Dear Governor Cuomo and New York State Legislators:
The Lakeland Central School District has some very good news for the Governor and all of you. While the governor may contend that New York schools are "failing," we want everyone to know "Lakeland schools are not failing."
In his 2015 State of the State Speech, the Governor stated that "38% of high school students are college ready." He went on to state that "31% of third to eighth graders are proficient in English and 35% of third to eight graders are proficient in Math."
In speaking of graduation rates, the Governor had this to say: "The state average for graduation is 76%, and in a failing school it is 47%." The Governor added, "When a school fails for three years, a not-for-profit, another school district or a turn-around expert must take over the school and they must create a plan to overhaul dramatically and improve the entire school."
Here is some of the good news. In Lakeland, 99% of our students graduate, 95% of our students attend two and four year colleges and 70% graduate from four year colleges.
While test cut scores set by New York State may indicate that our third to eighth graders are not proficient in English and Math that is not the case in Lakeland. Our validated local assessments, which are statistically reliable and nationally normed, indicate that 81% of Lakeland students in grades three through eight are proficient in English, and 84% are proficient in Math.
Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School has been designated a distinguished New York State "School to Watch" since 2010 with two subsequent re-designations. Recently, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School has been named a "Remarkable School" by the Office of the Westchester County Executive. Van Cortlandtville Elementary School was named a PTA School of Excellence for 2014-2016. Once again, in 2015, two of our four Destination Imagination teams qualified for the World Global Finals. In the past years, we have had more than 150 National Merit Scholarship Finalists, Semifinalists and Commended students. Lakeland's Debate team has won more than 79 awards in competitions throughout the country. District musicians are consistently recognized with All-State designations in chorus, jazz band, and orchestra. In athletics, more than 40 of our 85 sports teams have been designated as scholar-athlete award winners or team grade averages of 90% or better. This year, our field hockey team will compete for its seventh straight state title. More than 100 of our students with disabilities participated in "Pioneer Leagues" and "Backyard Sports" with the help of high school students who volunteer many hours of community service.
Our students go on to numerous prestigious colleges, this past year including American University, Carnegie Mellon, Colgate, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, and Yale. A district graduate is now the President of Colgate University.
Please join us in strongly disagreeing with the Governor's claims of "failure" in our schools. We implore you to work with your local school districts such as Lakeland to establish a reformed system of public education that is based on reality, common sense, success, and achievement. We have many ideas about how to build an effective working model for curriculum, instruction assessment and evaluation and would appreciate the opportunity to share our ideas with you.