Deborah Meier’s Stand on Central Park East I: A Crucible for Progressive Education

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In 1974, a small elementary school blossomed in East Harlem. The seeds were planted by Deborah Meier, renowned thinker, teacher, principal, education activist, and recipient of a McArthur “genius” award. Blessed by Anthony Alvarado, a forward-thinking superintendent in New York City, Central Park East I became a beacon of progressive, child-centered practice.

The school embodies Meier’s vision. “Democracy demands we acknowledge everyone’s inalienable capacity to be an inventor, dreamer, and theorist—to count in the larger scheme of things,” she wrote in The Power of Their Ideas. She warned us long ago about the dire . . . Read full article →

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Kenya Dilday’s Choice: Her Black Child Matters at Central Park East 1

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Another S.O.S. from Harlem’s Central Park East 1 elementary school floated amid the deluge of my inbox yesterday. “Save CPE1” was the subject line.

This April, before the annual round of high-stakes testing, a petition began circulating in support of this home of progressive, child-centered practice. Here, the opt-out rate in 2015 was 81 percent. CPE 1 was founded in 1974 by Deborah Meier, writer, teacher, principal, and education activist—one of several created in East Harlem under the guidance of Anthony Alvarado, a forward-thinking superintendent of District 4, in the nation’s largest school system.

The . . . Read full article →

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Sending an S.O.S from a Small School in Harlem

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As the season of high-stakes testing got underway, winter’s chill unabated, a petition began to circulate, a flower of democracy. “Save Central Park East 1 Elementary School!” it read.

The school, founded in 1974, is the brainchild of Deborah Meier, beloved writer, teacher, principal, and education activist—one of several created in East Harlem, with the blessing of Anthony Alvarado, a forward-thinking superintendent of District 4 in New York City. A guiding light of the small-schools movement, she snagged a MacArthur “genius” award for her vision.

For parents in New York City, Central Park East 1 has been . . . Read full article →

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Test Nation II: NYC Opts Out

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“April is the cruelest month,” T.S. Eliot wrote in the opening canto of The Waste Land. The month in which America celebrates child abuse prevention.

Each spring, the English Language Arts, math, and science tests arrive, New York City’s third- to eighth-grade public school students busily filling in bubbles. As one parent told me a few years ago, her high-achieving, logical eight-year-old was reduced to tears upon returning to his classroom after spring break to what has become a torturous rite of passage. This, after enduring 45 minutes of test prep each morning since September.

Now . . . Read full article →

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