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John Dewey Academy Flourishes
Nov 18, 2008, 15:37

John Dewey Academy
Great Barrington, MA

John Dewey Academy Flourishes

Tom Bratter

November 13, 2008

There is a rumor that The John Dewey Academy fights for its existence. However, we are two thirds filled, so there is bed space. Rather than compromise quality, we have encouraged the last three prospective students to go elsewhere.

The IRS "forced" my wife and me to sell Searles Castle because the IRS arbitrarily rejected the value determined by an appraisal company. Inadvertently, the IRS did us a favor because we have had three bids which double the original appraisal value. Moving will be traumatic, but I am confident all will survive.

There are two ways to evaluate the effectiveness of a college preparatory and therapeutic school: The credentials and stability of the faculty.

First: Most JDA teachers have PhD's. There has been no faculty turnover for three years. Most of the faculty have been with us for more than five years. All faculty, but one, feel they received generous merit-based salary increments of more than five percent. Ken Steiner, who is my designated successor, a veteran of The John Dewey Academy, for almost twenty years waits patiently for me to die. I do not plan to retire unless felled by a stroke.

Second: The reputations of colleges which admit graduates, their performance at college and the graduation rate. All (100%) of our graduates attended college. More than three-quarters attend graduate college.

The 2008 graduate class college campaign was a college professional's dream. All but one was admitted early decision to the college of their first choice. I was done with my recommendations by December 15. Graduates of this class will attend Amherst College, Brandeis University, Columbia, Goucher, Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence (2) Colleges and the University of Chicago. Two were rejected. I protested and appealed so both rejections reversed. I waged war for the regular admit. Last year, two of my recommendations exceeded forty pages. The average length of a recommendation was thirty-three pages.

Prior to attending The John Dewey Academy, most students had mediocre grades and inconsistent academic records. Many functioned more than one grade level below chronological age, so they needed intensive, individualized instruction to remedy educational deficits.

Since the first class graduated in 1987, all graduates have attended college. Similar to elite prep schools, The John Dewey Academy wants to be judged by the reputations of the colleges which admit its graduates. Seventy percent attend the most selective fifty colleges. Ten percent attend the most selective one hundred institutions of higher learning.

A third have made the Dean's List at Barnard, Bates, Binghamton and Brown Universities, Carleton, Colby, Columbia (College and University), Connecticut College, Cornell, George Washington and Georgetown Universities, Haverford, Hobart, Holy Cross, Mount Holyoke and Muhlenberg Colleges NYU (College of Arts and Sciences and Tisch School for the Performing Arts), Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, RPI, Rochester University, Spelman and Skidmore Colleges, Syracuse University (Visual and Performing Arts & Newhouse School of Communications), Trinity College, Tufts University, Union College, the Universities of Chicago, Hartford, & Massachusetts; Vassar, Wellesley,& Williams Colleges.

Two members of the JDA class of 2002 attend Harvard and NYU Law Schools. Two members of the class of 2003 attend Albany and Pace Law Schools. Another 2003 graduate attends the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at Yeshiva University.

All but one of the class of 2006 made the Dean's List. The lowest average was 3.3. Two were elected class officers; the others have assumed prominent leadership roles.

While outrageously premature, I am confident that all but two of our seniors have been admitted by colleges which rank in the top fifty by US News & World Reports. I very much would like to list these impressive colleges but am reluctant to do so only because I do not want to antagonize any Director or Dean of Admissions. All recommendations have been received by Offices of Admission. The average length of my college recommendations are thirty pages.

Debvoise & Plimpton LLP and Wilmer Culter Pickering Hale and Dorr applied for tax exempt status for us to the IRS. These two prestigious law firms did the work pro bono.

I am concerned that fund raising efforts to permit us to become a tax exempt public charity is disappointingly slow. Twenty percent of our families' net worth exceed several hundred million dollars, so they are immune to the precipitous drop of the stock market and anticipated decrease in commercial real estate. It would only take one family to finance our not-for-profit corporation.

My wife and I have pledged to donate The John Dewey Academy and its contents, which I estimate to be worth +/- $5,000.000, when there are matching funds as an incentive to contribute which I remain confident we will receive. Assuming the worst, we have a serious buyer who I believe will preserve the integrity and identity of JDA.

Since 2006, I have published ten articles. Currently, two articles are being peer reviewed prior to being accepted for publication.

Mark Twain is reported to have quipped when reading his obituary "that reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated."

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