Ch. 3 - Equal Opportunity: Preparing Urban Youth for College (HFR '08)

December 2008

By providing access to proven college-prep models (and suburban school performance expectations), charter schools appear to be offering something not otherwise available in many communities. In this chapter, Paul Hill explains this important trend in charter high schools. A number of schools and nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) are offering inner-city, disadvantaged students access to a college-prep education normally seen only in competitive magnet schools and Catholic and suburban public schools. These schools are relentlessly focused and specialized, with demanding intellectual climates and curricula, longer school days, frequent assessments, and an intense school-wide teaching culture that continually reinforces the belief that all students will go on to college and be successful there.

Significant momentum toward further replication of these models in the charter sector is developing, but Hill points out that their existence does not make everyone happy. By no means do these models fit traditional notions held by school boards and administrators, nor union expectations about teacher workloads and pay schedules.