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May 2, 2012
Parents contest charter schools proposed for crowded District 2
A hearing about Success Academy's proposed expansion into District 2 drew a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday evening. A public hearing to discuss Success Academy’s bid to open two new charter schools in Manhattan’s District 2 next year was dominated by angry residents who said the district’s schools are too crowded to share space. Parents from the district and members of its elected parent council said they opposed the proposal from the charter network because the district — which includes the Upper East Side down through Greenwich Village, Tribeca, and Lower Manhattan — is already overcrowded. The council passed resolutions at the end of March calling for Success Academy to find its own building instead of moving into existing public schools and for a moratorium on charter school applications in the district. “You can come in if you’re invited, but if the families are saying don’t come in, I don’t think you should come in,” said Shino Tanikawa, president of the Community Education Council for District 2. Tanikawa said she thinks of charter schools as “vampires.” Most parents at the public hearing had children enrolled in one of the six schools located at the Julia Richman Education Complex on the Upper East Side or P.S. 158, whose co-located school, P.S. 267, is set to depart for its own space in September. “What you’re essentially trying to do if you want to get into the complex is put 14 pounds of sand in a 10 pound bag,” said Guy Workman, whose daughter attends Talent Unlimited High School in the Richman Complex. Widespread crowding is nothing new in District 2, and neither is criticism of Success Academy schools: The charge that it should find its own space has followed the network, which is run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, virtually wherever it has sought to open.
March 12, 2012
Demand for newest Success charter schools isn't always local
With weeks to go before the deadline to apply to city charter schools, early numbers suggest that two controversial new schools are finding some takers — but mostly not from the neighborhoods where they are set to open. Cobble Hill Success Academy and Williamsburg Success Academy, the newest additions to Eva Moskowitz's Success Charter Network, have each received hundreds of applications already, according to the network. Cobble Hill has gotten nearly a thousand applications for its kindergarten and first grade, while the Williamsburg school has garnered nearly 700. But despite vigorous recruitment efforts, most of those applications are from outside the schools' districts. Just 260 of Cobble Hill's applicants come from District 15, and fewer than 200 applicants have signed on from District 14. Applications are due April 1, giving the schools nearly three weeks to find takers. But they do not appear to be on track to meet the numbers posted last year by Upper West Success, which opened amid protest. That school received 700 applications from residents of District 3 yet still opened under capacity this fall. Enrollment numbers are high stakes for new charter schools, which must prove local demand in order to win the right to open. The Success Network collected 4,100 signatures from people in District 15 who said they thought a new charter school was needed there. If too few local students enroll, it could damage the schools' credibility and undermine them if they try to open additional schools elsewhere, as the Success network plans to.
March 1, 2012
Moskowitz's Success expansion set to go deeper into Brooklyn
The city's school board isn't set to vote on the last of the Success Charter Network's 2012 expansion plans until tonight. But plans for the network's 2013 additions are already well underway. In a letter sent last month to elected officials and community leaders in central Brooklyn, Success CEO Eva Moskowitz announced that she intends to apply for charters to open three schools in the area in the 2013-2014 school year. One school would go in District 13, an area of Brooklyn that Moskowitz had originally said would house the school now set to open this fall in Cobble Hill. The two others would go in District 17, which includes Crown Heights and parts of Flatbush. Already, the tentative plans are drawing criticism. The district manager for Community Board 2, which covers much of District 13, told the Brooklyn Paper that the community would be hesitant to embrace any such plan after Moskowitz suddenly opted out of her plans to open a school in the district this year. “The board is not prepared to go down that road again,” Rob Perris told the newspaper. City Councilwoman Letitia James, whose district covers large swaths of both districts, said she has grown wary of co-location battles in public school facilities, something that has accompanied nearly all of the Success network's school openings.
February 8, 2012
For second year in a row, a new Moskowitz school is being sued
Sabrina Tan, a lawyer for Advocates for Justice, describes the firm's suit over a new charter school. Backed by a law firm that has battled the Department of Education in court repeatedly over the past year, a group of Cobble Hill parents announced today that they are suing to stop Eva Moskowitz's Brooklyn Success Academy 3 from moving into their neighborhood. Fifteen public school parents signed onto the suit, which Advocates for Justice said it would be filing today. The suit claims the city and Moskowitz circumvented state education laws when they abruptly changed plans for the school late last year. BSA 3 was originally approved for either District 13 or District 14, but the city revised its proposal in late October and announced the school would instead share a building with two high schools and a special needs elementary school in District 15. Opposition to the plan quickly mounted and reached a climax when protesters clashed with Moskowitz at a meeting she hosted for prospective parents in November. The city's Panel for Educational Policy approved the co-location plan two weeks later. It's the second time in as many years that a Success school has been the subject of a lawsuit from the surrounding community. Last April, parents on the Upper West Side filed suit against the city's plan to site a Success school on the Brandeis campus, charging that the network was not serving the needy student population that was written into its charter. The suit was dismissed just weeks before the school was slated to open.
