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Schools Chancellor Klein’s news for schoolkids’ parents

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It is hard to believe that four months have passed since we welcomed students back in September. It’s been an exciting time, and I hope you agree that our Children First reform agenda is taking root and making positive change in our schools. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.

First, I want to address an issue that has received a great deal of attention in the media of late, and that’s violence in some of our schools. I believe, and Mayor Bloomberg believes, that there is no greater priority for the Department of Education. The safety and security of our students in school is essential. We owe this to our kids — who are in school to learn — and we owe it to our teachers and other school staff who have the right to expect a secure workplace. We are in the process of implementing new programs and procedures that should help us toward this goal. Most of the kids in our schools are great kids, there to learn. We can’t and we won’t let a small percentage of students, who are disruptive and violent, threaten the entire teaching and learning process. We will accept nothing less than secure and orderly schools.

As you are aware, we made significant changes to the core curriculum in September, and we added new books and materials to school libraries to help our students learn. We also spent a great deal of time on teacher development to better prepare teachers to use the new curriculum. I believe that we are well on our way toward improving the level of instruction in the classrooms. It is not yet time to issue a final assessment of these reforms, but I’m very grateful for the hard work that has been done thus far by our principals, teachers, staff, students and parents.

We are hearing great things about our Parent Coordinators and hope that you are finding this additional person on the school staff welcoming and helpful. This is an important initiative for us as we continue to believe that active parent involvement is a critical component in improving student achievement. That’s a goal I think we all share.

There is a huge role for parents in influencing teaching and learning in our schools. Students come to school from families and communities. Parents must establish expectations for the children when it comes to their behavior and academic achievement in and out of school. Students should be able to expect that their parents will support them in school in every way possible. Communities must send a clear, consistent message to young people that education is the key to their future.

Many of you have contacted me to voice concerns or offer suggestions. I welcome this communication and hope you will continue to keep me informed. I personally look forward to continuing to work with you to make this school year a great one for your kids.

Sincerely,

Joel I. Klein

Chancellor

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