Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
search  
 
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      
 
 
   
 
     
 

New York Daily News

 

Graduation Puts Charter School On Map

July 13, 2005

By Nicole Gelinas

Harlem's pioneering Class of '05 shows experiment can work

Gotham's first generation of charter school kids is on its way to middle school. Seventy-three kids who entered one of the city's first charter schools, Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, as kindergartners in 1999 left as newly minted fifth-grade graduates last month. The kids have done quite well, as Principal Norma Figueroa-Hurwitz reminded cheering parents, grandparents, siblings and friends during the graduation ceremony.

A full 90% could read at or above grade level. Only 69% of the fifth-graders who attended the regular public schools citywide did as well. In math, 77% of Sisulu-Walker's kids scored well, compared with 54% of regular public-school kids.

Sisulu chose its kindergartners through a lottery. Nearly 90% of the kids are poor; many would have attended failing local schools. Why did they outperform their neighbors? Just listen to their 'cheers. Their teachers got standing ovations, but the fifth-graders also expressed gratitude to their principal and the education entrepreneurs who took a chance on them. Sisulu's teachers and principal are accountable to a board of directors, which contracts with Victory Schools Inc. It was started by Steve Klinsky, a veteran of Goldman Sachs (and a City Journal publication committee member), to attract talent that might otherwise have gone into banking or law.

Sisulu, like any city charter school, must live or die by its performance. Some schools have done poorly — the state has already closed the other charter school that opened in 1999. Does this mean New York's first two charter schools already have a 50% failure rate? No. The system worked. The state held a failing school accountable and shut it down. How often does that happen with traditional public schools?

Sisulu's managers, teachers and parents know they must make do with what they've got: They don't waste time agitating about class size, for example, as Gotham's teachers union does. "Smaller classes would be nice, but you do with what you can," said one administrator.

Several students are on their way to New York's best traditional middle schools, where they'll challenge their fellow students — and their teachers — to perform. They'll challenge, too, the Department of Education, which must now ensure their continued success.

 

 
PRINTER FRIENDLY
 
LATEST FROM OUR SCHOLARS

The Real Challenge When Police Use Lethal Force
Stephen Eide, 12-15-14

Why Cops Need To Sweat The Small Stuff
Nicole Gelinas, 12-08-14

A Bill To Loosen Police Discipline
E. J. McMahon, 12-08-14

More Subsidies For Big Wind
Robert Bryce, 12-08-14

Bill Slanders His Cops
Heather Mac Donald, 12-07-14

What The Numbers Say On Police Use Of Force
Steven Malanga, 12-04-14

Detroit's Bankruptcy and Its Painful Reforms
Stephen Eide, 12-04-14

The EPA Pours On The Pain With New Ozone Regulations
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 12-03-14

 
 
 

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2014 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494