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Robert Maranto

In Service of Citizenship: YES Prep Public Schools and Civic Education

In the latest in a series of in-depth case studies exploring how top-performing charter schools have incorporated civic learning in their school curriculum and school culture, Robert Maranto (University of Arkansas) takes a look at Houston’s YES Prep Public Schools. YES Prep (the “YES” stands for Youth Engaged in Service) began in 1995 as a program at Rusk Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District, then became its own independent charter school in 1998, and currently is home to 10 grade 6–12 campuses serving 6,400 students in the Houston area. From its beginning, Maranto points out, “YES Prep has emphasized citizenship through service to the community.”

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AEI Report: In Service of Citizenship: YES Prep Public Schools and Civic Education

In Service of Citizenship: YES Prep Public Schools and Civic Education
By Robert Maranto
(April 3, 2013)

The “YES” in the name of YES Prep Public Schools stands for Youth Engaged in Service. From its start as a program at Rusk Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in 1995 to its opening as a single independent charter school in 1998 to its current network of 10 grade 6–12 campuses with some 600 teachers serving 6,400 students, YES Prep has emphasized citizenship through service to the community.

YES Prep is often compared to another “no-excuses” network of charter schools: the much touted Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). Like KIPP, YES Prep began in the 1990s in Houston before chartering with the support of then-HISD Superintendent Rod Paige. Both networks were founded by and are still largely staffed by Teach for America (TFA) corps members. (In a survey of YES Prep social studies teachers I conducted, 61 percent reported being trained by an alternative program such as TFA, compared to 17 percent of traditional public school social studies teachers. Both charter networks are highly successful academically; YES Prep boasts a 100 percent college placement rate and high college completion rates for low-income students. Seventy-two percent of YES Prep alumni have completed college or are making progress toward that goal, compared to around 10 percent of disadvantaged students generally.  Like KIPP, YES Prep serves a predominantly minority student population (86 percent Hispanic), 78 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged.

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AEI