Contact your superintendent

If you support voluntary diverse interdistrict magnet schools as a way to improve the learning opportunities for all students in our community, consider writing to your district superintendent, encouraging him or her to join other superintendents who will soon begin to discuss the idea.

Below is a sample letter you may cut and paste into an email, but by all means write your own personal letter if you prefer. If you contact your Superintendent, please copy us in on your letter at

Need help finding the contact information? The links below take you to your district’s web page with the superintendent’s contact information:


Feel free to share this link with any friends who may also support this effort.

Thank you.

Melody Wollgren and Mark Hare

Dear [Superintendent]:

As a resident/parent/alum etc. of [district], I ask you to participate in any meetings with other superintendents who are considering magnet schools to provide a more diverse learning environment for interested students in Monroe County.

Having recently read Justin Murphy’s D&C story on these schools and the Orrick Report commissioned by Great Schools for All (GS4A), I understand an initial meeting may occur soon.

The report was completed by the global Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe law firm. Neither GS4A, a local advocacy group of parents and community members, nor the report call for a consolidation of school districts. Rather, the report lays out the steps needed to permit districts to voluntarily collaborate in developing pilot magnet schools that would be purposefully socioeconomically and racially diverse. It would also allow districts to offer unique educational opportunities not currently available in other schools.

The report is available here:

I believe, consistent with the Orrick report, that all children will benefit from truly diverse schools. Decades of research demonstrate “unequivocally” that socioeconomically and racially integrated schools significantly improve the odds of student success on academic outcomes such as graduation rates, along with improved problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and preparation for the changing 21st-century workforce, as well as improved outcomes as adults. Improved outcomes are especially impressive among low-income students, although the research demonstrates that all students in intentionally diverse schools benefit.

I would like to see [this district] participate in order to offer District students the opportunity to attend such a school. Your attendance at an initial meeting would demonstrate that our district is forward thinking, innovative and willing to explore options to provide the best educational experiences for our students and families. Participation will also ensure that our district has a seat at the table and can be instrumental in creating and shaping such schools.

I look forward to hearing about ongoing educational partnerships to best serve our community.


National report supports creation of diverse interdistrict magnet schools in Monroe County:  Several superintendents to meet to discuss report

A thoroughly-documented new report shows that diverse magnets are an effective tool in rolling back segregation and improving educational outcomes for all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

This summary was written by Mark Hare and Don Pryor.

Several Monroe County school superintendents will soon meet to discuss how to proceed in response to the new research report, which analyzes the possible creation of one or more pilot interdistrict collaborative magnet schools. Attendance at these schools would be voluntary, but each would be “intentionally integrated,” with a racially and socioeconomically diverse mix of city and suburban students.

This convening could be a first step toward possible interdistrict collaboration as a partial remedy for the troubling effects of high-poverty segregated city schools. Great Schools for All, a citizens advocacy group, has been calling for years for a network of these schools to improve the odds of success for the most disadvantaged students in the county—and to improve the skills needed by all students to successfully navigate the 21st century.

Great Schools for All does not call for consolidation of school districts, but rather for a mechanism that would permit districts to jointly and voluntarily develop magnet schools to better serve the needs of their students and the Greater Rochester community.

view the report

Great Schools has just released the independent report from the Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe law firm, based in Washington and NYC,[i] which objectively assessed the viability of our magnet schools proposal. Such schools would center curriculum around themes (e.g., health careers, language immersion, environmental science, social justice) to offer programs not otherwise available in Monroe County schools.

The report’s primary conclusion:  GS4A’s proposed “Breakthrough Schools that are socioeconomically and racially diverse and that offer unique educational opportunities not otherwise available to students in Monroe County school districts should be considered a realistic, feasible and viable option likely to improve educational outcomes and long-term success among all students, and particularly those in geographical areas with high concentrations of poverty. This report outlines practical proposals designed to incentivize school districts to collaborate in the creation of a structure to implement proposed pilot interdistrict magnet schools.”

Continue reading

Great Schools for All / Roc2Change Student Survey Results

Great Schools for All (GS4A) has published the analysis of a collaborative survey of students in Monroe County Schools conducted in May and June of 2021. GS4A partnered with students planning the ROC2Change virtual gathering which brought over 300 students together to discuss the current – and historic – racial and economic segregation in Monroe County. Students who participated reflected representation from almost every school district, parochial and private high school in Monroe County.

Read the “Student Survey Summary Report” here.

With student planners, GS4A was able to help design a student survey to determine potential student interest in and support for voluntary, racially and socio-economically diverse cross-district magnet schools. Student perspectives are critical in considering community education options, as they are the ones who will ultimately determine whether such schools should be part of the answer to racial and economic segregation in our community. The analysis of student responses was conducted by Research America, Inc., in August of 2021.

