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[Susan notes: It seems appalling that the schools chancellor denies the devastating effects of poverty.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

We as a city and a nation must do more to address poverty and its root causes. But Diana Jean Schemo’s column “It Takes More Than Schools to Close Achievement Gap” (On Education, Aug. 9) severely underestimates the difference that good schools can make.

At many public schools, more than half of our disadvantaged students drop out before they reach the 12th grade, but at New York’s new small schools, serving the same populations, graduation rates are projected to be 73 percent. And Achievement First charter schools report that they send 95 percent of graduates to four-year colleges.

Ms. Schemo quotes experts saying that schools “can’t do much better” until we reduce poverty. But this is what we know: Schools will never do better as long as that attitude prevails. Great educators succeed in no small part because they take responsibility, expecting high achievement from their students and from themselves. This is the ethic we are trying to foster in New York City today.

Joel I. Klein, New York City Schools Chancellor

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