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Mission Statement

It is our mission to create democratic learning communities which work toward rigorous academic

equity for all students and teachers, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, national

or ethnic origin, age, or disability in the administration of its programs or activities, in the recruitment

and hiring of consultants and employees to further these programs, or in its affiliation and support of

schools and individuals.

Our Rationale

Our work is premised on our commitment to provide support to those who live and work in educational

communities - principals, teachers, students, parents and others. Opportunities for professional

development and critical dialogue support the capacity of those in schools to strengthen their

communities. Our work does not prescribe change, but rather recognizes and supports the potential

of school communities to reinvent themselves as rigorous and equitable centers of learning. We help

to design deliberate interventions to improve teacher knowledge and skills, to provide extra

assistance to students at risk of failure, and to build school communities that are capable of

responding to performance pressures.

We help to design professional development that develops the capacity of teachers to work

collectively on problems of practice, within their own schools, and with practitioners in other settings.

Reflective practice is an integral component of the work of MACES. Reflection requires practitioners

to: deliberately pause, to take a purposeful look at the work they do; be willing to be open to sharing

others points of view; process thoughts consciously; examine beliefs, goals and practices; gain new

insights and understandings; expand one's repertoire of strategies; take action as a result of what's

been learned.

"Becoming a part of a discourse community assures teachers that their knowledge of their students

and schooling is respected." (McLaughlin and Lieberman, 1992, p. 674)

So... Who Are We?

The Coalition of Essential Schools: A Principle-Based Approach to School Reform

The Mid-Atlantic Coalition of Essential Schools, Inc. (MACES) is a dynamic organization dedicated to

helping students to achieve their full potential and to assist schools to become centers of excellence.

MACES is one of nineteen regional centers of the National Coalition of Essential Schools, a school

reform network of nearly 1000 schools founded by Theodore Sizer at Brown University in 1984.

MACES works to create schools where every student is known well and learns to use his or her mind

well. These ideas, referred to as the Ten Common Principles, articulate a vision of students who

achieve and demonstrate a depth of knowledge and understanding.

It is clear that making the changes necessary to fulfill the vision of education articulated by the

Common Principles must happen school by school, teacher by teacher, student by student, parent by

parent, as the result of deeply held and well understood convictions. While outsiders can be powerful

sources of ideas, inspiration and provocation, school reform is an inescapably local phenomenon. At

the same time, few schools, acting individually, are able to make the changes necessary to fulfill the

vision of education articulated by the principles. For this reason, the Coalition works at several levels.

A Principle-Based Approach to Reform

The Common Principles - rather than a model of any sort - provide the common thread among

Coalition schools. The principle-based approach assumes that rather than being "implementers",

teachers, administrators, and community members are, in fact, "inventors". It assumes that good

schools must be finely attuned to their students and to their local needs and resources. The faculty

and community of a CES school must decide how to apply the principles in its school's unique

context, for the principles assert powerful ideas about schooling rather than mandating a particular


Instead of serving as a blueprint for change, then, the Common Principles challenge a school

community to examine its priorities and to redesign curriculum, instruction, assessment, and

organizational structures. Each school develops its own programs, suited to its particular students,

faculty, and community. No two Coalition schools are exactly alike, even when they are striving to

fulfill all of the Common Principles - and this, in the Coalition's view, is as it should be.

MACES offers professional development opportunities for educators in keeping with school reform

initiatives and in accordance with Pennsylvania state requirements. Dr. JoAnn Caplan, Executive

Director, is responsible for the design and coordination of the MACES continuing education program.

MACES works with schools to create personalized, "Small school" environments that facilitate

opportunities for all students to achieve and to be known.

Reference: Education Week, "Finding Their Voices", October 4, 2000 by Kathleen Kennedy-Manzo.

Board Members

Rosemary Cataldi, President

Estar Weiss Getson

Edward Davis

Valerie Williams

Howard Salasin, (Emeritus)