January 13, 2012
Critical stickers added to Success Academy’s new subway ads
An advertising onslaught to promote a new charter school is being met by anonymous adversaries who have a guerilla marketing strategy of their own. Glossy…
December 14, 2011
Other schools without space where city gave Moskowitz a home
By the end of tonight's Panel for Educational Policy meeting, Eva Moskowitz's new Success Academy charter school is virtually assured of having a home next fall in Brownstone Brooklyn. For another charter school that, unlike Moskowitz's, had applied to open there, the future is less certain. The charter school that the Department of Education has proposed siting in District 15 was originally authorized to open in nearby District 13 or District 14, but in an unusual move, the city altered the plan. Meanwhile, the department has not yet proposed locations for two charter schools approved for District 15, and a founder of one of them says she isn't optimistic that her school will open in the area. The Brooklyn Urban Garden School, a mom-and-pop charter middle school founded by a group of parents and educators who live in District 15, applied for public space when its charter application was approved in August. But there were only two school buildings in the district with enough space for new schools and co-founder Susan Tenner said she doesn't expect BUGS to be offered space in either of them. As a result, she said she's unsure if the school, which has an environmental theme, can afford to open for the 2012-2013 school year. "We're still shooting for August, but we're kind of in a tough spot until we've signed a lease," Tenner said. One option the school might have: To open in District 13, where there is more available school space and fewer high-performing schools — and where Moskowitz originally proposed siting her school.
December 12, 2011
Williamsburg Success charter school co-location details emerge
Two days before the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on Brooklyn co-locations for two Success Network charter schools, a proposal for a third school in the heart of Williamsburg is taking shape. The Department of Education is expected to release the proposal as early as today for the school, which would open next year with about 180 students in Kindergarten and first grade. The school would be sited at J.H.S 50 John D Wells, a middle school with about 450 students. The proposal comes weeks after a plan was announced to expand the Success Network into a more affluent part of the borough known as Brownstone Brooklyn in District 15. That announcement was met with fierce opposition from the district's Community Education Council and from education activists who say that the school is not in demand from the community. In both instances, the interest in entering new neighborhoods underlines a strategic shift for the Success charter network's academic mission, which has previously been to concentrate on narrowing the achievement gap for low-income students living in poor communities. By opening in areas with larger populations of middle class families, Success Network head Eva Moskowitz said she wants to open enrollment at her schools to more affluent students. Moskowitz has already expressed interest in opening a school in Williamsburg and its charter was approved for District 14 in September, but details about where it would be located were not certain.
November 29, 2011
Showdown set for year's first charter school co-location hearing
Many of the attendees who lined up outside Brooklyn Tech for last February's Panel for Educational Policy meeting came to protest the creation of a Success Academy Charter School on the Upper West Side. Back-to-back rallies set for this afternoon augur a contentious co-location hearing for the newest outpost in the Success Charter Network. The creation of Cobble Hill Success Academy, which won approval earlier this year to open next fall in Brooklyn's District 13, has sparked conflict in District 15, the location of the school's proposed site. Advocates and critics of the city's plan to co-locate the charter school with two secondary schools and a special education program will lay out their cases during tonight's public hearing — and beforehand, in rallies set for outside the Baltic Street building. The public hearing is the first of the year and ushers in a season of rancorous co-location hearings. Some families have lamented crowding in high-performing local elementary schools and said they would appreciate new options. But others say they are worried that the new school would strain resources at the proposed site without effectively serving the high-needs populations it was originally intended to serve. Cobble Hill Success's promise to serve low-income, immigrant families in District 13 was a boon to its application, according to Pedro Noguera, an education professor who green-lighted the school's original application as a member of the State University of New York's Charter Schools Institute. "We have tried to take the position recently that we can put charter schools where there is clearly a need for better schools for kids, so targeting the more disadvantaged communities. We have also seen the areas that are a saturation of charter schools, so we want to encourage them to open in areas that have a high need and aren't being served," said Noguera, who will be participating in an education debate this evening in the West Village. "A school in Cobble Hill clearly does not meet that criteria."
November 22, 2011
At Upper West Success charter, diversity that mirrors the district
Eva Moskowitz says that each of the charter schools she runs will always look exactly the same, from their robotics labs to their chess rooms to their classrooms filled with wooden blocks. There's just one significant difference at Upper West Success Academy, which opened this year on Manhattan's Upper West Side under a steady drumbeat of opposition from community members. “Our schools in Harlem and the Bronx are far less diverse,” Moskowitz said today, speaking to reporters on a tour of the first-year charter school. Enrollment at Upper West Success mirrors that of District 3, according to data provided by the school: The kindergarten and first grade student body is 35 percent white or Asian, 49 percent are black or Latino and 16 percent multiracial. About 40 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. English language learners make up 5 percent of students and 12 percent of students receive special education services, officials said. The racial and socioeconomic diversity of students at Upper West provides a stark contrast to the student bodies at other school in the Success Network in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, neighborhoods that have high concentrations of poor black and Latino residents. Moskowitz is hoping the diversity will attract parents in District 15, a similarly diverse district, to enroll at her network's new school next year. Seated in a kindergarten-sized chair in an empty classroom today, Moskowitz told reporters that she has been giving tours of Upper West Success to hundreds of parents from Brooklyn's District 15.
