The International Charter School’s success will be built on three core beliefs: Diversity, Character and Curriculum.
Our first core belief is diversity. Many New York City neighborhoods are economically and racially segregated. Public elementary schools often reflect this environment. To pick just one example in Brooklyn, the Vinegar Hill/Dumbo census tract has a median household income of $163,000; the next district over, near Navy and York Streets has a household income of $18,700. Children from these two neighborhoods rarely attend school together. This limits their opportunities for development and participation in an integrated, multi-cultural society. Under these circumstances, schools have an urgent responsibility to teach pluralistic values. Besides literacy and math there are crucial, informal lessons about civic purpose and empathy that are much harder to learn in non-diverse schools.
Schools that enroll students from across economic backgrounds also offer concrete academic benefits – they see more of their students succeed. Nearly half the children who attend Department of Defense (DoD) schools are poor. Half are black or Hispanic. But on national tests of 4th and 8th graders, their Hispanic, black and white students outscore their non-DoD counterparts in English and Math. And they do the same on their SATs. For more examples of diverse schools where all children succeed, click here.
ICS’s second core value is strength of character. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that “Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” But, he continued, “…we must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”
Intimately linked to academics at the International Charter School are the virtues we cultivate in our students. As important as they are, knowledge of literature, arts, science and history alone will not lead our students to success in school and life. For how does their knowledge of the three branches of government benefit them, if our graduates cannot listen respectfully to another person’s views, and incorporate them into their own thinking? Their ‘book learning’ must be complemented by personal habits and values. Habits like empathy, curiosity and persistence. Values like courage, honesty and respect.
ICS students will have multiple opportunities for self-expression and development from block-play and dress up in kindergarten to discussing Shakespeare’s characters and their motives in middle school. Yoga classes will teach the values of self-control and inner-calm, while participating in local gardens will not only teach science and math, but also the value of community and collaboration.
Like Dr. King, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have recognized that character strength has as much impact on students’ success as academic knowledge. Instilling and measuring these qualities is important to ICS. We expect our school environment to reflect these strengths, which are essential to develop in our children.
As a former diplomat, Matthew undertands the importance of being able to participate in our increasingly interconnected world. Research shows that knowledge of history, geography, literature, art and science is not only central to students’ success in reading, in school, and in life, but also to scoring well on tests. Background knowledge even affects outcomes in math. Yet, few elementary schools specify the knowledge children need to succeed in further education, or provide a curriculum that delivers it.
To learn more about our curriculum, including math, writing, Spanish, and gym, click here.
Grounded in the knowledge of economic, religious, and geographic forces that have shaped and are transforming our world, our students will be prepared to succeed in the most demanding college preparatory high schools. Whether or not their education leads them to international careers in business or government, our graduates will be able to think critically, write clearly, and advocate effectively for themselves and their communities.
These three core beliefs–a diverse student body, character strength and a global curriculum- will support a world-class public school.