Democracy Prep Would Like to Bring Award-Winning Education Model to DC

Students at Democracy Prep's Harlem Prep Elementary on the first day oHarlem, New York based Democracy Prep Public Schools would like to bring its award-winning education model to DC in the 2014-15 school year.  If approved by the Board, Democracy Prep seeks to serve PK3 to Kindergarten. 

Democracy Prep opened its first school in 2006, and today serves more than 2,300 students on nine campuses in New York and New Jersey.  They plan to use their rigorous educational approach to enhance the educations of DC students. At full expansion, Democracy Prep DC Charter School, plans to add a grade a year until they serve PK to 4th grade. 

Democracy Prep points to three “unique elements” underlying their success:

  • Democracy Prep does not shy away from challenges. Their New York schools are open-enrolled and welcoming to students at risk of academic failure.
  • The school strongly emphasizes citizenship education
  • All efforts are made to minimize unsustainable overreliance on private philanthropy

Despite serving high numbers of special needs learners and students from low income households Democracy Prep schools are consistently high ranked by the New York City Department of Education’s Chancellor’s Progress Report (CPR). The founders also point to their work to turnaround Harlem Day, a failing charter school in 2011, an "in less than a year, "transformed the school from the bottom 3rd percentile of elementary schools [in New York] to the top 96th percentile citywide."

This success has attracted accolades and attention from politicians, education policy advocates and even Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary who was awarded an honorary degree by school founder Seth Andrew at Democracy Prep Charter High School’s first graduation this past June at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.

PCSB will use a new Experienced Operator Guidelines Scoring Guide that includes scoring criteria for academic and financial questions, as well as for how the school plans to garner community partnerships and support to rate the Experienced Operator.

The Board will hold a public hearing on October 16. The application decisions will be announced at the November 18 Board meeting.

To read their entire application, click here. The Board is accepting public comment on the applications through October 21. 

UPDATE:  The Board approved Democracy Prep on November 18.  They will open in the 2014-15 school year with grades PK3 - K.   

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