Inner-city charter school sends all graduates to college

All of the members of a school’s graduating class have been accepted to four-year colleges.

What school is this? An expensive, elite, country-club private school in an exclusive suburb? No. It’s Urban Prep Charter School, in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods–a school where 4 percent of the members of the  graduating class read at grade level in their freshman year.

Amanda Paulson wrote a story about this school for the Christian Science Monitor, seeking to offer some clues to the schools success.

One clue is in the name of the school: Urban Prep is a charter school. Not all charter schools are excellent–some should be shut down, in keeping with the concept of charter schools–but the charter status grants some advantages.

Urban Prep students spend more time in school, though seat time alone isn’t enough. Paulson says that many more elements of the school’s success “seem embedded in a culture based on … ritual, respect, responsibility, and relationships.”

  • Ritual: Students–all men–must wear ties and jackets.
  • Respect: Students are called by their last names.
  • Responsibility: Students have public service requirements.
  • Relationships: Teachers are accessible to students by phone on evening and weekends.

There’s a key structural element, too: “It operates outside union rules.”

There are some questions of whether Urban Prep’s success can be replicated on a large scale–it requires a lot of teachers, for one thing–but it’s worthy of commendation. Can we see a thousand Urban Preps blossom?

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