Newsletter #170: Haunted Dream House

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for reading The Highlighter every week and for making this community a strong one. I wish you all a wonderful start of your holiday season. (It’s that time.)

This week’s issue is a quick one, with just one article and one documentary. If you’re attending festivities with friends or family, eschew politics and discuss haunted houses instead. (Seriously, today’s lead article is a big winner.) If you’re staying at home, curl up with some cider and watch three brilliant kids from Brooklyn get into college. Also be sure to check out this week’s Reader Annotations. They’re getting robust!

Also, Highlighter Happy Hour is back and coming soon! We’ll gather at Room 389 in Oakland on Thursday, Dec. 6, beginning at 5:30 pm. HHH is a great way to meet fellow loyal readers and to chat about the articles. Get your free ticket now!

New Subscriber Contest Update: This week was quiet, likely out of keen strategy, the calm before the subscribing storm. Contestants, bring your A Game here in the last week, and we’ll see who wins the grand prize! Please urge your friends and family to subscribe. I really appreciate your help getting the word out.

The Haunting of a Dream House

When you buy your dream home, be sure it isn’t haunted. Unfortunately, Derek and Maria Broaddus, who fell in love with the house on 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey, did not heed that advice. Soon after the Broadduses moved in with their three children, they began receiving creepy letters from “The Watcher,” who did not appreciate the new owners. Here’s a sample: “Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone? I would be very afraid if I were them. It is far away from the rest of the house. If you were upstairs, you would never hear them scream.” This article, one of my favorites this year, is part horror, part detective mystery, and part ethnography of an affluent suburban town, when neighbors turn on each other. (41 min)

Who is The Watcher? Please let me know! Fun fact: Two loyal readers are from Westfield — maybe they have the inside scoop?

Personal Statement

Applying to college is no joke — especially when you’re first in your family to go to college and when your school doesn’t have any guidance counselors. In this touching documentary, follow Christine, Enoch, and Karoline, three high school seniors from Brooklyn who become youth leaders to guide their peers through the college application process. At the same time, they’re trying to make it through themselves. (No need to be an educator or parent to appreciate this film!) (57 min)

+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Marla shared her strong disagreement with “Another Dream Deferred” in this thoughtful response. Thank you for adding to the conversation, Marla, and I appreciate your readership.

Last week’s article on Black teachers leaving the profession led loyal reader Jamie, who knows a thing or two about education, to write in with this sentiment:

This story is iconic of urban education — the story of how well-intentioned and short-sighted ‘fixes’ create ever more crushing pressures on teachers such that it becomes less and less likely that we can effect lasting systemic change.

Loyal reader Nicki (owner of Nugget and Papas) loved last week’s podcast episode on the controversial Success Academy. She pointed out that although some educators may decry the charter’s methods, its results are beyond reproach:

While I disagree with some of the methods of Success Academy, I cannot argue against its success and its impact on students. Success Academy demonstrates significant results in terms of student achievement: their African American and Latinx students perform just as well or even better than their white student counterparts. This is no small feat. Their success in academics means far more for their lives and for their families because they can go to college, obtain a degree, and change their families’ outcomes for generations to come. The impact goes beyond each individual student; it changes a family’s trajectory. Parents want this for their children and their families. Families are exercising their choice in school selection, and there is a need for quality schools in the communities that the schools are in. If parents are choosing Success Academy regardless of its methods, does it really matter then if Success Academy is seen as a hero or a villain?

Last but not least, Subscriber #1 Ben ate a Honeycrisp apple after reading this article and had this to say: “Too sweet for me!”

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Thank you for reading this Thanksgiving issue of The Highlighter! Use the thumbs below to tell me what you thought.

Also, let’s welcome this week’s new subscriber Krzysztof. If you value The Highlighter, please:

I really appreciate your support. On the other hand, if it’s a pain to click on this email every week, please unsubscribe. I’ll see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am. Have a great week!