A Themed Education: Q&A with The Bronx Academy of Letters

The state of public schools in the U.S. has become a public social cause, and a topic of great debate, in recent years. The school system shaping Millennials and post-Millennials has been called broken by some, but the solutions are less clear. Some champion charter schools as the future of the education system, others suggest banning private schools, and recently emphasizing early education by making it a part of the public system, has been held up as a possible solution.

The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters was founded in 2003 during the “small schools movement,” a period of time that larger public schools were being sized down into more manageable organizations with focused curriculums. According to the NYTimes, since 2002 NYC has closed or started a phase out of 63 public high schools, and opened 337 in their place—many of them small themed schools. Today, the movement is continued in a slightly different way, and recently some large schools have been reorganized to house several smaller themed schools all under one roof. Themed educations, schools that focus their curriculums on one particular topic, have been happening all over the country and are one of the educational forces influencing some of the next generation.

The Bronx Academy of Letters is celebrating its 10th birthday, and we were able to sit down with the school’s Executive Director Carrie Angoff and Board President Toni Bernstein, two of the Academy of Letters Advisory Board members, to hear about the obstacles that young and underprivileged Millennials and post-Millennials are facing, and how one school has been working to fix the problem over the last decade.

 

Tell us a little bit about the ethos of the school. How is it different?

Toni: At the time [it was founded], there were these giant, very…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “My favorite app is Pokémon Go, because it's kinda a big deal for those of us who've been dreaming about it for over a decade.”—Female, 21, NJ 

The hottest new trend at Millennial companies: student loan repayments. In a 2015 Iontuition survey, eight in ten respondents say they would like to work for a company that offers student loan repayment assistance, and about half say they prefer student debt help over 401(k) contributions. The benefit has also been shown to deter employees from job-hopping and instead stay to “reap the entirety” of it. Despite the high interest, only 4% of companies are currently offering such programs—including Aetna, Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and SoFi—but a change in legislation that will make the “benefit more favorable from a tax standpoint” may motivate others to follow. (Forbes

Fast casual restaurant Zoës Kitchen sees kids as the “no nugget generation.” The restaurant is debuting an updated kids’ menu that focuses on a variety of nutritious made-from-scratch meals for the “next generation of foodies,” including salmon or shrimp kabobs, ham and cheese piadina made with fresh mozzarella, and an orzo pasta bowl. The President of Zoës Kitchen, who happens to be the father of two young daughters, say that the kids of today “love experiencing new flavors, and gladly choose kabobs and hummus over fries… Ultimately, they crave food that makes them feel good.” (Business Wire

A new documentary is putting six recent graduates in the spotlight as they navigate the startup world in Detroit. Generation Startup, created by an Oscar-winning director, is revealing the “big sacrifices” young entrepreneurs are making “in the hopes of building something new, exciting and, hopefully, financially rewarding.” The graduates are all fellows or alumni for Venture of America, an organization that assists aspiring entrepreneurs, and are faced with challenges that include working 18-hour days, living in uncomfortable environments, and handling disapproval from parents who encourage a more stable career path. (Fast Company

According to a 2016 Bankrate survey, Millennials are great at saving—but that’s mostly because they have to be. About 62% of 18-29-year-olds are saving at least 5% of their income, which has become even more necessary in unreliable workplaces of today. Employers are increasingly hiring temporary employees or independent contractors, and as a result are not offering benefits like health insurance and paid leave. Many Millennials who can save have also been privileged with access to their parents’ financial help, which white children are three more likely to have than black children. (Quartz

Pokémon mania is passing its peak. Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia data have revealed that “Pokémon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend,” which many have observed is expected of any app that receives such intense initial attention. In our recent survey on Pokémon Go players we found that more than half consider the game a fad that no will care about a year from now. Google Trends data is also showing declining interest in augmented reality, however the possibilities of the technology shouldn’t be discounted after so many young consumers showed they will embrace it. (Bloomberg

Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is a two-way street of respect and telling the truth.”—Female, 17, WI

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