2009-10-01 / From The Mayor...


NYC Public Schools Offer More Choices; More Paths To Success

In recent years, New York City public school students have achieved enormous gains in the classroom. The past school year brought record-high results in both the statewide math and reading examinations. And our graduation rates, which had been stagnant for more than a decade, are now more than 20 percent higher than they were just four years ago. The result is that thousands more students are doing well in school, graduating on time, and heading off to college or the working world armed with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

We’ve achieved this success by rejecting “politics as usual” and putting Children First. We cut the bureaucracy by $350 million and moved that money to where it belongs: the classroom! We’ve raised standards, opened hundreds of new schools, put parent coordinators in every school, cut school violence by 32 percent — and held everyone accountable for results. We’ve also taken new approaches that give parents more choices and give students more paths to success.

For example, last September, we began testing a three-year pilot program in reading instruction called the Core Knowledge Early Literacy Program. We introduced the program to kindergartners in 10 schools. The early results are extremely encouraging: After one year, the progress of students in the ten participating schools was more than five times greater than the performance of students at similar schools. And the gains were reflected among students at all levels of literacy.

Another place where new approaches are meeting with success is in our public charter schools. These schools are hubs of innovation and fresh ideas — and their methods are working. A recent Stanford University study showed that students in Harlem who gained spots in our charter schools through admission lotteries are now significantly outperforming students who applied, but did not get selected in those lotteries. We’ve long believed in the power of public charter schools, and we’re doing everything we can to create more of them. In 2005, we pledged to double the number of public charter schools in our city, and I’m pleased to say we met that goal this month.

Our objective is to give all students as many opportunities to succeed as we possibly can — and that includes students who may have fallen behind academically. In 2005, we launched a program called “Learning to Work” that allows students who have dropped out or fallen behind to earn high school diplomas while receiving in-depth job readiness training, including paid internships. Over the past yearsmore that 10,000 students have graduated from “Learning to Work” schools and programs — and more than 10,000 futures are now brighter as a result.

We also continue to test new approaches in Career and Technical Education. This month we launched four “demonstration site” schools that will model innovative practices and teach technical competency in emerging industries, like green technology. This is all part of a plan we announced last year to transform Career and Technical Education so that it provides students with diverse options and ensures that they leave our schools prepared for their futures in college, or in the workforce.

There are many different roads to success, but they all run through the classroom. That’s why we’ll continue to test new approaches to learning and create more choices in our schools, so that our children can find their own paths to achievement.

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