New York’s charter schools are sending hundreds of kids to college

All 98 seniors at Success Academy’s HS of the Liberal Arts are headed to college this fall, including to the University of Chicago, Yale, Cornell, Dartmouth, Tufts, Wharton and Georgetown.

Other top local charter networks will add hundreds more to that exciting total — a tremendous sign of how these alternative public schools boost opportunity, especially for the lower-income, black and Hispanic students who are so often served badly by the regular system.

More than 95 percent of the 200-plus graduates a year from KIPP NYC College Prep in The Bronx, for example, also head to college — including Columbia-Barnard, Duke and other top-ranked universities. And the four high-schools in the Brooklyn-centered Uncommon Schools network have similar success.

“Charters have more flexibility to think about the system as K-16 for their kids, while district schools are more rigidly caught in an outmoded K-12 dynamic where higher education is separate and apart,” notes James Merriman of the NYC Charter Center.

Just as important, charters actually put education first — even as many regular public schools throw up their hands when challenged, because their true top priority is serving the needs of the adult staff and administrators. Notably, Chancellor Richard Carranza’s system has basically given up on enforcing standards in the face of the coronavirus crisis: Meaningful graduation requirements, and normal grades for K-8 kids, are out the window.

Heck, Carranza’s schools can’t even manage to make teachers communicate with students on a daily basis: The United Federation of Teachers won’t allow it, because rules for remote learning aren’t spelled out in the union contract.

Success and other charters, meanwhile, are not only making remote learning work — they’re still grading normally and generally upholding standards despite the challenges of the pandemic.

KIPP, Uncommon and other high-performance charters like Ascend have yet to compile and release final numbers for their graduating seniors this year. But the 98 Success grads between them have earned $26 million in college scholarships and financial aid — after the class achieved an average SAT score of 1268, almost 200 points above the national average.

And future Success senior classes will be larger: The network’s been growing rapidly for over a decade — though that growth rate has slowed thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s hostility, which has forced Success to open fewer new elementary schools than it wanted to start more city children on a real path to higher ed.

From the start of kindergarten and now pre-K, Success works to prepare children for college — making sure they learn enough in lower grades to progress to the right subjects in middle school so they can do genuine college-prep work in high school.

Without the charter-school law that then-Gov. George Pataki rammed through in 1998 — and the work of hundreds of charter-school teachers and staff in the decades since — tens of thousands of city children would lack the opportunities that Success and its fellow charters provide.

It’s disgraceful that de Blasio and so many other local politicians still seek to limit such opportunity, and even deny it altogether.

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