Open Letter to Friends of New York
City Public Schools
What an exciting time to be part of New York City public education,
a time where everything and anything is possible. Our slogan-Children
First-is also our mission and vision. The restructuring of
New York City public education has focused on creating environments
that are student-centered and academically stimulating. Our
system is now focused on providing challenging and differentiated
professional development, with an infrastructure dedicated
to improving student achievement.
As I speak to different audiences throughout this city I have
used the four E's as my vision-setting agenda. The four E's relate
to all our varied constituencies: parents, educators, community
members, and most of all, our students.
Equity: As a student who entered a New York City elementary
school not speaking a word of English, I fully expect our students
and parents to see our schools as the perfect vehicle to experience
the American dream. For parents, this means the best schools
and the best teachers regardless of neighborhood. For business
and community leaders, it means that all our students will
graduate with a meaningful high school diploma, enabling them
to continue their education or become productive members of
the work force. This diploma will carry equal prestige regardless
of which high school granted it.
Excellence: We have implemented a citywide curriculum
that requires much more than rote memorization. Our approach
to balanced literacy and mathematics encourages critical thinking,
applied learning, problem solving and active student engagement.
This ensures that all students are expected to have skills
for success in the 21st century as well mastery of rigorous
state standards. A stimulating academic environment implies
that students are engaged rather than disruptive, makers rather
than dependent followers, and self-directed active citizens
rather than disenfranchised observers.
Energy: A good school "hums." This
hum is created by a chorus of people from within and without
this school community, based on strong partnerships and collaborations
to ensure that learning goes beyond academics. This energy
is most clearly felt when all constituents have a role to play
and participate productively in a learning, caring community.
A clear sign of positive energy is seeing school lights lit
way beyond 3:00 p.m.
Entourage: Working with others. Cultural institutions,
business partners, local merchants, and after school organizations
all offer valuable services and bring the real world experiences
into our schools. The bonds formed by an entourage of dedicated
individuals sharing a common vision enable the possibilities
we want for all our children to become reality. The most important
entourage is between parents and educators. Our parent coordinators
have been a major contribution to strengthening this link.
I have played almost every role in the field-student, teacher,
parent, principal, community activist, superintendent and now
leader of Teaching and Learning. In each role, the four E's have
focused and sustained my optimism that, together, we can and
will do right by every one of our students.
The beauty of our profession is that every September we have
a golden opportunity to start anew and rededicate our efforts.
It is easy to be a faultfinder...much harder to be a problem-solver
and builder. Join me in making this school year the best ever.
I am confident that together, in
whatever role we play, we can create one community and use
the power of our combined voices to move toward the goal
of providing every student in New York City with high quality
education. This is a golden moment in reforming public schools,
and as the song says, "If
you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!" We can
Carmen Fariña is the deputy
chancellor of NYC public schools. She welcomes suggestions
and feedback via email at email@example.com.