Monday, March 08, 2010

Charter Schools Flourish in Harlem

STOP THE PRESSES!  This is a BRILLIANT editorial in tomorrow’s WSJ, with great quotes and stories from Seth Andrew of Democracy Prep and Eva Moskowitz of Harlem Success (
Today there are 24 Harlem charters. They select students by lottery, and they educate about 7,700 of the community's 50,000 school-age kids. Another 5,700 children matriculate at one of Harlem's 30 private and parochial schools.
"Harlem now has more school choice per square foot than any other place in the country," says Eva Moskowitz, who operates four charters in Harlem. Nationwide, the average black 12th grader reads at the level of a white eighth grader. Yet Harlem charter students at schools like KIPP and Democracy Prep are outperforming their white peers in wealthy suburbs. At the Promise Academy charter schools, 97% of third graders scored at or above grade level in math. At Harlem Village Academy, 100% of eighth graders aced the state science exam. Every third grader at Harlem Success Academy 1, operated by Ms. Moskowitz, passed the state math exam, and 71% of them achieved the top score.
When Seth Andrew, a founder of Democracy Prep, set up his charter middle school in 2006, it occupied the same building as a traditional public middle school that opened the same year. "We both opened with sixth grade and about 100 kids, though we had more special-ed children and English language learners," he says. "After two years in the same building with the same kids on the same floor, this school was the lowest-performing school in Harlem, and we were the highest-performing school in Harlem."
Ms. Moskowitz, a former city council member, says that turnout at the education fair—hundreds of parents and children arrived early and stood outside in the cold before the doors were opened—refute claims that low-income minorities are indifferent to their children's educational needs. "I've never met an apathetic mom of any race or ethnicity," she says. "They all want good schools for their kids. It's a problem of supply, not demand."
Daniel Clark, who attended the fair with his son, Daniel Jr., an eighth grader at Democracy Prep, pulled his child out of a district school two years ago after the boy was attacked by school bullies in the bathroom. Mr. Clark got a call to pick him up at the hospital. 
  • WSJ editorial
  • MARCH 7, 2010, 9:46 P.M. ET

Charter Schools Flourish in Harlem

But teachers unions are still trying to stop their growth.


 Subscribe in a reader