Education in Harlem

Tito Puente Educational Complex

Education in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, in Manhattan, is provided in schools and institutions of higher education, both public and private.

For many decades, Harlem has been a center of controversy over the lower quality of public education in African American and lower-income communities in the United States.

Community districts

New York City is divided into many Community School Districts (CSDs), although many functions formerly performed at the district level are now distributed elsewhere. Those districts with jurisdiction in parts of Harlem are Districts 2 through 6 plus District 75. Some or all of these districts also serve parts of Manhattan outside of Harlem. District 75 is for special education and therefore is a City-wide district that encompasses Harlem.

Some schools located outside of Harlem may have programs that take place in Harlem. An example is City-As-School, a public noncharter high school headquartered in downtown Manhattan that supports education in conjunction with internships across the city, thus potentially including Harlem.


As of 1993, Harlem, as home predominantly to people of African descent with incomes below the current national median, many living in poverty, and thus subject to racism and classism, found education disadvantaged. "East Harlem was consistently at the bottom in reading and math test scores."[1]

In the 1930s, overcrowding in schools in Harlem was identified as a major impediment to education and a subject for reform efforts. Lucile Spence, Gertrude Elise McDougald Ayer, and Layle Lane were educators involved in the reform efforts.[2]

"Opportunities to enter a racially mixed high school were minimal, and by 1913 fewer than two hundred Black high school students attended racially mixed high schools."[3] Also in "1913, only fifteen Black male students . . . [p. 57:] . . . were registered at ["DeWitt"] Clinton ["Evening High School (for Men)"] [(the school was at 59th St. & 10th Av., not in Harlem)]."[3]

"[I]t was not until 1905 that an evening high school was established in the 'Negro district.'"[4]

Modern controversies

Not receiving Regents high school diplomas on time is more common in Harlem than in most other communities in the city, at least as of 2006. This does not include GEDs, special education diplomas, or alternative certificates, as they're unhelpful for career development or college entry. But the lower graduation rates are partly concealed in official statistics, because they're not based on good reasoning about who gets counted and who does not. For example, children in the criminal justice system are not counted, thus when many of them drop out they're not counted.[5]

The public noncharter schools in Harlem and kindred communities have been criticized for decades as being educationally among the worst in the city. By contrast, the charters in Harlem have been praised for their quality of education, even when compared to charters elsewhere in the nation.[6] The operator of one group of charter schools, Eva Moskowitz, wrote as an opinion that well-performing charter schools have led to an improvement in the performance of public noncharter schools, although much more improvement is still needed.[7] Charters have been criticized on other grounds, but not uniquely to Harlem, except for objections to there being so many charters in Harlem competing with public noncharter schools for classroom space. Transfers of teachers involuntarily into Harlem in the 1960s, by sending the teachers to schools with difficult students, were reputedly intended by the City's Board of Education to drive unwanted teachers out of the profession altogether.[8]

Columbia University has periodically planned physical expansion, competing for space with residents, and seeking coordination with New York State for the application of eminent domain on the ground of blight.[9][10][11]

Elementary through high school

This covers pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Public schools

Publicly funded schools include noncharter and charter schools, generally not charging tuition, and getting their funds primarily from state and city governments.

Noncharter schools

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
PS 46

The New York City Department of Education runs public noncharter schools in Harlem and provides a locator service for finding them. These include:

Charter schools

Charter schools are authorized by any of three authorizing agencies and operate under fewer rules than do noncharter schools, and often have higher expectations for students. In Harlem, many charters outperform noncharter schools,[12] doing a better job of educating students in math and English as measured by state examinations. Charters are generally free of tuition to attend. When a charter school receives more qualified applicants than it has classroom space to admit, it usually runs a lottery and places everyone who is not admitted that way onto a waitlist for possible openings later in the year. Schools offer classes in various grades and some add a grade each year, so that a student, once started, can continue studying in the same school.

In Harlem, about 20 percent of children who are eligible by age are enrolled in charters, and that does not count applicants who are denied admission because of lack of room.[6]

Charter schools in Harlem include:

Success Academy Harlem 1 schoolhouse
Schoolhouse of Success Academy Harlem 1

Private schools

Private schools generally charge tuition to attend.

Parochial schools

Parochial schools are generally run by religious institutions. Some include:

Nonparochial schools

Some private schools are not run by religious institutions. Some include:


Nurseries, sorted by the youngest age they generally accept, include:

Higher education

Colleges and universities include:


Morningside branch

Public libraries are suited to self-directed learning and the New York Public Library offer free online access from home to databases for research. In Harlem, the NYPL system has one research library and ten local branches (listed here with the research library first followed by the local branches approximately from south to north):

