Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition
Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan
Chapter 9. Enter the Alternative School: The Life of Central Park East Secondary School
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ENTER THE ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL
The Life of Central Park East Secondary School
Alia R. Tyner-Mullings
On August 17th, 2013, a member of the third graduating class of Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS) orchestrated a reunion.1 The class of 1993 was celebrating their 20th reunion, yet the organizer invited students from the first five classes. Though CPESS no longer exists, the message of inclusiveness and community that the progressive school had inculcated in its students still remains. In its time, the school represented an alternative to traditional educational models and its legacy lives on in many of the innovative schools that followed in its path.
Origins of the School
During the first half of the twentieth century, the migration of blacks from the South and the immigration of Puerto Ricans exponentially expanded the minority population in New York City.2 The children of these families generally found themselves in segregated schools with inexperienced teachers and out-of-date materials. While the famous 1954 court case Brown v. Board of Education led to the end of de jure segregation in schools, it did not guarantee that students would attend integrated institutions. The next thirty years in ← 275 | 276 → New York City were rife with dissent and protest about education, desegregation, and community control.
One proposed policy to promote school desegregation in the city was to create junior high schools, dividing education into schools of four years...
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