Building Community in the South Bronx

by James Merriman

Yesterday I was at the ribbon-cutting for a new high school building for Hyde Leadership Charter School, the first new high school building in decades for Hunts Point in the South Bronx.  Kudos to the school, which also got big assists from Civic Builders and Low Income Investment Fund, among others.

While it certainly helps to be making a huge investment in an underresourced community—yet another argument for charter school facility funding —it was still remarkable how the school had wooed and won the support of virtually every local elected official. I mean everyone, from the people who sit on the community board to the assemblyman, council person, state senator, and borough president.

We never want charter schools to be politicized, and we have to remember that student achievement is the ultimate measure of success when it comes to schools.  But Hyde’s diligent work underscores the need for charter schools to come correct when they enter a community, visiting and listening even as they work to create new educational options.

When you’re shaking things up in a community, even for the sake of student achievement, a little respectful outreach goes a long way.

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