It is our honor to give you the good news. You can read the Washington Post piece here. You can also check out the tweets that were tweeted during yesterday’s meeting at the bottom of the page.
“The D.C. Public Charter School Board voted at its meeting Monday night to give conditional approval to Harmony Public Schools, which operates the largest charter chain in Texas.
Harmony plans to establish an elementary school focused on science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — that will grow one grade each year until it serves children in kindergarten through grade 12. Eventually, the organization hopes to operate several elementary and middle schools feeding into one stand-alone high school, Harmony Superintendent Soner Tarim said in an interview.
Members of the District’s charter school board said they were impressed by the hands-on and project-based learning they observed when they visited Harmony schools in Texas. Harmony’s strong academic record helped it win a $30 million Race to the Top grant from the Obama administration last year.
“I saw a lot of active learning, not just sitting and listening to the teacher,” said Darren Woodruff. “That was impressive and something that is really needed in the District of Columbia.”
Naomi DeVeaux, deputy executive director of the District’s charter school board, said the board’s staff had examined the allegations against Harmony but found no cause for concern or evidence that laws had been broken.
She said a wide range of officials spoke highly of Harmony, including officials at the U.S. Education Department, the Texas Education Agency, members of the Texas state board of education and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to educate children in the nation’s capital,” Harmony spokeswoman Julie Norton wrote in an e-mail. “Nationwide, there’s a need for STEM education and we’re excited and committed to providing a model in STEM education excellence for students in Washington, D.C.”
It seems Donna Garner has returned her defaming ways again. She wrote an article, where she clearly distorts and misinterprets the data about Harmony Public Schools.
As Harmony Schools Advoctes, we have obtained the “correct” information from Harmony officials. Here it is:
61% (23 out of 38) of HPS campuses have earned at least one distinction designation compared to 42% of all Texas campuses.
21% (8 out of 38) of HPS campuses earned distinctions in all three potential areas compared to 9% in Texas.
It is surprising to see how the above data are used in a negative manner. As for the claims about end-of-course tests and some students being told not to participate, we believe this is the worst part; very disrespectful to all the teachers and administrators on our campuses. Everyone is so great with test security. Below you can also find out the data about the number of teachers on H-1 visas.
Once again, Donna Garner bites on granite! When she made a claim last time, her accusation was debunked. But she seems to have recovered from her latest embarrassment.
Harmony aims to replicate successful STEM education model in Washington, D.C.
(from Harmony press release)
Texas’ largest charter school operator applies for first charter outside of state
Houston, Texas – November 11, 2013 – Texas-based Harmony Public Schools (HPS) recently submitted an application for a charter in Washington, D.C., its first school outside of Texas. HPS operates 40 high performing K-12 college preparatory public charter schools throughout Texas and is headquartered in Houston.
If approved, Harmony School of Excellence-DC (HSE-DC) would open for 2014-2015 school year and bring HPS’ nationally recognized science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) model for educating college-ready students to the nation’s capital. HSE-DC would serve approximately 216 students in grades kindergarten through five the first year, adding a grade each subsequent year until it ultimately serves approximately 850 students in grades K-12.The application was submitted to the Washington, D.C., Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB).
“We believe Harmony has the education model and experience to provide Washington, D.C., students the opportunity to excel in STEM subjects in a safe, stimulating environment,” said Dr. Soner Tarim, CEO and Superintendent of HPS. “The nation’s economic success depends on a workforce proficient in STEM subjects and possessing the skills and capacity for innovation. Harmony’s model provides the education and critical thinking skills that students need to lead innovation in the future.”
Harmony’s philosophy is that excellence in math and science prepares youth to succeed in college, the workplace and the 21st century. Harmony’s model for success relies on challenging curriculum with project-based learning as part of the core studies, ongoing assessments that monitor student progress and a culture of high expectations. By recognizing that each child is unique, with special interests and abilities, Harmony can create student-centered education that caters to the individual and celebrates diversity.
