Harlem Prep Demonstrates Potential of Charter School Reforms

Harlem Prep Charter School is being hailed an example of the potential charter school reforms have for the lowest performing public schools in America. In early 2011 Harlem Day was the lowest performing school in Harlem, but in March, 2011 the SUNY Charter Schools Institute granted Democracy Prep Public Schools the state’s first ‘restructured renewal’ of a public charter school. Recently released New York State ELA and Math Exam results show that Harlem Prep students have increased overall proficiency scores in ELA by 34% and 28% in Math in less than a year. Harlem Prep has beaten the district and New York City as a whole at every grade level tested and in every subject.

Linda Easton, a former Trustee at Harlem Day, was elated to learn the results. “I’m just so thrilled for the children,” she said with a tear. “These are the same students who were at the bottom of Harlem only a year ago. When Harlem Prep opened, they were told how hard they needed to work, and they did. Look at them now! They performed better than I could have possibly imagined.”

The first things DPPS did were to change the name from Harlem Day to Harlem Prep, guarantee a seat to every Harlem Day student who wished to attend the restructured school and, most importantly, to require every staff member to reapply for their position.

“The breathtaking turnaround at Harlem Prep is a testament to great leadership by Principal Lindsay Malanga and Executive Director Katie Duffy,” said Democracy Prep Public Schools Founder and Superintendent, Seth Andrew. “Turnaround is about getting great people on the bus, and Lindsay and Katie knocked the cover off the ball!”

Despite the astounding progress, Harlem Prep principal Lindsay Malanga notes that the process has just begun and they are planning to do much for the community they serve:

“We will serve East Harlem for a long time to come, and Harlem Prep must continue to improve. Next year, we’re opening a new Harlem Prep Middle School and we still have lots of work to do. Our scholars deserve nothing less!”

Democracy Prep Public Schools is a growing network of seven non-profit public charter schools delivering K-12 education for over 2,000 citizen-scholars; in 2010 Democracy Prep Charter Middle School was named the number one middle school in the entire City of New York. They intend Harlem Prep to be the first of many turnaround public charter schools that share the same goal of ensuring scholars ‘Work Hard, Go to College, and Change the World.’

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