Democracy Prep Endurance Charter Middle School
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Korean music and dance, lots of trips
Strict rules and a high suspension rate
Democracy Prep Endurance is named after Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackletons ship, the Endurance. Founded in 2012, it has become one of the highest performing schools in the Democracy Prep network, which runs more than a dozen schools in the city. Endurance enjoys strong leadership, orderly classrooms and happy teachers, according to school surveys, but the suspension rate is high. Democracy Prep schools combine strict discipline and a long school day with trips, civic engagement and exposure to Korean music and dance. (High school students take four years of Korean language.)
Democracy Preps founder, Seth Andrews, wanted to give his mostly African-American and Latino students Korean educational values: respect for teachers, education and hard work. Kids in middle school become familiar with Korean music and dance. At the end of each school year, the network hosts a Korean Street Festival in Harlem, with bibimbap (Koreas national dish of rice and vegetables), Korean games and traditional Korean dance.
Children get involved in the community. They run a campaign to help register New Yorkers to vote, lobby elected officials and debate pros and cons of charter schools. Parents are expected to register to vote and must agree to attend at least one civic event per year, according to the school handbook.
The day runs from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm (4:45 for kids who stay for tutoring, enrichment or detention). Children are tested and prepped for tests often and test scores are above average.
Endurance has a culture of strict disciplinesilent hallways, tracking the speaker and sitting up straightwith consequences for tardiness, missing uniforms and other infractions. Students earn fake dollars for good behavior and academic effort to earn special privileges such as college trips. The suspension rate was more than 30 percent, far above the statewide average, in 2014-2015, when data was most recently available. While most students think discipline is fair, 27 percent do not, according to school surveys.
The school year begins with an orientation week in late August. Most graduates go to Democracy Prep Endurance High School located at 240 East 123rd Street. The school added a kindergarten and 11th grade in fall 2017 and will expand year-by-year until it serves kindergarten through 12th grade.
Middle school children visit colleges in Washington D.C., Boston and Montreal. Tenth graders participate in service trips, such as one to Ecuador in the 2016-17 school year.
SPECIAL EDUCATION: One-fifth of the children have special needs and they perform above average on tests.
ADMISSIONS: By lottery. Preference is given to children in District 5. (Lydie Raschka, school data, 2017)Read more