“Let’s be thoughtful about our approach so that one day we can say this was the moment we joined together to drive the long-term improvement our schools need.” – Bill Gates
Dear Mr. Gates
My name is Mary Conway-Spiegel, founder of the New York City-based Partnership For Student Advocacy. PFSA (pfsany.org) is a non-profit organization advocating for students at “failing” schools in New York City. Recently, we added a charitable arm whose sole purpose is to fund programming for students in schools that are in the process of closing.
On Monday I called your offices in Washington because the “one day” you mentioned in your April 3 Washington Post Op Ed is today for the students of Christopher Columbus High School (CCHS) in the Bronx and a growing number of city schools.
A school that is phasing out loses basic programming critical not only for graduation but for robust, holistic human growth and development (e.g., art, foreign language, AP courses, test prep, music, sports). Students at Christopher Columbus receive trace amounts of these offerings. These students represent a microcosm of an unacceptable, piecemeal high-school experience. Students who remain in phasing-out NYC schools such as Columbus have become collateral damage of the national education system.
PFSA’s first initiative has been the creation of the Christopher Columbus fund. Columbus is our test school and we are seeking to raise $602,875.00 to fund programs for the students graduating in June 2014, at which time the school’s doors will close forever after 75 years (as featured on PBS’s MetroFocus). Our goal is to create an endowment to replace the programs no longer available to students at schools that are phasing-out. This fund will work because the courses and specialists we’re seeking to finance for these students have been proven for decades to produce positive outcomes.
The reform policies of the last decade have brought amazing gifts to the children of our schools nationwide, but — like all revolutions — there is serious fallout, especially in underserved urban areas. Partnership For Student Advocacy wishes to reverse the disenfranchisement trend.
Time is running out. As the 2013-14 school budget deadline draws near, I would like to schedule a meeting with you or a decision-maker in your organization to discuss the education that youth still enrolled in phasing-out schools are receiving.
I deeply appreciate your attention to this growing crisis and to PFSA’s efforts to address the education of our future generation before the country “fails” an entire demographic of promising youth.
Yours In Common Cause
Founder, Partnership For Student Advocacy
Here’s My Letter http://www.pfsany.org/dear-mr-gates/