Harvest Prep founder engineers school success

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2012 - 3:35 PM

Eric Mahmoud has erased the achievement gap at his charter schools on Minneapolis' North Side.

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duespaghettiMar. 24, 12 7:15 AM

Thank you for your good work on behalf of our children, Eric. You are a motivation to us all.

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panndderMar. 24, 12 7:35 AM

While this is a compelling story and wonderful for the kids who are finding success in this school, it's important to note that charter (and private) schools suffer from selection bias. Parents who take the time and energy to seek out a school like this for their children have already shown that they have a vested interest in their kid's success and education. The biggest difference between this charter school and some of the North side public schools which test poorly is not what happens inside the school, but rather the inputs. Sadly, parents who work multiple jobs or single parents may not have the time or resources to seek out a school like that, and it that's the case they probably do not have the time or resources to help their kids with their homework regularly or ensure that they are on a track towards success.

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katenadeauMar. 24, 12 8:13 AM

Quoting Peter Hutchinson: it works. And now the Minneapolis Public Schools are ready to replicate it. This is fantastic news and, frankly, it is about time.

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educator1Mar. 24, 12 8:19 AM

Congrats to the students, families and educators at Harvest Prep. There are examples of similar district & charter public schools all over the nation. Some of the families are active, some not. Denying what these schools accomplish is part of the reason we have a major achievement gap in Minnesota. We know what to do.

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jsmithxcMar. 24, 12 8:47 AM

A careful read of the article shows that what goes on inside Harvest Prep is indeed different than what happens in most schools. The major difference is the length of the school year and the school day, much longer - hence more instruction. I suspect many other differences can be found as well. I work at a similar charter on the north side. We too have "beaten the odds" as the Star Tribune has called our school as well as Harvest Prep. After 20 years in education I guarantee that something different is happening in these "beat the odds" schools than in most schools. Lets also be clear that charter schools are public schools and as such take all comers.

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swmnguyMar. 24, 12 9:05 AM

Good for Harvest Prep. It would be great if these results can be sustained and replicated. Parents do have to seek out Harvest Prep, however, so the toughest case kids are still going to the regular Public Schools, by default. The parents who aren't involved, and don't care, don't find Harvest Prep for their kids. Harvest Prep is not serving these most-deprived kids; nor is it serving Special Ed. These are the two most difficult and expensive kids to serve.

Never mind that. Even if it isn't a "silver bullet," Harvest Prep is doing good things. Good for them! And if there's something in the model that can be copied elsewhere with good results, so much the better.

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dentesterMar. 24, 12 9:47 AM

Obviously, his critics are all associated with the teachers union and the desegregationists because he disproves all of their claims that black kids can't learn unless they're sitting next to suburban white kids and the teachers union's antiquated methods are the only ones that work.

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JvonkorffMar. 24, 12 9:58 AM

When students come to school behind, they come to school with a built in disadvantage in terms of time spent learning. Unless they make up that time, they begin to believe that they will never succeed, and so this program is overcoming the achievement gap with a combination of high expectations for both teachers and students and increased learning time, rigorous evaluation of data, interventions Probably, the particular teaching strategies used at Harvest Prep are not as important as the combination of high expectations for staff and students and increased learning time. The legislature needs to stop spending its time on partisan bickering and give all public school districts, not just charters, the legal framework, and where necessary, the resources, to implement programs of this kind.

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sarah626Mar. 24, 1210:33 AM

dentester- I am a member of the teachers' union and I applaud Harvest Prep and Mr. Mahmoud. In fact, I've been fascinated by his approach for years and have actively followed his program's progress. Your comments make me wonder a couple things: Do you even know any teachers in a meaningful way? Do you engage in meaningful conversations with educators? Or do you just think you have all the answers because you went to school once upon a time? I'm guessing you read a lot of mainstream media too and are willing to believe what you are spoon fed.

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chuckdancerMar. 24, 1210:39 AM

I guess my questions would start with class size; what are the sizes of the classes at this school? Another question would involve cost; if the cost of our schools is thought by many in the community to be higher than it should be, then what makes this a sustainable approach for the education system as a whole? If this man receives $163,000 in base salary for one thousand students and the operation has its own building overhead, plus a complete level of internal administration that is getting paid more than a regular teacher, there must be creative accounting aspects to the operation.

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