South Bronx Classical Charter School
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Students study Latin and learn to debate
Above average suspension rate; strict behavior code may not appeal to some
South Bronx Classical is a high-performing charter school where students study Latin, learn to debate and have multiple math and English lessons each day. Part of a small charter school network, South Bronx Classical has a school day and school year that are longer than in traditional public schools. Class size is small with 20 students or less, even in the upper grades.
The school delivers on its classical theme. Latin instruction begins in 3rd grade; debate classes start in 5th grade. There’s a heavy emphasis on learning facts and honing skills and by middle school, students tackle challenging work and have an impressive command of history. We observed 7th-graders who were parsing a section of "Mein Kampf" and at ease drawing on detailed historical references such as the Treaty of Versailles and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in response to the teacher’s questions.
The tone is orderly and formal. Children wear uniforms and must adhere to a strict behavior code. The upside is that little time is wasted in transitions between lessons; the drawback is that the school has an above-average suspension rate. When listening to the teacher, children are expected to sit up straight with hands folded on the desk; a student may be admonished for behavior such eye-rolling or that’s interpreted to be sulking, whining or talking back. Repeat offenders will face tougher consequences, such as suspension.
Classroom instruction is mostly traditional, with students sitting in rows listening to the teacher deliver a lesson, though we saw some instances of group work. Kindergarten is very academic. In one class we observed the teacher worked with a small group of students, while a few others gathered around an easel to work on sentences and the rest worked independently at computers or read books at their desks, arranged neatly in rows.
The school day runs longer than in traditional public schools and is packed with instruction. For instance, in the elementary grades English is taught across several lessons, with grammar, writing, read aloud, guided reading and close reading (analyzing text for meaning) dispersed throughout the schedule. Students have a traditional skills-focused math lesson and one dedicated to word problems each day. Starting in 6th grade, students are grouped by skill level for math, grammar and textual analysis (similar to close reading).
Art, music and gym are provided in all grades.
Located in the Longwood neighborhood, a couple of blocks from the nearest subway station, South Bronx Classical shares a building with IS 217, School of Performing Arts, Accion Academy and the New York Center for Autism Charter School Bronx.
Students may participate in after-school activities such as sports, yoga, music and art.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: A special education teacher and several learning specialists work with children individually and in small groups.
ADMISSIONS: Admissions is by lottery. Priority is given to District 12 residents. (Laura Zingmond, April 2017; updated via web reports, January 2020)Read more