Correction: This column previously stated incorrectly that Quinn-Jacobs’ son graduated from New Roots. In fact, he is still a student there.

Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion column submitted by Katie Quinn-Jacobs, whose son attends the New Roots charter school.

The column is a response to another guest piece published Thursday: “Opinion: Low graduation rate shows Ithaca’s New Roots is a ‘failing school’.” That column was written by Vice Chair of  the Tompkins County Republican Party Henry Kramer,

As always, The Voice is willing to print alternative or dissenting viewpoints. To do so, contact me at

— Jeff Stein

Why I shop downtown — Carmen

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Written by Katie Quinn-Jacobs:

My son, Sam, is in his second year as a sophomore at New Roots, so our family has had the benefit—the privilege—of experiencing the school for two years now.  We have the perspective of the school beyond the numbers.  We see that each teenager in the school is more than just counted, they matter.  Their presence, their contribution matters. The learning that takes place every day for the 150 students at New Roots is the center of these children’s lives and the answer to their need for education in our community.

Already this academic year, I have seen New Roots students taking a stand in Albany, bringing youthful voices and insights to the debate about the local power plant; practicing rescue simulations and earning CPR, AED and Wilderness First Aid certifications; working as a team to prepare for a national competition in International Humanitarian Law; playing a spirited game of soccer against the faculty and staff, who— unfortunately for the kids—turned out to be quite limber; learning classical guitar and how to play “Here Comes the Sun.”

We all know there is a greater story beyond the numbers.  But it is a story that requires seeing the individual students, knowing their individual stories.

Unfortunately, the numbers can’t capture who these kids are, where they have been, and where they are heading.  For the 150 New Roots students, the singular, nurturing and academically challenging education provided by the school is greater than the sum of its parts.  Inside the walls of the Clinton House, every New Roots student is beating the numbers game each school day.

Katie Quinn-Jacobs

52 Sodom Rd.

Ithaca, NY

Please visit for more information about New Roots graduation rates and more family and student perspectives on the educational opportunities the school offers high school students in our region.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.