Twenty Years and Thousands of Lives

by Ann Tisch
published on The Huffington Post website

This week as school starts around the country, I’m reminded that twenty years ago, 56 seventh-grade girls from East Harlem unknowingly touched off an extraordinary change in the landscape of public education. When they walked through the doors of the newly established Young Women’s Leadership School (TYWLS), their parents rejoiced. Their daughters would attend the first single-sex public school to open in the U.S. in more than thirty years - and they would be the first in their families to go to college.

In 1996 when we created TYWLS of East Harlem, we faced a firestorm of controversy. Two decades ago, creating a single-sex public school was considered radical. But, I knew starting a college prep public school for girls growing up in poverty was the right thing to do in an effort to correct the inequity in education. We not only made headlines, we made history....

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