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: "GoPro does a great job appealing to my generation because they convince regular people that they are adventurous, like many college kids like to think of themselves." –Male, 22, MD

Facebook continues to evolve to keep up with social platform competitors attracting younger users. The site has announced changes to their standalone chat app Messenger that will transform it into a platform that third parties can develop content and services for, including games, hotel bookings, tickets, and peer-to-peer payments. The new Businesses on Messenger feature would allow users to chat with brands to make purchases and change orders, and could make shopping a more personal experience. Facebook will also be adding the ability to chat with memes and GIFs, features that have proved popular with young consumers on other chat apps. (re/code,Fast Company)

Millennials are wary of investments, and generally anxious about their finances, and some have turned to new services that let them take baby steps into the financial world. More traditional institutions have certainly taken notice. Northwestern Mutual recently acquired LearnVest, a startup that offers free and paid financial planning services including articles, advice, and access to an expert for guidance on spending and budgets. The purchase is the latest in a trend of financial tech companies being snapped up by older, less digitally savvy brands. (FortuneBusiness Insider)

While many startups and sites are working to combat cyberbullying, one app is receiving an enormous amount of backlash for fostering the behavior in high schools. Burnbook allows users to join communities, usually around a school, remain anonymous, and post on topics of their choice. Although the app encourages “jokes, fails, wins, shout outs, revelations, proclamations, and confessions,” posts have been used to target specific people and groups, and threats have been made to at least one school. Some parents and teens are trying to use the app to spread positivity, but those posts don’t seem to outweigh the “gruesome things.” (Mashable)

Toys “R” Us will begin to sell an experience alongside its products with the hope of regaining their footing in the toy industry. Discount options like Wal-Mart and Amazon have hurt the chain’s sales over the past few years, so new plans to revamp stores will add physical play areas and more technology for kids to interact with. The retailer wants to be a place “where kids want to go and play,” and their new prototype store will open later this year. (Bloomberg)

For better or for worse, technology is becoming an intrinsic part of childhood, but boys and girls might not be growing up with the same tech experiences. A new study of parents of kids ages two to nine found that in many cases, parents give their children different devices depending on their gender. Sons were more likely to be given smartphones or gaming devices while daughters received more tablets (73% vs. 65% for boys). Parents were also more likely to use tech to calm down sons, with 48% using a device to help soothe boys when they are upset, compared to 37% for girls. (Kidscreen)

That image at the bottom of our newsletter is a gateway to insights and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends. Clicking on it takes readers to our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold subscribers, which illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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