GS4A surveyed over 600 city and suburban parents in May of 2016 (“Great Schools for All Parent Survey Summary Report”) about the possibilities of diverse magnet schools. The survey of students touched on many of the same issues. In that survey, between 70% and 80% or more of all respondents supported the concept of such schools.

Continue reading

Seeking social-media skills

Hello Great School supporters,

Although we’ve had a low profile for a while, Great Schools for All has been quietly developing a proposal for interdistrict magnet schools that would be socioeconomically and racially diverse, jointly administered by two or more school districts and open to students from across Monroe County. We have been meeting with state legislators, city officials, and the RCSD and BOCES superintendents. We hope soon to meet with additional superintendents and other interested parties. We have also recently conducted a survey of students, and have received a comprehensive report from the Orrick law firm that addresses a number of issues that need to be resolved in the process of creating diverse magnet schools.  We will be sharing summaries of these research initiatives in the near future.

We’re hoping to begin a social media campaign this fall, focused on getting our message in front of multiple audiences and asking community members for support in a variety of ways.

If you have social media skills and would be interested in helping, we’d like to hear from you. We’ll be working with Causewave to shape a detailed communications strategy and doing some hands-on social media training. We expect the program will involve four 90-minute sessions, including both strategy development and social media training. Interested? Contact Mark Hare using our contact page.

GS4A: quiet, but still very active

Yes, we’re still at it! Quietly but steadily, Great Schools for All continues to work behind the scenes to build support for the creation over time of a network of voluntary cross-district socioeconomically diverse magnet schools offering opportunities not otherwise available in our current schools – new schools designed to improve outcomes for all students, especially those living with the effects of concentrated poverty.

Decades of research clearly indicate that the odds of graduation and other measures of student success dramatically improve for low-income students in such integrated schools, reducing disparities between low-income and middle-income students. Moreover, students of all income and racial/ethnic groups in such schools benefit from improved decision-making, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, teamwork and ability to process diverse perspectives and approaches, and improved preparation for the increasingly-diverse workforce and society of the future. More recent research also indicates that the benefits continue into adulthood, with students from such schools experiencing higher levels of family and income stability, less dependence on public assistance, and less involvement in the criminal justice system.

We realize there are many obstacles to introducing systemic change at a time when school districts are dealing with the pandemic, fiscal uncertainty and dwindling resources, in addition to the need to address issues of racism in our schools and community, On the other hand, crises present opportunities for new approaches to be considered, and many organizations throughout the community are looking at ways in which we can use the crises of the moment to think creatively about new initiatives and approaches to many issues, including the educational opportunities we provide for our students. Continue reading

Raleigh/Wake County graduation rates continue to increase for all subgroups; disparity gaps cut in half

In the Raleigh/Wake County public school system, more than 35 magnet schools of varying grade levels have been established over the years, each deliberately drawing a socioeconomically diverse student population. GS4A representatives spent three days visiting the district several years ago, and were impressed with the strong schools and the student outcomes. There have been many changes since we visited, including some frustrations as a result of political and demographic shifts in the community.  But throughout these changes, graduation rates have continued to increase steadily across all racial and ethnic subgroups over the past 10 years, with the biggest gains among Black and Hispanic/Latino students.  Gaps in graduation rates between white students and Latino and Black students have been cut in half during that time. Rates for all subgroups far exceed those among Rochester City School District students.  For more details, see the five-page report here.

Rochester needs socioeconomically diverse, cross-district magnet schools

Excerpt from a Rochester Beacon opinion from April 22, 2019 by Mark Hare and Don Pryor

“GS4A is not advocating the creation of a single countywide school district. Rather, we support a network of voluntary interdistrict schools. Our niche at GS4A has been to insist on a public school system that does its job to sharply improve the odds of success for all children—and in particular for those most at risk of failure. Socioeconomically diverse schools can significantly improve the odds.”

Minneapolis unrest stems from segregated schools and neighborhoods 

NY Times opinion by Myron Orfield  and Will Stancil: “George Floyd and Derek Chauvin Might as Well Have Lived on Different Planets” – June 3, 2020

“Minneapolis also operated an aggressive school desegregation plan…This new approach focused more on improving segregated schools than eliminating them, and uplifting impoverished neighborhoods without directly addressing the region’s racialized living patterns. “

Rochester’s extreme school segregation, worst in U.S.

From the LA School Report: “Haves and have-nots: The borders between school districts often mark extreme segregation. A new study outlines America’s 50 worst cases”  by Mark Keierleber, January 22, 2020

“The Rust Belt city of Rochester in upstate New York has the most economically segregating school district border in the country, walling off the high-poverty education system from its affluent neighbors next door, according to a new report.”