East New York

New book pays homage to charter school movement’s Brooklyn roots

Brooklyn BookBeat

September 15, 2014 By Samantha Samel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Award-winning journalist Mary C. Bounds has recently published “A Light Shines in Harlem.” The book explores the charter school movement and its Brooklyn origins.

“A Light Shines in Harlem” (Lawrence Hill Books), by award-winning journalist Mary C. Bounds, explores the charter school movement and its formative years in New York in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The state’s first such schools, which came into existence in 1999 in Manhattan, were actually based upon an after-school program in the East New York section of Brooklyn.  

Bounds tells the story of financier Steven Klinsky, who wanted to honor his older brother, who had succumbed to a rare congenital disease at the age of 29, in a way that furthered the family’s intense interest in education. In 1993, Steve Klinsky teamed up with Brooklyn Community Services to start the Gary Klinsky Children’s Center at P.S. 149 in East New York, which provided local students with an extra three hours of fun, “clubhouse”-style academic study at the end of each school day.  

The program rapidly expanded to other public schools around Brooklyn, and has now served thousands of students over the past twenty years. When the New York charter school law was passed around 1999, Klinsky saw it as a way to extend the benefits of the Brooklyn after school model into the full school day. He was instrumental in the creation of the Sisulu-Walker School in Harlem, one of the three original charter schools in New York and the only one that has survived.  While the book focuses on the early years of the Harlem school, it pays homage to the Brooklyn roots of the movement.

 

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