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I heard this inspiring story on NPR recently and highly recommend it. Highlights a charter school in DC that has done amazing things with (poor)kids by approaching teaching differently. They showed that in one of the worst school districts in America, you can take the same kids failing in public schools and teach them to a 100% college acceptance rate. Amazing.

One thing they did, set high expectation:
Salvador isn’t the only one to fail her advanced placement tests. When the Northwest D.C. high school opened four years ago, every ninth grader sat for the tests — and every ninth grader failed...
The sense of self-confidence they came out with by saying — 'I'm a ninth-grader and I just took an AP exam and it was really hard but I got some of it right' — was actually what we were shooting for," Niles says.
They want to challenge their students, but not make things so hard that they discourage them. It's a learning experience for teachers as much as it is for their students
one thing that we're not willing to negotiate on is the mission of college readiness
"I firmly believe that you don't know what you can handle until you experience it," she says.
Creating a high school posed big challenges. E.L. Haynes went from a class of 50 eighth-graders to 121 ninth-graders. Those new students came from all over the city — and nearly 40 of them quickly transferred out. This school can be tough for students who haven't grown up with the rigorous E.L. Haynes philosophy
Stowes grew up in Ward 7. She had been attending a school in southeast before coming to E.L. Haynes. It was a big shock.

"I was so used to teachers not caring, and doing what I want, and watching fights every day," she says. "Southeast D.C. public school system — it was tough before I came to E.L. Haynes. And then when I got here, the teachers were, like, happy! And I was like, 'Teachers happy? I've never seen this before!'"

At E.L. Haynes, she says, "I learned that I was actually smart. Because at public schools, you know, I didn't really know.'"
Stowes was accepted to nine colleges, received $150,000 in scholarships
The college acceptance rate among E.L. Haynes graduates is 100 percent. But not everyone has graduated — yet. Of the 78 students in the class of 2015, 25 aren't graduating.

That's OK with Principal Hill, who preaches a "competency-based" model of education that cares more about mastery of a subject and less about how long that mastery takes. "We want to make sure that learning is the constant and time is the variable, and giving every kid what they need to achieve that mission," she says

This is the kind of story that gives me hope. It takes hard work to make it happen, but it is worth it. The problem is, politicians are unwilling to force good change because as we found in DC a few years ago, the unions will spend millions to boot you out of office to protect their jobs at any cost. And it is always at the cost of the students. Before 2008, there were many charter schools in DC and the kids and parents loved them. Then someone cut off all the vouchers as a sop to the unions and the kids where thrown back into the abjectly incompetent public school system. Shame.
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