Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another School Choice Success Story

David Brooks writes on a Charter school success story, a "Harlem Miracle":

... a rigorous assessment of the charter schools operated by the Harlem Children’s Zone ... found that the Harlem Children’s Zone schools produced “enormous” gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile. The typical student entered the school scoring in the 39th percentile in English Language Arts (verbal ability). By eighth grade, the typical student was in the 53rd percentile. ... That’s off the charts. In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students.
How did they achieve that? "Basically, the no excuses schools pay meticulous attention to behavior and attitudes. They teach students how to look at the person who is talking, how to shake hands. These schools are academically rigorous and college-focused." More time in school. And "They also smash the normal bureaucratic strictures that bind leaders in regular schools."

Brooks calls it "Harlem Miracle", but the Charter School is based on common-sense pedagogic practice known for millenia. Not a miracle, but a consequence of doing the un-politically-correct thing of having high, rigorous standards, and attention to discipline and behavior. The tragedy is that we not only have a public school system that fails to apply these practices, but we have an educratic system that strongly opposes common-sense school choice options that work.

Opposition to school choice is destroying the lives of many schoolchildren, by denying them the opportunity for a better education.

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