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Newswire: June 11, 2013

Vol. 15, No. 23
Special Graduation Edition

From coast to coast, scores of students who were once at-risk of falling through the cracks are graduating and finding success at charter schools. The pomp and circumstance of graduation ceremonies take on a whole new meaning and mark a major milestone for these students who otherwise would be unsuccessful. As Education Week pointed out last week, the national graduation rate is only 75 percent. That number decreases considerably for African Americans (62 percent) and Hispanics (68 percent), that is, if you actually trust those numbers, which many suspect are inflated by loose graduation requirements at many schools.

Throughout the charter school sector, graduation rates are robust, as is the percentage of students who go onto college. Contrary to claims that charter students enjoy this success because charters supposedly cream, the majority of charter school students are minority (52 percent), at-risk (50 percent), or low-income (54 percent). What’s more, 40 percent of the nation’s charters serve an at-risk population of at least 60 percent. In many larger urban centers like Washington, DC, Boston, MA and Detroit, MI, charters serve students that are nearly 100 percent at-risk, low-income and/or minority.

Perhaps it’s because charters typically offer smaller school sizes, have the operational autonomy to provide innovative and individualized instruction and are held accountable for results. Consider…

In Washington, DC, where the graduation rate is 57 percent, 42 seniors at the Washington Latin Public Charter School graduated this month, 100 percent of whom will be attending college. DC’s Hospitality High, which has focused on preparing students for career opportunities in the hospitality industry since 1999, has graduated more than 2,000 students over its tenure.

Frontier School of Excellence in Kansas City, MO boasted a 100 percent graduation rate. Prime Prep Charter School in Dallas, started by ex-NFL great Deion Sanders, celebrated its first graduating class in a city that graduates only 64 percent of its high school students.

“Open your eyes…you made it. Be proud,” high school graduate Jordin Whyland told her fellow classmates of SABIS International Charter School in Springfield, MA. Wyland is one of 96 graduating seniors, 100 percent will be attending college in the fall.

The 59 graduates at Silver State Charter High School proved themselves immune from Nevada’s third lowest graduation rate in the country. The graduation of seven students at Richard McKenna Charter High School in Idaho shows that charter achievement isn’t limited to large metropolitan areas.

At the highly regarded Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, 84 students made up the school’s third graduating class. In California, parents celebrated as their children graduated from the small West Sacramento Early College Prep. Another 630 students graduated this year from California’s Virtual Academy, thanks to this innovative model.

Congratulations to the graduates and kudos to the lawmakers who understand why charters are a critical piece of the empowerment puzzle for students to attain success. When only ten states earn the equivalent of a “C” or higher for education reform, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure that parents have power and more students will be able to graduate – and make progress – without delay.