January 29, 2009
State law previously restricted charter schools from admitting pre-kindergarten students; they could go only from kindergarten through 12th grade.
But now Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Harlem Success Academy chain of four charter schools, has found a way to open the schools up to pre-kindergarteners. Success Academy recently petitioned the SUNY Board of Trustees to allow “developmental kindergarten,” which is for 4-year-olds — and won.
The change could pave the way for other charter schools to work with children from an earlier age. Charter schools in other cities enroll 4-year-0lds, mixing traditional aspects of early childhood like play time with the rigorous math and reading focus of many charter schools.
Success Academy spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis told me that Harlem Success Academy 2 plans to enroll 4-year-olds next year. They will take “developmental” kindergarten their first year, and then move onto traditional kindergarten. “We are huge supporters of pre-K and early childhood education and we’re interested in looking at innovative ways to bring excellent programs to more at-risk children,” Sedlis wrote in an e-mail.
CORRECTION: Originally this post said the Board of Regents had to approve Harlem Success’s request. It was actually the SUNY Board of Trustees, which authorizes charter schools.