Harmony Public Schools currently operates 40 campuses across Texas in mostly under-served communities. The HPS model works to close the achievement gap for minority populations, with students consistently excelling at STEM courses and performing higher than regional and state averages on standardized test scores. Harmony serves a diverse population of students, with each campus serving a student population representative of the community in which campuses are located. System-wide, about 56 percent of Harmony’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunches and 80 percent are minority. More than 40,000 Texas students have been educated at Harmony since 2000.
Two Harmony students from Houston were chosen among 38 participants who wrote essays for the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Patriot’s Pen Essay Competition.
Every year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization hosts the Patriot’s Pen competition, a youth essay writing contest that engages students in grades 6-8 in researching and writing about a selected topic, helping them to form an understanding and appreciation of the service of our country’s veterans. The topic for the 2013-14 school year was “What Patriotism Means to Me”
This year, students at the Harmony School of Innovation-Houston worked with VFW Post 5619 to submit nearly 40 essays for consideration, and from that group Hasham D. and Vincent P. were selected as the first and third place winners respectively!
They will now advance to the next round of the competition in hopes of making it to the finals to win 1st place and the grand prize of $5000. HSI-Houston principal Mr. Bilal Ozen, assistant principal Mr. Huseyin Demirhan, teachers and the parents to Hasham and Vincent are all extremely proud of the students’ accomplishment.
For more information on the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, their mission and other activities, please visit http://www.vfw.org/home/
Global education technology company provides support to Harmony’s PBL initiative.
PASCO is the global expert in 21st century science education. For almost 50 years, we have been designing, developing and supporting innovative education technology solutions for primary, secondary, and university level science.
PASCO and its network of science education partners have assisted educators on both school-level and ministry-level projects in more than 100 countries around the world.
From the article:
” With the $30 million grant, Harmony has joined forces with PASCO scientific and strengthened their physics program, using the latest PASCO technology and physics apparatus. PASCO has supplied the schools with probeware, software, and data collection devices, as well as a rich Professional Development plan to support the program.”
Students at Harmony Public Schools were all smiles this week as they finally received their own personal Chromebooks
This week, Harmony Public Schools had the honor of passing out Lenovo Chromebooks to all 6th-12th grade students.
This is just one of the many technological benefits students will receive as a result of the Race-To The-Top District Grant funding awarded to Harmony by the U.S. Department of Education.
In late 2012, Harmony Public Schools applied for and was chosen as one of the first charter systems to ever receive this award. More information about Harmony’s Race-to-the-Top Grant activities can be found here and here.
Harmony Science Academy Waco gave us the good news.
Elyse Pravel loves math and robotics, but it’s the Harmony Science Academy student’s passion for helping others achieve that makes her stand out.
She was named the 33rd Outstanding Youth Citizenship Award winner during a luncheon Monday at the Waco Lions Den. The Rotary Club of Waco and the Tribune-Herald co-sponsor the awards.
The University of Texas-bound senior spends three hours Tuesday evenings as a mentor with the College Readiness Leadership Program. The program assists eighth- and ninth-grade girls in preparing for college life, Pravel said.
Read more here…
We were informed by Harmony Parent about this sensational event. Kudos to Harmony School of Ingenuity.
Harmony School of Ingenuity received 2nd place in the food drive for the “Food for Families” event hosted by the Houston Rockets which donated to Target Hunger and Kids Meals, Inc. We collected over 3300 canned goods and non-perishable items
We had the honor of having special guest Jeremy Lin visit our campus to personally thank our HS-Ingenuity students and staff for participating in this event. The winning classes were 5C- Ms Duong’s homeroom and 7B- Mrs Lane’s homeroom. Students received Rockets T-shirts and two free game tickets. We would like to thank ALL families that donated items to help other families in need.
An official video of Jeremy’s visit to HS-Ingenuity can be found here: http://www.nba.com/rockets/video/jeremy-lin-and-food-families
We, Harmony Schools Advocates, have received many beautiful and meaningful letters from our fellow parents after “60 Minutes” was aired on May 13, 2012. We did publish some of them and due to space limitations, we could not publish all the letters we have received. On the other hand, we were also notified that there were still some detractors like Donna Garner, who were able to find something to object despite all these success stories of Harmony Public Schools.
