Maryland tries charters

Maryland, which has only one charter school for the whole state, is about to approve a number of new schools, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The goal is to duplicate schools like Amistad Academy, a middle-school in New Haven, Conn. that turns low-income black and Hispanic students into achievers. The Sun reports:

Don’t do your homework and you’ll be staying for three extra hours on Friday afternoon. Lose control and shout out an obscenity in front of classmates, you’ll stand before the whole school to apologize. Put your head down on the desk or forget to follow the teacher with your eyes, the whole lesson will stop while the class waits for you to start paying attention.

With its near obsession with getting the small details right and enforcing consequences for poor behavior, Amistad has found a formula to mold its undisciplined and low-achieving fifth-grade students into eighth-graders who study hard and beat the odds.

Amistad, one of Connecticut’s charter schools, set out to prove that poor, minority children can succeed as well as white middle-class students if only they are given the right education.

So their children get much of what a student at a good suburban public school would learn and be exposed to at school and at home. They go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with most of the afternoon spent on their choice of music, art, dance or sports.

. . . Six years after it opened, Amistad’s 97 percent black and Latino population is posting test scores better than those in New Haven and the state of Connecticut on statewide eighth-grade tests. Last year, 86 percent of its eighth-graders passed the writing test, above the statewide average of 62 percent and better than the public schools of wealthy Greenwich.

In most cases, those same students – 84 percent of whom are poor enough to qualify for a free or reduced lunch – were reading and doing math about two years below grade level when they started at Amistad in fifth grade.

The charter school raises an extra $3,000 per student to supplement the $7,200 that comes from the state.

About Joanne


  1. I wonder what the failure rate is for Amistad?