Press Releases

Klein Announces Children First: A New Agenda For Public Education in New York
Oct. 3, 2002

    New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the launch of Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education in New York City. Children First is a multi-year effort at significantly improving New York City's public schools. The first phase of Children First will produce the blueprint of reforms against which the Department will execute in the coming months and years. Klein announced that the Broad Foundation and Robertson Foundation committed to fund Children First's initial phase, expected to cost $3.75 million.

    "With mayoral control of the public schools, this is a unique moment in the City's history. We have been given a mandate for change in New York's public schools. Children First will provide us with the roadmap for that change," Klein said.

    Children First will include a far-reaching community engagement component to ensure that all New Yorkers are active participants in the reinvention of the school system. Children First will reach out to parents, community-based organizations, corporations, foundations, think tanks, institutions of higher education, religious organizations, and public officials.

    "This is going to be an open and inclusive process. Input from the community is absolutely critical. We look forward to speaking with parents and community members - to everyone with a stake in our City's schools - and to listening to their ideas. Together, we will ensure that our school system is focused on student learning and achievement," Klein said.

    In developing a blueprint, Children First will examine every function of the school system, focusing on instructional, operational and organizational issues at the school, district and central office levels. The team will draw upon local and national leaders in instructional practice as well as organizational and operational design to develop an action plan aimed at revamping the school system

    "The animating focus of this entire effort must be to find ways to make every aspect of the system work toward one and only one aim - to create and sustain effective schools," Klein said. more

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    The goal of Children First is to improve achievement across all schools and to address persistently low performing schools by moving innovation and effective school change throughout the system. The Chancellor's team will examine best practices in instruction, management and budget analysis, supporting the core purpose of instruction. Concrete action items will address the challenge of spreading the effective practices of successful schools.

    Leveraging internal expertise, Children First will consult with teachers, principals and superintendents to identify best practices that will inform systemwide change. District 1 Superintendent Helen Santiago said, "The principals, teachers and staff with whom I work on a daily basis genuinely care about the academic achievement of the children in our district. However, we as a school system, need to do a better job of improving the performance of all our schools and all our students. I am confident that Children First will allow us to focus on improving the learning experience and each and every function that leads to more effective classroom instruction."

    "Through their generous gifts, Eli Broad and Julian Robertson have placed their faith in our effort to improve New York public schools. We will not produce an academic study that collects dust. It will be nothing short of an action plan for fundamental reform of the school system from the classroom level on up," said Klein, speaking about Children First's early supporters.

    "The Broad Foundation's mission is to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education," Broad said. "If there were ever a time and place to do just that, it is here in New York City in 2002 under Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein's leadership. With the governance change and the Chancellor's commitment to real reform, the stars are perfectly aligned for fundamental changes in the nation's largest school system.

    "When I saw the team that Chancellor Klein had assembled, I was impressed by the quality of these men and women. It gave me great confidence that such talented and accomplished people would be leading the redesign of the system," said Broad. "I am optimistic about the prospects for real improvement in New York's schools and honored to play a role in it."

    "As a New Yorker who cares deeply about education, I have for years been interested in supporting public schools in the City," Robertson said. "But it wasn't until Mike Bloomberg's election as mayor that I had the confidence that something effective could be done. I was impressed with Chancellor Klein and when he asked for my help, I was happy to be in a position to give it."

    The Broad Foundation is an entrepreneurial grant-making organization, established in 1999 by Eli and Edythe Broad. The Foundation was started with an initial investment of $100 million that was recently increased by the Broad family to $400 million. The Foundation's mission is to dramatically improve K-12 public education through better governance, management and labor relations.

    The Robertson Foundation is a New York based philanthropic initiative founded by Josie and Julian Robertson.

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