Ms. Garner’s point of concern, this time, was Dr. Soner Tarim, the Superintendent of Harmony Public Schools, who was accused by Ms. Garner of not speaking to public a lot. Some of us have known Dr. Tarim for several years and he is not a type of person that appears on the media on every occasion, nor does he take the credit when something is accomplished or achieved.
We all know that more than 1,500 staff members, over 20 thousand students and parents of Harmony are the ones behind the success of Harmony Public Schools, but we also believe that credit should be given to those when it is due. It is high time that Dr. Soner Tarim be recognized for his hard work and self-dedication.
We have also realized that Harmony Parent website has already done this well-deserved recognition about Dr. Tarim, but we still believe that it wouldn’t be enough even if we praised Dr. Tarim and his excellence for pages. By the way, you should take a look at that article at Harmony Parent to find out more about the dedication of Dr. Soner Tarim.
Almost all Harmony Schools Advocates, one way or another, personally met with Dr. Tarim and attended one of his open house presentations about Harmony Public Schools. He is a self-confident, open-minded and forward-looking gentleman with some class. He will probably be offended to us because of our praise. But we take our chance here. We believe that he has never become a one-man show and his manners just look natural.
As mentioned in that linked post, if he had not shown such degree of dedication during the first years of Harmony Schools, we would, most probably, have never seen Harmony Schools flourishing that much.
We are aware that our thanks would not be sufficient to match Dr. Tarim’s efforts, but in the wake of recent national ranking of Harmony Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News, we appreciate his presence and we wish him to be with us for the years to come.
Update: We have been hearing this “Gulen Charter Schools” nonsense for some time and we haven’t paid much attention to that. It is always easy to try to put someone into disgrace. So, we really don’t care what the charter school detractors are up to. Also, our fellow blog, Harmony Parent, does a decent job to handle the accusations.
Harmony Public Schools have issued a statement regarding the “60 Minutes” broadcast aired on May 13, 2012:
You can download the PDF version of the statement here: Harmony Public Schools and 60 Minutes: Setting the Record Straight – 5/14/2012
A segment of the May 13 television news show 60 Minutes included references to Harmony Public Schools (HPS) of Texas that may have left some inaccurate impressions. Please note the following facts about Harmony Public Schools, all of which were shared with 60 Minutes before the show was broadcast:
- HPS operates charter schools in Texas only.
- HPS are non-profit, open enrollment, Texas public schools, free to all students living in their respective independent school districts or surrounding districts.
- HPS is overseen by the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education, and follows the same rules and regulations as any other public school in Texas.
- HPS are not part of a national network of charter schools.
- HPS are not affiliated in any way with any religious or political organizations, including the so-called Gulen movement.
- HPS do not teach religion in any form.
- Approximately 16 percent of HPS teachers are on H-1B temporary work visas due to the well-documented shortage of qualified math and science teachers in the U.S. These teachers go through a rigorous, multiple agency U.S-government visa process before being approved to teach in the U.S.
- Of the more than 1,800 HPS employees, we have two teachers on H-1B temporary work visas who teach English. Both are graduates of an English language or literature program, and meet state and federal definitions of being “highly-qualified” to teach.
- The former teacher from Ohio who alleged that her husband was required to give a portion of his paycheck to an unnamed organization has never had any association with HPS whatsoever.
- In addition to having two schools ranked in Newsweek’s 2011 list of “Top 500″ High Schools in America and “Ten Miracle High Schools,” three HPS campuses made U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools 2012 Rankings.”
Thank you for your continued interest in Harmony Public Schools. We remain confident that the more factual information people have about HPS, the more people will understand our philosophy and mission: Excellence is our standard, we expect every student to perform to the highest standards, and we believe that every child can achieve excellence in the classroom, and in life, if we nurture, develop and challenge them.