Charters at a new crossroads: Push past the politics and find a way to grow community-based schools

Updated: May 10, 2019

In 1991, I abandoned a bucolic life upstate to take a job as a science editor at Scholastic. The energy jolt of coming to the city had an immediate and lasting effect, and in the 27 years since my wife and I moved to Queens, I've founded three businesses, two nonprofit organizations and, most consequentially, two charter schools that are focused on what we used to call the "liberal arts."

These two schools — Our World Neighborhood Charter School in LIC and Academy of the City Charter School in Woodside — are my most gratifying adventures as an educator and entrepreneur. Both reflect the dazzling mosaic of western Queens and delight in helping students internalize this legacy to become compassionate world citizens.

Both schools have solid leadership, community and parent representation on their governing boards and programming that is about as "progressive" as possible given the obligations of their charter contracts to produce high outcomes on tests. The schools are highly regarded, highly sought and, consequently, both have depressingly long wait lists of students who were not selected in the lotteries.

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