Charters are getting the job done and the teachers unions are running scared. It is hard to argue with Moskovitz's results with a population that everyone tends to write off."Harlem now has more school choice per square foot than any other place in the country," says Eva Moskowitz, who operates four charters in Harlem. Nationwide, the average black 12th grader reads at the level of a white eighth grader. Yet Harlem charter students at schools like KIPP and Democracy Prep are outperforming their white peers in wealthy suburbs. At the Promise Academy charter schools, 97% of third graders scored at or above grade level in math. At Harlem Village Academy, 100% of eighth graders aced the state science exam. Every third grader at Harlem Success Academy 1, operated by Ms. Moskowitz, passed the state math exam, and 71% of them achieved the top score.
When Seth Andrew, a founder of Democracy Prep, set up his charter middle school in 2006, it occupied the same building as a traditional public middle school that opened the same year. "We both opened with sixth grade and about 100 kids, though we had more special-ed children and English language learners," he says. "After two years in the same building with the same kids on the same floor, this school was the lowest-performing school in Harlem, and we were the highest-performing school in Harlem."
And Harlem parents are responding. They're breaking all the stereotypes that low-income, minority parents won't take the time and effort to research which schools would be the best fit for their children. They care and they'll come out in a snow storm to find out about better choices for their children. And their choices are not the regular public schools.
Of course, Randi Weingarten and her crowd will say "oh the charters only pick the cream of the crop," but that is not how it works. Each open space often has dozens of applicants for that spot. If the schools were that bad, how do you explain that.