Manhattan Charter School II
Share this school
French and music lessons
Asphalt play yard; poor attendance
Manhattan Charter School II offers French lessons several times a week, and music every day from kindergarten through 5th grade. Children attend the Metropolitan Opera, see at least one Broadway show and visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Singing and rhythm is emphasized in the early grades, but by 4th grade students might join the school’s Louisiana-style brass band featuring trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, trombone and drums.
Founded in 2012, Manhattan Charter School II is modeled on the school of the same name on nearby Attorney Street on the Lower East Side.
The tone in classrooms is serious and calm. The school day is long. Teachers use patient voices. During our visit, at two long rows of desks during reading time, some kindergartners studied letter sounds, others built sentences using sight words, and still others read small books.
Teachers adhere closely to a structured phonics program and this appears to have yielded results: reading test scores, both for children in general education and those with special needs, are above the citywide average. Teachers use Jump Math, a program that aims to build confidence in kids by starting each lesson with skills they know well before adding layers of difficulty. Math lessons last for 90 minutes three days a week.
On school surveys, some parents report that they’re not invited into their child’s classroom, but most parents say they’re satisfied with the school. Some children miss at least a month of school.
Most students live in public housing developments walking distance from the school, but some travel from Brooklyn and Harlem.
Built in 1968, the building features a full-size cafeteria and gymnasium, plus music rooms and modern science labs. Children take gym twice a week and go outside for recess once a day or play in the gym if the weather is bad. Staffers make do with a paved asphalt surface by having children rotate through teacher-led activities such as relay races and ball games.
Admissions: By lottery. Preference to siblings of students at Manhattan Charter Schools (I and II), students who speak a language other than English at home, and residents of District 1. Some seats open in grades 1, 2 and 3. New students are not accepted in grades 4 and 5. (Lydie Raschka, May 2019)