See also


  1. Fliegel, Seymour, with James MacGuire, Miracle in East Harlem: The Fight for Choice in Public Education (N.Y.: Times Books (div. of Random House) (Manhattan Institute book) 1st ed. [2nd printing?] 1993 (ISBN 0-8129-2039-2)), p. 23.
  2. Johnson, Lauri, A Generation of Women Activists: African American Female Educators in Harlem, 1930–1950, in The Journal of African American History, vol. 89, no. 3 (Summer, 2004), New Directions in African American Women's History, in JStor (database), as accessed Jun. 26, 2010, pp. 223–240 (biographies "of three African American female educators and community leaders who lived and worked in Harlem from the 1920s through the 1950s", id., p. 223; "overcrowded public schools disproportionately affected the average Harlemite", id., p. 224; "Harlem in the 1930s . . . became the site of intense organizing and social reform efforts . . . . [and] [p]rime areas of concern included . . . school reform", id., p. 225 (fn. omitted); add'l content not quoted here) (Stable URL).
  3. 1 2 Perry, Jeffrey Babcock, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918 (N.Y.: Columbia University Press, cloth [2nd printing?] 2009 (ISBN 978-0-231-13910-6)), pp. 56–57. Id., p. 57 n. 12, cites "[f]or the statistics" Blascoer, Francis (sic (probably should be "Frances")), Colored School Children in New York (1915; N.Y.: Negro Universities Press, 1970).
  4. Perry, Jeffrey Babcock, Hubert Harrison, op. cit., p. 55 (endnote, with further citations, omitted).
  5. Losen, Daniel J., Behind the Dropout Rate, in GothamGazette: The Place For NYC Politics and PolicyArchives), Mar. 20, 2006, as accessed Oct. 5, 2010 (website by Citizens Union Foundation) (author sr. educ. law & policy assoc., Civil Rights Project, Harvard Law School) (the article does not mention Harlem but the map in the article shows higher dropout rates in Census tracts that approximately coincide with Harlem).
  6. 1 2 Brill, Steven, The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand, (Single Page online URL), in The New York Times, in the Magazine, Sunday, May 23, 2010, p. MM32 (print version may differ), as accessed Jun. 10, 2010.
  7. Moskowitz, Eva, Another Charter School Test Passed, in The Wall Street Journal, vol. CCLX, no. 94, October 20–21, 2012, p. A11, [§] Opinion (Moskowitz is CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools).
  8. Kohl, Herbert R., 36 Children (N.Y.: New American Library (Plume book) (div. of Penguin) 1st Plume printing Sep. 1988 [17th printing?] 1967 (copyright of main text) (ISBN 0-452-26463-4)) (author taught Harlem public school 6th-grade classes in 1960s; school was at 119th St. & Madison Av.; book is an experiential journal)., p. vi (Introduction to the 1988 Edition (Mar., 1988)).
  9. Bagli, Charles V., Court Upholds Columbia Campus Expansion Plan, in The New York Times, June 24 or 25, 2010, p. A1, § N.Y. / Region (N.Y. ed.), as accessed Sep. 20, 2010.
  10. Irwin, Demetria, Columbia's Expansion Plan Moves Forward, in (The) New York Amsterdam News, vol. 99, issue 1 (ISSN 1059-1818), Dec. 27, 2007 – Jan. 2, 2008, pp. 3 & 31 (article), in Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost) (database) (PDF Full Text), as accessed Sep. 20, 2010.
  11. Boyd, Herb, Harlem Says No: Community Board Soundly Rejects Columbia Plan, in (The) New York Amsterdam News, vol. 98, issue 35 (ISSN 1059-1818), Aug. 23–29, 2007, pp. 1 & 30 (article) (cover story), in Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost) (database) (PDF Full Text), as accessed Sep. 20, 2010.
  12. Brill, Steven, The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand (Single Page online URL), in The New York Times, op. cit. ("Charter schools are not always better for children. Across the country many are performing badly. But when run well – as most in Harlem and New York’s other most-challenged communities appear to be – they can make a huge difference in a child’s life.").
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 N.Y.C. Department of Education, New York City Charter Schools, as accessed Sep. 26, 2010, column listing Charter Authorizer as "NYCDOE", "SUNY", or "NYSED".
  14. Fleisher, Lisa, New Charters Proposed for Manhattan, in The Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2012, 10:17 p.m., E.T., [§] New York, as accessed July 25, 2012 (a version printed as New Charters Proposed for Manhattan., p. A17 (U.S. ed.), July 16, 2012).
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Goldman, Victoria, & Catherine Hausman, revised by Victoria Goldman, The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools and Selective Public Schools (N.Y.: Soho Press, 5th ed. 2005 (ISBN 1-56947-389-7)).
  16. Shining Stars: East Harlem's Cristo Rey High School Is an Educational Beacon, in N.Y. Daily News, Jun. 10, 2010 (§ Editorials), as accessed Jun. 26, 2010.
  17. Harlem Academy's website, school's mission, as accessed Feb. 22, 2012.
  18. 1 2 The City College: Graduate Bulletin 2008–2010, pp. 26–27, as accessed Sep. 26, 2010.
  19. Overview of Child Development at CCNY
  20. Overview of the preschool at, as accessed Sep. 26, 2010.
  21. Schomburg's Web page, as accessed Oct. 5, 2010
  22. 96th St. Library's Web page
  23. Aguilar Library's Web page
  24. Morningside Heights library's Web page, as accessed Oct. 5, 2010 (the word "library" is not part of the official name of the branch and is not capitalized here, unlike with various other branches)
  25. 115th St. Library's Web page
  26. Harlem Library's Web page, as accessed Oct. 5, 2010
  27. 125th St. Library's Web page
  28. George Bruce Library's Web page
  29. Hamilton Grange Library's Web page
  30. Macomb's Bridge Library's Web page

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 40°48′32.52″N 73°56′54.14″W / 40.8090333°N 73.9483722°W / 40.8090333; -73.9483722

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