Interesting story about another large charter school network in Texas.
With little fanfare, the Harmony Academy system has become the powerhouse of the Texas charter school scene — easily surpassing KIPP and Yes Prep as the largest charter network in the state.
The 10-year-old public school chain has 33 campuses in Texas – including 11 in Houston. By 2012, Harmony expects enrollment to reach 24,000 – nearing KIPP’s national enrollment.
Roughly 21,000 families signed up to be on Harmony’s waiting list prior to the start of this school year. Campuses are at capacity, academic performance remains strong and the charter system continues to be in good standing with the Texas Education Agency.
Students say they prefer Harmony’s small student-teacher ratio, usually 12-to-1.
“At my old school, they barely knew my name,” said eighth-grader Diana Acosta, who attended Welch Middle School in HISD before transferring last year to Harmony School of Art and Technology on Kirby.
Harmony students regularly earn top honors at science and robotics competitions. Collectively, the schools teach nine languages, including Vietnamese, Russian and Turkish, in addition to the typical offerings such as Spanish and French.
And even as charter schools statewide face funding and facilities hurdles, Harmony Academy has taken advantage of the lackluster economy. Its leaders secured bond funds and used stimulus money to build their first new campuses – which are polished, if not flashy, compared to their original schools in strip malls, former churches and abandoned big box stores.
Note the small class sizes. They’ll have an easier time marketing that after this legislative session. I don’t really have anything to add here, but as I had never heard of these guys a couple of months ago, I thought this was worth pointing out.