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: 

Q: What goals do you have for yourself that your parents did not have? 

A: “Working for myself, finding a career field that fits with both my interests and skills, being in a relationship(s?) that is healthy and promotes growth (not necessarily marriage)…” –Male, 23, D.C.

Summer isn’t over yet, but there is already a prediction for what will be THE toy of the holiday season. The BB-8 droid, viral star of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, has been made into a real, working remote-control toy “every Star Wars fan has dreamed of owning.” The BB-8 droid can be controlled via smartphone app and with verbal commands, and operates like a remote control car—with the added magic of a robot head staying balanced on top of it. (WSJ)

“Give me my mobile TV!” According to Ericsson’s new media report, more than half of Millennials’ entertainment viewing time (53%) is spent on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The numbers are even more dramatic among teens, who are watching nearly 75% of their TV and videos on mobile. Unsurprisingly, younger viewers are also watching linear TV less than older audiences, with 60% of 16-34-year-olds watching everyday, compared to 82% of 60-69-year-olds. (The Verge)

Major entertainment brands and TV networks are teaming up to solve the problem of the “growing legion of missing kids.” (See above.) The recently formed Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement is backed by Time Warner, Disney, NBCU, and many others, and is studying the viewing behavior of 2-17-year-olds to create a new measurement system that could account for all of the ways that they consume video—outside of “’old-school’ TV.” (Variety)

The teen years used to be all about fitting in, but for today’s middle and high schoolers, standing out is so much cooler than being like everyone else. Ypulse’s own Chief Content Officer MaryLeigh Bliss weighed in with a little why behind the what: “Teenagers have grown up learning innately about personal branding in order to stand out in a sea of billions of people. If you want followers and likes, you have to display photos and videos that show you doing and wearing interesting things. Otherwise you’re going to fade into the background.” (The Globe and Mail)

Children’s nonfiction is having a moment. Nonfiction children’s book sales have reportedly spiked, going up 38% in the last year for Penguin Young Readers Group. At Scholastic, Minecraft handbooks have in-print figures over 17.5 million, and non-fiction annuals like Scholastic Year in Sports have become so popular they are expanding the series with a gaming edition. (Publishers Weekly)

Quote of the Day: “My aspiration is to retire early and travel!” –Male, 27, CA

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