]
Mon, 10 Mar 2003 17:18:23 -0500

Hello all-
I thought they NYT article of 3-8 (Saturday) was pretty good, and at least 
had more of a focus on small schools than previous articles have had.  How 
did that article come to be?  Anyhow, Sarah and I sent this letter off to 
the NYT;  we'll see if it gets published (it's way too long, they want 
letters to be 150 words and I am just too wordy for that!).  Anyway, FYI.
I have also begun to ask parents of children who have graduated from PENNY 
schools to write to Joel Klein, Diana Lam and the gang at NYC DOE attesting 
to the value of the education their children received.  I have no idea if 
this would make a difference, but it couldn't hurt.......
March 10, 2003
To The Editor:
As parents of a first grader at a small, alternative public school (Central 
Park East-2), we were glad to see a story that focused on the difficulties 
that small schools are having as the Department of Education begins 
implementing the sweeping changes proposed by Joel Klein ("Many Schools 
Fight to Avoid New Standard In Curriculum," NYT 3/8/03)
We have three major concerns about these changes. We are concerned that a 
uniform curriculum will limit the ability of CPE-2 and other small, 
innovative schools to continue their student-centered focus; we are worried 
that these changes may limit parents' choice in selecting a public school 
that is a good fit for their child; and finally we are troubled by an 
emphasis on a single assessment tool - test scores - as the measure of 
The Central Park East schools, and the over 100 schools based on similar 
educational approaches, offer parents and families much needed options 
within the existing public school system. In fact, at nearly all of these 
schools there are far more families wanting to place their child in the 
schools than there are spots available. These small schools all share 
several similar characteristics: small school size allowing for a real 
sense of community for the teachers and the students, meaningful staff 
development which promotes true support and collaboration between teachers, 
and utilization of a range of assessment techniques which reflect the 
complexity of our children as learners (including student projects, teacher 
observation, portfolios, test scores, attendance, parental involvement, low 
number of suspensions, and the degree to which parents continue their 
children in these schools despite the family's change of residence).
We hope that as Joel Klein and others at the Department of Education review 
the waiver applications of CPE-2 and other similar schools that they 
continue to learn about the unique features of these small schools and 
programs. While we agree that schools should be evaluated and held to high 
standards, we encourage Joel Klein to measure our schools with 
appropriately sophisticated tools.  We believe that CPE-2 and similar 
schools are leaders in educational innovation and have a proven track 
record of success for our children.
Jane Bedell, MD
Sarah Garrison, MD