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February 06, 2009

Another Great Charter School: Manhattan Charter School

Add Manhattan Charter School to the list of schools worth a visit.  The school is perhaps best known for its 100% pass rate on both the 3rd grade math and ELA exams last year, but, as usual, the most exciting things about the school must be seen in person.  Luckily, like all of the other great schools I have seen, MCS likes to have visitors.

MCS serves grades K through 4 and will be adding a 5th grade next year.  The earlier grades are staffed with two teachers per classroom and the older grades have an assistant teacher half the time.

The school is co-located with a traditional public school and a Head Start program in an unusual circular school building on the Lower East Side.  MCS occupies most of the upper floor and they have done a beautiful job with their space.  The classrooms and hallways are cheerful and peaceful.  The children seem happy and engaged.

MCS is very proud of its music, arts, and language education.  I observed some of the younger children in French class.  The kids get music instruction daily.  The art work around the school is quite impressive.  Overall, MCS seems to provide an unusually well-rounded education.

MCS has created this environment with very little philanthropic support -- they fund themselves almost entirely from the $12,400 per pupil payment they receive from the DOE.  How do they do this?  Amongst other things, they operate with only four non-teaching positions (including the principal).

If you work or live in downtown Manhattan and you can take an hour or two off from work, check this one out.  Stop by Girls Prep as well while you are at it...      


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