This was written by Carol Corbett Burris, the principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. The full letter can be read at The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Duncan:
You have never been to my high school, but if you visited, you would be impressed. It is an integrated suburban public high school that meets AYP each year for all groups of children. We are on all of the top 100 lists -- U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek and The Washington Post. Over 80% of our students graduate having passed the state exam in Algebra 2/Trigonometry and over 60% graduate with AP Calculus under their belt. We do a good job by the students we serve, some of whom have difficult life circumstances. I doubt that you will ever visit -- we are not a KIPP or other charter school likely to attract your attention. I think you should know, though, something about the teachers who work with me.
As I walked into my high school the last week of school, I met Thom, arriving early to give one last extra-help session to his physics students. On the previous Saturday, Matt made the trip in to prepare his students for their math exam. He used Saturday because his colleague, Kaitlyn, was coaching some of the same kids for the Global Regents exam after school on Friday. Such generosity on the part of teachers has been part of the school culture for years.
As principal, I am so grateful for the commitment our teachers make to their students. I have seen faculty reach deep into their pockets to help out kids in need, take kids to community college to register, or sit for hours in a hospital emergency room until a parent arrives.