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[Susan notes: Three cheers for this advocacy of reexamining the one-size-fits-all curriculum that plagues our schools.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re "Reinventing High School" (editorial, Feb. 1):

Teacher training and manipulation of statistics may be factors in the "lost ground" of America's high schools, but we must also look at the headlong and often mindless rush to define "high school" only as "college preparatory."

New York State insists that all of its graduates pursue the same curriculum that was once reserved for the 20 percent who, in 1920, went to college. Clearly, more than 20 percent of our youngsters should be prepared for college, but it does not follow that 100 percent should be driven into a solely academic track, to the exclusion of concentration in art, music or the trades.

What is needed is a rethinking of the ends of high school, like that undertaken in 1917, when the country decided that high school should be for all people - not merely an academic elite. Both the goals and the process of high school must be replanned.

The writer is on the faculty of Brooklyn College's School of Education and was superintendent of the New York City Board of Education's alternative high schools and programs from 1982 to 1997.

Stephen E. Phillips

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