Thoughts on New Brandeis High School

| 02 Mar 2015 | 04:30

    to the editor:

    an ad-hoc group of parents, educators and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and experiences are working on a proposal fora district 3 priority and college preparatory high school at the brandeis high school complex ("new writing high school?" june 18).

    hopefully to one day be named the frank mccourt high school of journalism, writing and literature, the school is envisioned as acollege preparatory high schoolfocused on creative and expository writing, journalism, digital communication and literature. its dual language program wouldattract english language learner, bilingual and english dominant students from district 3, which stretches fromwest 59th to 122nd streets in conceived, theschool would open with a 9th grade of 200 students, adding one grade per year for an enrollment of 800 to 1,000 students. admission would be based on academics, writing proficiencyand a portfolio. students would benefit from cultural and professional enrichment affiliations with institutions such as the amsterdam news,columbia graduate school of journalism, fordham universityandsymphony space.

    the department of education has presented the community with an opportunity to shape a powerfully imagined and inspired school.the mccourt school's mission is to prepare students for college, whilereflectingthe community's literary voice,and offeringstudents and parents in harlem and the west side a language arts school with unique strengths and a creative environment.

    gale a. brewer west side council member

    letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

    to the editor: regarding the new proposed writing high school:

    1) to insure the school isn't accessible only to those from certain backgrounds (i.e. white, upper income), i hope they will be vigilant about having admissions criteria that are a) not exclusionary in outcome and b) based on a commitment to having an excellent school of students from diverse backgrounds and with a real range of writing and other "skills" and experience, where everyone's potential can be unleashed and can flourish. educational excellence and an equitable admissions policy are completely compatible. while we all want the best education for our children, and nobody wants it to be at the expense of others, this happens when we create schools that privilege some families over others. schools with, for example, 50 percent or more white students when the high school population is 11 percent white have presumptively discriminatory admissions policies.

    2) how a proposal begins and develops impacts who it ends up serving and favoring. is the planning committee multiracial and multilingual, and from different economic backgrounds and communities? a school that reflects our histories, communities, migration experiences and ways of learning not only promotes the equity our children deserve but also provides a far richer educational experience for all our children.

    donna nevel west side parent and collective member, center for immigrant families

    letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.