Saturday, May 30, 2009


From 'The Week', May 22nd
Best columns: The U.S.

Erasing the black-white gap in school
David Brooks

The New York Times

Most anti-poverty initiatives produce “great programs but disappointing results,” said David Brooks. But not the wildly successful Harlem Children’s Zone charter-school system. The typical student enters its middle school, Promise Academy, scoring in the 39th math and verbal percentiles among New York City students. Two years later, that student is in the 74th math percentile and the 53rd verbal. That’s right: In just two years of high-quality schooling, the Promise Academy “eliminated the black-white achievement gap”—a feat many traditional educators have said is impossible. Harlem Children’s Zone succeeds because it creates a “disciplined, orderly, and demanding counterculture” to the chaos many inner-city kids face at home, with “a ferocious commitment to traditional, middle-class values.” Students spend 50 percent more time in school than is required in public schools, and are taught how to treat adults with respect. As for teachers, they are judged on performance, and more than half are weeded out. So the proof is in: Charter schools can work. Which will be the next city to emulate the Children’s Zone example? “Omaha? Chicago? Yours?”

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'Harlem Children's Zone'

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