Harmony Public Schools Applies to Bring STEM Education Model to the District
Harmony Public School students participate in town hall with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
On October 16, Harmony Public Schools, a Texas based experienced operator, will present its proposal to open Harmony School of Excellence – DC to the PCSB board.
Since opening its doors in 2000 with a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focused curriculum, Harmony has grown to serve more than 25,000 students on 40 campuses throughout Texas and is seeking to replicate their model here in the District. The proposed school would open in the 2014-15 school year and would start with grades K-5th and eventually serve 624 students in grades K-12th.
Harmony school officials report a zero percent dropout rate and 100% college acceptance rate across its Texas schools. This remarkable performance is attributed to …“three core principles within the school model: a challenging STEM curriculum supported by theory; a focus on assessment; and a culture of constructive competition, discipline and parental engagement” the founding group writes in their application.
The STEM curriculum is integrated at all learning levels and grows from a belief, “that excelling in math and science prepares youth to succeed in college, the workplace and the 21st century,” Harmony continues. Its schools have become particularly well-known for encouraging students to conduct scientific experiments and enter science fairs with much success at local, state, and national competitions. Students may also participate in STEM after school clubs in addition to other activities such as debate, theater, journalism, robotics and photography.
PCSB will use a new Experienced Operator Guidelines Scoring Guide to review their application 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, during which the applicants will present their proposals. The application decision will be announced at the November 18 Board meeting.
UPDATE: The Board approved Harmony School DC on November 18.