You’ve heard it before, college isn’t for everyone. It’s true, and also true that many have succeeded without it. But having the option, graduating high school with the reading, writing, and math skills needed to compete, is everyone’s due. We’ve highlighted six African-American schools that not only believe this, but have the distinction of getting 100 percent of their graduating seniors accepted to college. Their approaches vary widely, with one grounding their instruction in African traditions, while another focuses on western principles of law. However, in all instances they are affirming daily that schools can create a culture of success that can work for all students.
2009 was the turning point for Mastery Charter Schools. After eight years of revamping failing schools with the motto, “Excellence. No excuses,” they joined the 100-percenters. Spread over four campuses in some of Philadelphia’s most impoverished neighborhoods, the milestone provided the ultimate evidence that their turnaround model, which included new faculty, tutoring, Saturday instruction and internships, worked.
It’ll be some time, however before their network reaches that milestone again. Not because they’re team isn’t working hard, but because they’re growing. Presently operating seven schools, Mastery has plans to add 15 over the next five years. It takes time to overcome students’ poor preparation; the administration’s goal for new schools is proficiency in reading, writing and math for 85% of the student body within four years. It’s a vision endorsed by the most powerful black man and woman on the planet: Obama shouted them out in a talk last July and in September Oprah’s Angel Network wrote them a million dollar check.