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 and 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 will honor America’s most famous teacher. That’s an idea we can all support: naming a 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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