In 2001, the year Michael Bloomberg took control of New York City's Public Schools, P.S. 241 had millions of dollars in private donations, a waiting list and enrollment of 900 students. Today, P.S. 241 has an enrollment of only 100 students and is struggling to survive.... American Classroom: Portraits from a Public School in Harlem by Darren Marelli and Mollie Bruhn
American Classroom is a must-read chronicle for anyone wishing to understand how the current status quo free-market education reform policies of charter co-locations, school choice and competition, and accountability have systematically undermined urban public education in America including Harlem’s once proud P.S. 241,The Family Academy. Marelli and Bruhn’s moving story amplifies the voices of P.S. 241’s dedicated teachers and staff as they do their best to serve the City’s most vulnerable students despite grinding poverty, know-nothing bureaucrats and strangled resources."
—Noah E. Gotbaum, member, former President of Harlem’s Community Education Council District 3Darren and Mollie are the kind of people that make it so worthwhile for me to stay active. I met them early in the life of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) when we began to take on the charter school issue. Darren was at a school invaded by the Eva Moskowitz Success Academy monster and they both got involved. Not too much later Julie Cavanagh came to GEM and a year later when we decided to do a film responding to Waiting for Superman, we had the basics of our amazing team, later joined by Brian Jones (Green Party candidate for NY State Lt. Gov) and Lisa Donlan, parent activist supreme on the lower east side. So we are all so proud of this tribute to PS 241 and the people who worked so hard but have been undermined by Bloomberg's deforms.
My name is Darren Marelli and I've been a social worker with the NYC-DOE for the past 14 years. I am writing today to share a book that I am self-publishing with my wife, Mollie Bruhn, who is a Kindergarten teacher in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Mollie and I worked together (with many other talented folks!) on the film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.
Our new book is titled, American Classroom: Portraits from a Public School in Harlem. In the spring of 2009, I photographed and interviewed the teachers at my school in Harlem. Months before, the New York City Department of Education had announced plans to close my school—P.S. 241, The Family Academy—claiming that the school and its teachers had failed.
I had worked side-by-side with the teachers at P.S. 241 since 1999 and what I saw was far from failure. Every day I witnessed dedicated, courageous teachers working hard to serve a high-needs student body, while necessary support and resources dwindled away. I felt compelled to honor the people who chose this important work.
American Classroom tells the 13-year story of what happened to the P.S. 241 school community and includes 54 portraits and quotes from staff members during the year that the DOE attempted to close the school.
In 2001, the year Michael Bloomberg took control of New York City's Public Schools, P.S. 241 had millions of dollars in private donations, a waiting list and enrollment of 900 students. Today, P.S. 241 has an enrollment of only 100 students and is struggling to survive. The reasons for these changes are complex and troubling. I believe that the portraits of the Family Academy teachers and the story of our school are important to share. It is our hope that American Classroom will encourage readers to think critically and carefully about the current trends in education reform that impact our teachers, students and communities.
American Classroom's promotion is attached to this email. You can see a preview and order a hard copy or PDF of American Classroom here: http://blur.by/1levJ9v. The Ebook can be found here: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/472692-american-classroom.
I hope that you enjoy our book and find it to be a useful example of what education "reform" really looks like in our public schools and local communities.
Please share our story!
Darren Marelli and Mollie Bruhn