Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Harlem Success lottery

I attended the lottery for the Harlem Success charter schools (the 5th school opens this fall) last week and, as in past years, it was packed with thousands of hopeful parents -- the great majority of whom (86.4% to be precise: 3,025 of 3,500) will go home disappointed, forced to send their children to schools where their odds of ever graduating from a four-year college are in the 10% range vs. the 70-80% I'd estimate for Harlem Success students.  What a complete, total, utter disgrace that so many people fight to prevent more schools like these from opening!  Obviously not all charter schools are of Harlem Success's caliber, but the solution to this is to close (or never grant a charter) to bad operators, but there should be unlimited expansion for proven CMOs (charter management organizations) like KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Achievement First and Harlem Success.  You can read more about the day and see a video of Klein speaking (kudos also to NY State Senate President Malcolm Smith) here:

Political, parenting strategies align at Harlem Success lottery

A line of parents that wrapped around the block, blue and orange balloons, and a carefully choreographed program greetged hopeful families and political supporters last night at the admission event for the four Harlem Success Network charter schools. In addition to the main event, the naming of admitted students, the evening featured a barnstorming speech by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein (in the video above), a surprise announcement about charter school funding from State Sen. Malcolm Smith, and political exhortations from Eva Moskowitz, Harlem Success’s lightning rod CEO. 

“I wish we could open them faster and have spots for absolutely everyone,” Moskowitz said about her schools to the thousands of assembled parents. But she said, “There are special interests and even elected officials who don’t support the growth of charter schools.” Moskowitz has sparred for years with the teachers union over her aggressive school reform strategies.

For the thousands of parents in attendance, politics took a distant second to anxiety about whether their children would be among the 475 selected from the 3,500 entered into the lottery.

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