A school in New Haven

In City Journal, Ryan Sager profiles Amistad Academy, a high-achieving charter school for low-income minority students in New Haven, Connecticut.

At bottom, the reasons for Amistad’s breathtaking success are pretty simple. For starters, it boasts a rigorous academic program. The Amistad curriculum is highly traditional, based on research-based methods. For reading, it’s phonics, phonics, phonics, supplemented with literature when the kids are ready for it. The school uses the old-fashioned — and proven to work — Saxon Math program to teach arithmetic. And Amistad bases its history, science, and arts instruction on E.D. Hirsch’s content-rich Core Knowledge program. What students need to know at every grade level, moreover, isn’t flexible. Every six weeks the school assesses the kids, with the evaluations then used to figure out which students need help in what subjects. With an extended school day, mandatory summer school, and tutoring before and after school, there’s time for students to catch up.

At the morning circle time, Amistad students “must ask forgiveness from the school community for misbehavior: disrupting class, talking back to teachers, failing to do homework.” They’re also praised by teachers for successes, however small.

This practice of communal praising and shaming—all but unthinkable in regular public schools, with their self-esteem fixation and “child-centered” classrooms—tells students that their actions have meaningful consequences.

KIPP schools also require students who misbehave to apologize to their “team mates,” teachers and parents.

Amistad will be opening two new charter schools in New York City in the fall.

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  1. Omigosh – that sounds like it will work!

  2. Amistad and the NYC Dept of Education are having bureaucratic problems w/Albany and therefore might not be opening those schools here in NYC in the fall.

  3. SuperSub says:

    I have to say public embarassment and shame are effective deterents to poor behavior. Many of the kids with attitude problems have an overblown sense of pride… they like to be in control of all situations, and everyone around them (including teachers). In observing other classes, I have seen students like these completely dictate what the teacher does.
    Strike a blow to that pride, in front of their peers, and it re-establishes the teacher’s control over the entire class.
    This, like any punishment though, can be poorly used, even to the point of harming the student.