At Philadelphia’s Mastery Charter Network, Culture Is Key to Turning Around Failing Schools

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Friday, February 17, 2017
 John Wister Elementary School in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood, children come to class wearing matching polo shirts. In the hallways, students walk in straight, silent, and orderly lines. In the classrooms, signs instruct children to sit "like a S.T.A.R." -- meaning "Sit up tall," "Track the speaker," "Ask and answer questions," and "Respect those around you." In one classroom, a teacher's math lesson comes across as a rapid-fire combination of instruction, refocusing, and admonishment for improper behavior: "So, we can separate the numbers, we can add the 10s and the 1s, what else did we learn about? We're not playing with shoelaces; put your hands in your lap, please, thanks so much. What is another way we learn?" Until last year, Wister's students had never experienced this degree of structure in their school. But when the children returned to the old brick building in August, the floors Click to read more