Charter fight heats up over Kennedy HS

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The details of the two New Visions charters proposed to open in the place of John F. Kennedy High School are becoming clearer and some community leaders have expressed concern that students who might have attended Kennedy will be left without a local school. 

The DOE has proposed The New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities and The New Visions Charter High School for Math and Science to begin taking ninth graders in September as JFK begins phasing out. 

Julia Chun, the proposed principal of the Charter High School for Math and Science, said the schools will enroll 125 students per grade and 25 students per class. They will have a longer day than public schools, running from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In ninth and 10th grades, students will focus on core studies and specialize junior and senior year. Ms. Chun said she is currently developing the curriculum for ninth grade. The principal for The New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities has not yet been chosen, she said, but both schools are expected to follow similar curriculums. 

As an example of the school’s teaching style, Ms. Chun said students would be asked a “juicy open-ended question” such as “Should humans pursue perfection?” and through  research and interviews come up with a presentation they would be asked to publicly defend. Math students could be given a scenario whereby they lost money because the Gulf oil spill negatively impacted business and asked to tally up the losses and give a convincing presentation to the government about why they should be compensated. 

Ms. Chun said these types of questions encourage students to learn across a variety of disciplines and make their studies seem more applicable to everyday life. 

But Ms. Chun’s Feb. 16 presentation  — one of two recent meetings — struck a chord with Councilman Oliver Koppell, who stood up and questioned if the schools fit the students in the community. 

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