Democracy Prep Public School

Democracy Prep Public Schools


207 West 133rd Street
New York, NY 10030



Katie Duffy – Chief Executive Officer
T: (212) 281-1248
F: (212) 283-4202

Seth Andrew, Founder and Former Superintendent:

What We Stand For:

We believe that public schools have an obligation to help young people acquire and learn the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to become competent citizens throughout their lives. Democracy Prep schools do this in 5 major ways:

  • Civic engagement is a core part of our schools’ mission and culture. We hold weekly town hall meetings to discuss current events and community issues. Students organize yearly Get out the Vote (GOTV) drives (we’ve passed out 40,000 GOTV fliers across two states) and participate in mock elections. We host elected officials and community leaders at all our schools. Students participate in required community and public service.
  • We prepare our students to become advocates on issues of local concern, and we give them opportunities to use their skills in their communities. Students learn to—and do—meet with elected officials and conduct lobbying visits. They deliver testimony at city and state legislative hearings (they’re the youngest ever to do so in New York and Rhode Island), and learn to write their own testimony effectively.
  • We organize school and city-wide events with civic themes. We visit State Capitols and attend hearings and committee meetings. In 2009, our staff and students organized New York’s largest Inauguration celebration. We hosted one of Harlem’s largest election watching-parties, and our first-ever school dance was an Inaugural Ball.
  • Our schools have school-wide speech and debate programs. The public hallmark of our civic engagement program is our championship speech and debate team. Beginning in 7th grade, all DPPS students compete in forensics activities through the New York Urban Debate League and the Middle School Public Debate Program. Students have placed at national competitions across the country (including the Middle School National Championship in Claremont, CA). All of our high school students take a speech and debate course as part of their core academic program.
  • All our families register to vote. We believe a core component of civic participation happens at the ballot box. We ask all our families to register if they are able, and actively disseminate registration forms to our incoming families.

Effective Practices:

Work Hard. Go to College. Change the World!

Our program is based on the five core elements of the no-excuses movement: academic rigor, data-driven decisions, strong school culture, more time to learn, and exemplary teachers.

  • Academic Rigor: Democracy Prep’s curriculum is based on an accelerated application of the New York State Standards, along with internally-developed standards.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Democracy Prep believes in frequent assessment to tailor our instruction, utilizing daily course-specific data, weekly progress reports, six-week interim assessments, and trimester comprehensive exams.
  • A Strong School Culture: The academic work that our scholars do is supported by a strong school culture, built on the foundation of structure and joy.
  • More Time to Learn: The school day and school year at Democracy Prep is extended to allow our scholars enough time to master their academic work.
  • Exemplary Teachers: However, the single most important input in student success is exemplary teachers and to that end, we only hire the top 1% of educators to teach our scholars and we give them world-class professional development so they can deliver the best possible instruction.

While Democracy Prep holds core the elements of the no-excuses movement, we are additionally committed to educating all students to be effective citizens of their communities. Democracy Prep actively recruits students with special needs through comprehensive outreach strategies. All Democracy Prep students are educated for civic knowledge, civic understanding and civic disposition, so that they can live out the mission of Democracy Prep: Work Hard. Go to College. Change the World!

Recent Accomplishments:

The best example that the Democracy Prep model works is our flagship school, Democracy Prep Charter School. DPCS serves 400 students in grades 6-9, and so Democracy Prep Harlem’s academic program, school culture, recruitment and hiring practices, and operations strategy will replicate the DPCS model.

After just three years in operation, Democracy Prep’s results were exceptional. DPCS scholars close — and in some cases, even reverse — what Caroline Hoxby called in her groundbreaking study the “Harlem-Scarsdale Achievement Gap.” Consider the State Math exam as one example, after just one year at Democracy Prep, the 2009 7th graders outscore their counterparts in Scarsdale and all of Westchester County by almost 10%, literally reversing the Harlem-Scarsdale achievement gap.

On NYC accountability measures, Democracy Prep has performed consistently well. On the New York City’s Chancellor’s Progress Report, DPCS earned a 99.8 in 2009 and a 98.7 in 2008, making it the highest-ranked school in Harlem and 8th best (out of 1500) in New York City over the past 2 years. Finally, on the Learning Environment Survey, Democracy Prep scored in the top 1% of all NYC schools and has the highest satisfaction rates for parents, students and teachers of all open enrollment middle school.