Mayor's WINS Address
Hear the Mayor's Message
In last week's State of the City Address, I announced that I am asking Chancellor Rudy Crew and the Board of Education to implement what I believe will be a very exciting and important initiative: a parental school choice program in one of New York City's community school districts.
Over the last three years, Chancellor Crew and his team have done a tremendous job in turning our public schools around. They are increasing accountability, raising standards, and improving the quality of instruction. That's why citywide math scores have now risen for six straight years and citywide reading scores increased by 5.9 percentage points in 1997 and 1998 - a rate unmatched in 17 years.
Now, Chancellor Crew is moving forward to continue the transformation. He is expanding pre-kindergarten programs… adding summer instruction… working with us to reform special education, end social promotion, and reform bilingual education… involving parents in more of their children's educational decisions… and doing much more. He plans to open charter schools throughout the City - including dedicating one school district as a charter district. The goal is to bring more and more good ideas into our school system - which, with over 1 million students, is the largest in the country - so that we can reach as many children as possible. The parental choice program I proposed would build on these accomplishments by taking one of the City's 32 community school districts - a district with a record of poor academic performance - and allowing schoolchildren in that district to attend the school of their families' choice, whether it's public, private, or parochial. Our program will be modeled after a very exciting program in Milwaukee called the Parental Choice program - which is currently enabling more than 6,200 economically disadvantaged families to explore educational alternatives that might better meet the needs of their children.
A school is worthy of its students when it earns their loyalty… when children and their parents willingly choose to attend it… when more students want to attend it, in fact, than there are slots available. The parental choice program will be an intriguing and meaningful experiment because it will begin to built a system of schools that students and parents select, rather than ones that they settle for and accept by default.
I look forward to moving ahead with this plan. Let's implement it and honestly assess the results of giving economically disadvantaged children and families the same educational alternatives that rich families have. If it doesn't work, it will collapse of its own weight. But if it succeeds, it can make a major difference in the lives of thousands of children. We shouldn't be afraid of new ideas - not when they have the potential to invigorate, enrich, and educate our children. From City Hall, this is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.