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An article in last Sunday's Post-Gazette described several Mastery Charter Schools and how they are on a path to success ("Phila. School Initiative Looked at as Model," June 10). One example was the Harrity Elementary School, which was one of the lowest-performing schools and one of the most violent. The students wear uniforms and are informed that there are non-negotiable, high academic and behavior expectations.
At first the school had a zero-tolerance for violence, which was later changed to alternative programs or in-school suspensions for those still exhibiting violence. The school building is now quiet and orderly. Violence is down, test scores are up and student turnover is down. Their motto is "Excellence. No Excuses."
I have seen programs on television also illustrating successful schools in the inner city. Most of the characteristics are similar to those in the successful Philadelphia schools. Students wear uniforms. Parents and students sign a pledge to complete homework. Some schools have longer school days and some have a longer school year or both. And disruptive behavior is not tolerated.
If only public schools had the same degree of support.
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am