Best Academy, Harvest Prep and the New Mastery School are a system of Minneapolis charter schools designed to bridge the achievement gap between socially disadvantaged student and their successful counterparts. Best Academy, chosen as one of the best schools in the nation for narrowing the achievement gap, is an all-boys school dedicated to the academic, social and moral development of young men, particularly African American males. Mastery School also offers single classrooms for boys and girls while Harvest Prep School remains coed.
In an American education system where black children lag behind in the subjects of reading, math, science and technology, these Minneapolis Charter schools offer a beacon of hope, not only for the Minneapolis School system but for schools across the United States. The success of the schools represents the dedication and conviction of the founder that it takes a village to raise a child and that all children can obtain a quality education and become a great contributor to society.
According to Insight News, an African American newspaper serving Minneapolis and St. Paul,” the success of three Minneapolis Charter schools in 2012 has been the most progressive in the history of the State’s premiere education resource for Black children.” To substantiate this claim, the founder, Eric Mahmoud, executive director of Best Academy, reported that:
• “Best Academy is recognized as a reward school for academic achievement for both 2011 and 2012. Only the top 10% of Minnesota schools receive such an award”
• “Harvest Prep Academy is the number one “beating odds school in reading and math.”
• “Harvest Prep Academy earned best Performance on the science MCA in 2012, with an improved score of 30 percentage points over the previous school year, exceeding the Minneapolis School districts average in science.”
• “Best Academy’s Fifth grade students outperformed Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) (BA 56% ver. MPS 33%) in science in 2012.”
• “Best Academy is number one Middle school in the state of Minnesota in educating Black middle school students and number two in the state in the education of Black elementary students.”
The above accomplishments are only a few of the milestones that have been achieved by these high performing charter schools. According to Mahmoud, as reports by Insight News, “To date, there has not been an educational system in Minnesota that has achieved the success that Harvest Prep and Best Academy have achieved for low-income and socially disadvantaged children who are at the greatest risk of academic failure.”
Best Academy, Harvest Prep and the New Mastery School stand as roles models for the education of socially disadvantaged students across America. The elimination of illiteracy, poverty, entitlement dependency and a poor quality of life among socially and financially deprived children must be a top priority for all schools.
The excellent performance of Mahmoud’s three outstanding charter schools is based on a set of outstanding practices that can revolutionize any low performing school. According to the New Mastery School’s website, these strategies include:
• “Longer school year consisting of 9 hours a day (196 days a year)”
• “Employing teachers dedicated to high student achievement”
• “One on one academic support and focus in reading and math”
• “Emphasizing a school culture of excellence and achievement”
• “An environment safety and academic excitement”
The impact of these strategies speaks for themselves. Just implementing two or three of them could change the course of a school and the quality of education for its students.
In addition, the ability to close the achievement gap between socially disadvantages and low income students and their high performing counterparts starts with the belief that all students, regardless of background, can obtain a quality education with the help of teachers, parents and communities dedicated academic success of the child. Best Academy, Harvest Prep and the New Mastery School will stand as a shining light to all educational institution who aspire the betterment of African American students as well as other underprivileged children, regardless of race.