This fall, Boston’s largest public elementary school, with an all-minority student body, will reopen as a no-excuses charter.
Dear [insert name here]:
Another school year is about to start and I’ve got some exciting changes to share with you. Your old school, John J. Marshall, with its low expectations and old teachers is no more. Instead, you will be attending UP Academy, an exciting new school with fresh new teachers, fresh new administrators and none of the excuses that were the rule at your old school. So what can you expect? Let’s take a look…
8 hours 4 school
The first thing you’ll notice is that you don’t get to go home for a really long time. You see, here’s the problem. By the time McKenzie and Emma arrive at their elementary schools in the suburbs, they already know big words like “dressage” and “catamaran.” Lots of important grownups have decided that there isn’t anything we can do about the fact that McKenzie and Emma’s families have lots of money while yours doesn’t have any. 🙁 That’s why your school day has to be EXTRA long.
Remember that time when you dropped your pencil last year (accidentally on purpose)? Nothing happened, right? At your new school, dropping a pencil gets you something called a demerit. Better pick it up quick or you’ll get another one, and too many demerits will earn you something called a suspension. Say it with me: suss-pen-shun. You see, you are college bound now, which means that you have to learn to “self regulate,” and it is a well known fact that Emma and McKenzie do not drop their pencils. Since you are only in first grade, sustained self-regulation may prove to be a bit of a challenge at first as first graders tend to be wriggly and disruptive by nature.
New kids on the block
Going to a new school can be scary. But you won’t be the only one at UP Academy Dorchester who has a lot to learn. None of the administrators who will be in charge of your new school, including your principal, has any experience running an elementary school 🙁 If they mess up, you can give them a demerit. Just kidding! Only students can earn demerits, silly.
Tests r fun
Do you like to take tests? Good! Because you will be taking a lot of them 🙂 You see, now that you are college bound, it is very important that your new teachers (and by new, I mean *new*) see how you are doing on your path to college. They do this by analyzing your data. Say it with me: day-tah. Your new principal used to work at a place called the Achievement Network, which helps kids take tests by giving them lots of extra test to take. Emma and McKenzie don’t have to take lots of extra tests because they never drop their pencils…
New teachers r better
Many of the teachers at your old school had been teaching for a long time, which is how we know that they were bad. Your new school has lots of fresh new teachers. Also, your old teachers had very low expectations because they were only teaching for themselves. That’s bad 🙁 Many of your fresh new teachers are Teaching for America. In fact 16 of the fresh new teachers or leaders at your new school are either TFA corps members or alumni. Say it with me: Tee Eff Eh. That spells great!
The white man with a brief case is a money manager
Your new school is WAY better than your bad old school, which is why there are so many important people who serve on your school’s board of directors. Let’s see: there’s someone from Bain Capital, someone from the mayor’s office, a state representative and lots of other people with words like “equities,” “venture,” and “strategic” in their titles. This is great news because it means that they are investing in your future! What’s that? I don’t know why they didn’t want to invest in your future before. And no, I’m afraid your mom can’t be on the board of directors. Better leave an important issue like investing in your future to the experts.
Where’d u go?
When school starts, you’ll see lots of the same kids who went to your bad old school. But better catch up quick! You see, not all kids like the combination of data, discipline and drilling that leads to college. Which is why so many of the kids at UP’s other school in Boston dropped out and went to other schools. UP even gave one little girl a ride to her new public school while she was still wearing her UP uniform. I bet they rode fast! There will be new kids coming too. You see as chairs open up, UP likes to invite kids who are good at taking tests to come and sit in them—like this little girl.
The best thing about your new school is that all of the news about it will be good. Do you like to read the paper? Don’t worry—nobody else does either. Besides, there’s no reason to read it when we already know what it will say. The kids at your new school are exactly the same as the ones at your old school, only better. And their test scores just keep going up and up and up. In fact, they are going up so much that soon they will be the same as Emma and McKenzie’s test scores.There will be some grownups who ask questions but they will be ignored or called haters. Say it with me: hay-ters. Finally, when there are too many questions to ignore, the newspaper will run a story that isn’t so good, like this one. But by then, lots and lots of students will be gone, maybe even you. Besides, who reads newspapers anyway?
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