First Lady Recognizes Education Success Story

Jun 11, 2010, 15:37 ET from Center for Education Reform

Anacostia High holds first graduation ceremony after turnaround by Friendship Public Charter Schools

WASHINGTON, June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Demonstrating what can be done to improve public education when adults put the needs of students above their own contracts, the restructured Anacostia High School today graduated 146 children, a feat made possible by the work of Friendship Public Charter Schools, whose portfolio includes nine schools.

First Lady Michelle Obama attended Anacostia High's graduation ceremony and, in her commencement address, recalled the perseverance and character that define this year's graduates, encouraging them to remain committed to their education.

In his remarks, school principal Malik Bazzell focused on a year of change and challenge, of overcoming obstacles and creating a new school culture. This new culture of success is clearly showcased in the fact that 90 percent of Anacostia graduates will be headed to college in the fall.

Friendship Public Charter Schools, which was invited by the D.C. Public Schools Chancellor last year to restructure the chronically-failing Anacostia High School, has worked quickly to remedy serious academic problems at the school, including low proficiency rates (only 18 percent of students read at grade level), a truancy rate of over 50 percent, and a graduation rate of 50 percent.

Now, under the leadership of Friendship's founder Donald Hense, a member of The Center for Education Reform's board of directors, the school's attendance rate has increased to 70 percent, academic scores are increasing, and 75 percent of new teachers are participants in the highly-selective Teach for America program.

"On behalf of everyone dedicated to meaningful education reform, I congratulate Donald Hense and his leadership for providing students with the education they deserve and for helping them to successfully graduate today," said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. "We are also grateful that Mrs. Obama today recognized the tremendous, transformational success that Anacostia High has made in just one year."

Allen noted that D.C.'s strong education reform portfolio—which includes a strong charter school law—has helped accelerate the turnaround of schools like Anacostia High.

"D.C.'s education reform efforts should be a model for big cities across the nation," Allen said. "There is still much work to be done, but today's graduation gives us all reason to celebrate the success of children who are learning and enjoying their education for the first time in a long time."

The Center for Education Reform drives the creation of better educational opportunities for all children.  CER changes laws, minds and cultures to allow good schools to flourish.

SOURCE Center for Education Reform