An Exciting New School

Written by admin on . Posted in Editorial, Opinion and Column.

Parents in Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side, as well as throughout the city, should be excited by an idea that was proposed at Brandeis High School last week: a racially and ethnically diverse new high school on West 84th Street emphasizing writing and literature that may open in September 2010.

The many supporters of this proposed school are calling it the Frank McCourt High School of Journalism, Writing and Literature, named after the famous Stuyvesant High School teacher who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his poignant memoir Angela’s Ashes. Although city regulations do not allow schools to be named after living individuals, the growing legion of supporters are using his name in the hopes that one day the new school will honor America’s most famous teacher. That’s an idea we can all support: naming a new school after a successful and much beloved educator.

The content and vision of the school has infused uptown parents with excitement; a school emphasizing journalism, writing and literature would highlight a broad spectrum of communications, from expository essays to digital presentations. We live in an age when a multi-media approach to learning is required, but the common thread is good writing and a powerful use of language.

Although some forms of journalism are experiencing challenges, there will always be a need for a Fourth Estate to be a watchdog of our government and those in power. Creative writing will always enchant us and help fuel our popular entertainment, whether on a printed page, a Kindle or the big screen. Expository and essay writing will always be necessary for lawyers, academics and other professionals.

This new high school will be able to draw on a great pool of writers, literary professionals and published journalists and authors to attract teaching talent and guest lecturers. It will become a diverse place where kids of every race, ethnic group and socio-economic background can flourish as writers.

The school’s supporters say they will encourage students to write in other languages, with a strong emphasis on Spanish bilingual writing programs. Already, a few esteemed local institutions have expressed interest in becoming partners, including The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Symphony Space and Fordham University.

We wholeheartedly endorse this idea and applaud local leaders like Borough President Scott Stringer, Council Members Gale Brewer and Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Sen. Tom Duane, who have been early supporters of this proposed school. Publisher Elinor Tatum of the New York Amsterdam News, the city’s largest and oldest African American newspaper, has also voiced her support of this idea, as have many Harlem parents.

Let’s encourage the Department of Education to work with this diverse group of parents and local leaders to make this proposed school a reality in 2010.

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  • Sarah

    Writing/Publishing/Journalism are difficult fiedls to get into via the traditional routes. Typically, you get a college degree in communications, or journalism, and then apply to jobs many of which are posted at the school. One can get on a college newspaper, enter writing competitions, or start one’s own newsletter to establish credibility.However, this field is changing. Google just purchased a machine that allows people to print their own books on location (from digital memory devices). Also, for a fee Google will publish your blog as a book, and give you a choice of covers for your book (but it is an over-priced option).Further, if you have a degree, you can apply online to a variety of jobs at newspapers. Typically, they will hire beat reporters faster than, staff writers unless you know someone, who can get you hired.Finally, my favorite recommendation to your question: write the book in the evenings, and on weekends. Copy-write it. Make sure that the content is really good, interesting, and well written/edited. Then, consider getting a writer’s agent to help shop your book around , submit it, and negotiate deals with publishers (like Random House etc.) that accept, unsolicited works .Alternatively, Barnes Noble or Borders, used to have a, vanity publishing department. You can check into that too.Good grief. Ideas keep coming. (Sorry.)Start blogging. It helps you to learn about and improve your writing style. After you’ve had it a while you will be able to demonstrate your writing experience to people who hire professional bloggers. I am in the process of doing this myself.If you care to, follow my job blog / writing journey atA Jab at Work and feel free to submit your comments ; )