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[Susan notes: Steve's letter shows how we are all in this struggle together--an important point to make over and over.

For more on the Fairport story, see:

Published in (Rochester, NY) Democrat and Chronicle

To the editor

I am writing you because there is a special delicate bond between the Fairport, NY school district and our educational program some thousand miles south in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the cradles of the civil rights movement in this country.

On March 15, 2003, your Fairport School Superintendent, Dr. Bill Cala, was presented with a certificate of appreciation for Civic Courage by the students and staff of the World of Opportunity (WOO) educational and job readiness program. We recognized Cala for his keen and active interest in ALL of the students in the Fairport district. We admire Cala's work and leadership and the fact that he seeks to develop the potential and creativity of all the children in the district; not to limit student's horizons by narrowly designed curriculum which teaches to tests, nor tracks and sorts students by test scores.

How ironic that what we in Birmingham recognize as taking a principled stand for the civil rights of the Fairport school children by the superintendent and school board, is viewed as neglect by top state education officials.

I hope that State Education Commissioner Mills and Governor Pataki will have an opportunity to walk through the halls of Fairport schools with Superintendent Cala and other elected Board members, and listen to the students, teachers, and parents. Hopefully, Commissioner Mills will lend support to the Fairport school district's efforts to meet the need of all the students and ask how he might be of help, rather than to waste time and taxpayer money attacking the elected Fairport Board of Education.

Congratulations to the Fairport School Board members and Superintendent Cala for focusing on the needs of all children and each child.

Steve Orel


World of Opportunity (WOO)

Birmingham, AL


Steve Orel

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