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«Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today

Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition

Series:

Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan

The second edition of «Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today: Progressive Education in the 21 st Century documents a new collection of child-centered progressive schools founded in the first half of the twentieth century and provides histories of some contemporary examples of progressive practices. Part I discusses six progressive schools founded in the first part of the twentieth century (City and Country; Dalton; the Weekday School at Riverside Church; The Laboratory School at the Institute of Child Study; Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School; and Highlander), tracing them from their beginnings. Part II examines four more contemporary schools (Central Park East 1; Central Park East Secondary; Learning Community Charter School; and KIPP TEAM Academy), showing how progressive practices gained momentum from the 1960s onward. As a volume in the History of Schools and Schooling series, this book seeks to look to the past for what it can teach us today.
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Chapter 10. The Learning Community Charter School: The Founding and Evolution of a Progressive Charter School

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· 10 ·

THE LEARNING COMMUNITY CHARTER SCHOOL

The Founding and Evolution of a Progressive Charter School

Elizabeth S. Brown

The Roots of a School

Walking south from Jersey City’s PATH train, Learning Community Charter School’s (LCCS) original location is identifiable by the large clock on top of a former coalbunker. Situated along Canal Street, the former Morris Canal, the coalbunker’s height stands out in contrast to the three-story brownstone houses it towers over. While walking down Grove Street, whose mixed use is apparent by the shops and restaurants below apartment buildings, it is difficult to imagine that just a century ago the coalbunker connected railroad trains to the boats coming down the Morris Canal, that ran through Jersey City.

Today, the neighborhood surrounding the school’s original location includes newly renovated brownstones; a colonial house painted in yellow and white wedged between a nail salon and a falafel restaurant; City Hall; new high-rise buildings; Spanish bodegas; a number of new bars and restaurants attracting wealthy couples and families; a barber shop with a predominantly African American clientele; and a Muslim mosque housed in a former Jewish synagogue. The wide array of establishments along the four-block distance between the PATH train and the school’s founding location highlights the ← 311 | 312 → neighborhood’s rich ethnic, socioeconomic and racial diversity—a diversity that is uncommon to most urban neighborhoods and even less common to an urban public school.

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