Joel Klein gave a great five-minute speech at the REACH launch yesterday. Below is the transcript and I posted the video clip at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yq9AD8IqIQ
REMARKS BY JOEL KLEIN, CHANCELLOR,
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
REACH Launch at The Frederick Douglass Academy
October 15, 2007
First let me start by saying what a joy it is to be here at Frederick Douglass. You know, sometimes people say, “You have a tough job. What do you do to have fun?” The things I do to have fun are to go to schools like Frederick Douglass. It’s great to be here, surrounded by all these great leaders and educators in our city.
I want to commend The Council of Urban Professionals. I want to commend Whitney Tilson and Tarrus Richardson. They had an idea and then they made it happen. They went out and raised some money and got the program off the ground. They went through all the hurdles they had to go through. You know what? It would’ve been just as easy for them to have done something else. But they wanted to make this happen. They wanted to bring innovation to this city.
In education today, ask anyone: “Education and innovation: NEW YORK CITY.” This is another innovative, different way to try to change outcomes for our students in our city. These guys are making it happen. They deserve a great deal of credit.
(To Eddie Rodriguez, REACH Executive Director) Eddie, thank you again. I’m always sorry to lose a great attorney (he used to work for us), but you’re doing the right thing here, Eddie, and you have made a career advancement that I admire, and I thank you for doing it.
Now I want to say a couple of words to you folks here at Frederick Douglass and all of the schools who are represented here. I know all these principals. I know what they’re going to do with this program.
First of all, we have got to change, and change in dramatic ways, educational outcomes for kids who grow up in poverty, kids of color in this city and throughout this country. Don’t believe for a second, don’t believe for a second, that because your family is poor, because your family recently came to the United States, because you are a minority student – don’t believe for a second that you can’t outperform everyone else.
I went to public schools in New York City. My father was a postman, he never made it out of high school. People always told me when I got to Columbia, “If you don’t shoot for the middle of the class, you’re not gonna do right.” And I would say, “My teachers at Bryant High School didn’t send me to Columbia College to be in the middle of the class.” And I want every one of you – when Eddie asks you what magna cum laude means, that means highest honors – and I want every one of you to graduate from college and go on to graduate school. You are leaders. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t leaders. And I want the bar really high.
And tell your friends in other schools. Let’s not start the stuff that “school ain’t for me,” or “it ain’t what I do,” or “that’s for somebody else.” School is for everyone, and we need more kids from this community and from the communities represented by a lot our elected officials here today. I need to challenge those communities – we need to see those kids in colleges and graduate school. We have got to eliminate the racial and ethnic achievement gap in America today, and you guys are going to play a big, big part in that.
Now this program, what it’s going to do is just reward excellence. And I’m all for it. Frederick Douglass stands for excellence and we want to support our kids’ excellence.
Now a lot of people say, “Why are you doing all these innovative things?” And they all have an opinion. Everybody has an opinion who reads a newspaper. Everybody has an opinion: “This is a good idea, this is a bad idea.” Look, you wouldn’t be at Frederick Douglass if you weren’t concerned about achievement and performance academically.
But I have a good idea. For the first time, let’s hear from the people who are going to participate in this program. Let’s hear from those students here today who are taking AP courses. Let me hear by the amount of noise you make what you think about this program. If you think it’s a good program, you better let me hear a lot of noise. (SCREAMING, APPLAUSE)
You guys have silenced the Chancellor. You’ve said it all. Thank you. When I see the results, I know you are gonna knock the leather off the ball at Frederick Douglass.