SchoolsReach Toward Excellence
Sixth Annual Award Program of the Reading and Mathematics Institute,
entitled “Commitment to Excellence for All Students”, was indeed
an excellent occasion.
Highlighted by the keynote remarks of New York Board of Education
Chancellor Harold O. Levy and the Commissioner of the New York
State Education Department, Dr. Richard P. Mills, the event at
Brooklyn’s New York Marriott Hotel recognized those New York City
public schools which at one time were identified as Schools Under
Registration Review (SURR), not meeting state standards, but have
since managed to more than pass the grade.
or three years ago, these schools were considered the furthest
away from state standards,” said James Gaughan, coordinator of
New York City School and Community Services. “But now they have
achieved their targets.”
In his address, Chancellor Levy acknowledged the improvement but
at the same time, recognized that public education still has a
long way to go. “It’s the number-one issue of the day,” he said.
“It’s a matter of a great national debate. We are going to change
ourselves. We are going the raise the standards in our urban centers
and in our toughest schools.”
And why not? With 40 percent of New York State’s fourth graders
reading below grade level, and 54 percent in New York City, major
changes are necessary. Statewide, 70 percent of fourth grade students
in schools met ELA standards, but in New York City it was only
Typically, schools failing to reach standards have faced a wide
variety of obstacles: meeting standardized reading and math scores,
uncertified teachers, poor leadership, lack of consistency in
the curriculum, among others. “It’s easy to get on the list but
it’s hard to get off,” said Dr. Angelo Gimondo, Community Superintendent
of District 30. “It takes serious resources to get to that point.”
Gimondo, who had one school, PS 111, on the SURR list, was visibly
relieved to have his school removed from it. In celebration of
that achievement, fourth grader Ismael Dabo read two poems to
the crowd of cheering listeners at the ceremony.
no better way of improving standards than giving tribute to those
who did it,” Commissioner Mills said. “And you did it. We have
to mobilize all the resources we have available with sheer effort.
Leveling the playing field means stacking the deck in favor of
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