“It’s like a gang” : A Teacher Speaks out on Uncommon Schools

I had this conversation with a friend who taught at an Uncommon School for two years and “graduated” from Relay.

Here’s some of what she said.

I don’t tell people I went to Relay because it’s embarrassing. It’s just brainwashing. Which is why I’m applying to real grad school next year. I can’t remember anything I learned there. 

It’s like a gang. You’re initiated in and its hard to get out. Uncommon is like a prison. The Kindergarten orientation is an indoctrination, with no warmth, it’s all mechanical. It’s like you’re breaking them, the way you’d break a horse. 

And if you’re there long enough you get rewarded for being hardcore mechanical and having little robots who speak a certain way, walk a certain way. And I hated the color system (Students get assigned a color based on their behavior each day) seeing kids crying at the end of the day because of their color. You can’t reduce a kid to a color.

I was very disturbed when I started there. I was very depressed for the two years I worked there. I think for me, because I’m from here and I grew up in the neighborhood, I always thought I could be one of these kids. So it didn’t sit well with me. 

I don’t want New York to become New Orleans. There are no public schools in New Orleans. 

 

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