October 31, 2011
Moskowitz, protesters clash over proposed Brooklyn charter
Success Charter Network CEO Eva Moskowitz cut short a pitch to Brownstone Brooklyn parents Saturday after dozens of protesters interrupted her presentation. Moskowitz was holding an informational meeting at a public library about her newest school, which the Department of Education has proposed siting in a Cobble Hill building that currently houses two secondary schools and a program for severely autistic students. But the roughly 15 parents who said they came to learn more about Cobble Hill Success Academy, which would open next fall, were easily outnumbered by opponents of Moskowitz's bid to open a school in the area. Last week, the opponents said they planned to stand outside the Carroll Gardens library during Moskowitz's noon information session, but freezing rain drove them inside, where they distributed brochures criticizing Cobble Hill Success and charter schools more generally. Shouting, "We have information for parents also! This district doesn't have failing schools, it has successful elementary schools!" they interrupted a presentation made by parents from the Upper West Side school that was Moskowitz's first foray into a neighborhood that, like Cobble Hill, includes many middle-class families and high-performing schools. As the back-and-forth between audience members and presenters grew more confrontational, Moskowitz admonished the crowd.
October 28, 2011
Amid criticism, Moskowitz will introduce new Brooklyn charter
Success Charter Network head Eva Moskowitz is making her first public appearance in Brownstone Brooklyn—and as usual, she will be joined by protesters. Moskowitz is holding an informational session tomorrow to detail her plans for a new charter school that is likely to open in the affluent Cobble Hill neighborhood next year. Most of tomorrow's protesters are parents from the neighborhood, who say they are planning to attend the meeting to tell Moskowitz that the Success Charter Network is not wanted there. Opposition is also starting to rise from another group: School leaders in the Baltic Street building where the city has proposed to house the new school. The principals say they are nervous that the charter school's presence could derail their attempts to improve their schools. "We have had monumental success this year, and I'm concerned about how we can sustain that with another school added to the building, with the division of space," Joseph O'Brien, principal of the School for Global Studies, one of the three schools currently housed in the building, told GothamSchools last week, before the co-location plan was announced.
October 7, 2011
Cobble Hill parents say they would consider a charter school
Parents in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood say they're happy with their children's schools but wouldn't mind seeing a charter school move in. Charter school operator Eva Moskowitz yesterday announced plans to open a new school in the Success Charter Network in Cobble Hill, an affluent, tree-lined neighborhood whose public schools are flush with parent involvement and, in some cases, parent donations. It would be Moskowitz's second foray into a middle-class neighborhood after pushing through a contentious plan to open a school on the Upper West Side this year. In District 15, Cobble Hill's district, 1,500 parents signed a petition supporting the charter school's bid to open, according to a press release from Success Charter Network. But parents I spoke to today at a coffee shop and housing project in the neighborhood said they hadn't heard of Moskowitz and weren't aware that space-sharing was a likely scenario — or that co-location fights can turn ugly. Still, they said that the neighborhood could use more school options, no matter what they are. "If there's a good school set up in the neighborhood and has a program my kid would like, I'd consider it," said Madely Rodriguez, a P.S. 29 parent who was sipping coffee outside Cafe Pedlar, a magnet for neighborhood parents after morning drop-off.
September 28, 2011
Panelist's charter school link is criticized at 'Miseducation' event
Pedro Noguera and Karen Sprowal talk after the "Miseducation Nation" panel ended. Panel members at an event critiquing current school reform policies last night criticized testing, large classes, and charter schools — and also a university professor sharing the stage with them. More than 100 people filled a school auditorium in Manhattan to attend the four-member "Miseducation Nation" panel, which was convened in response to – and got its mocking namesake from – NBC's "Education Nation" summit, a two-day event that wrapped up earlier that day at Rockefeller Center. Pedro Noguera, an NYU professor who studies urban education, was invited to speak on the panel and for most of the evening, he was on the same page as his fellow panelists, historian Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, and teacher Brian Jones of the Grassroots Education Movement. They all criticized policymakers for adopting reform ideas that they said were not working – and ignoring alternative ones, such as smaller class sizes and culturally-relevant curriculum, that they said would improve schools. The panel also criticized the media coverage, which they characterized as biased toward current reform policies. The event was hosted by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, a national media advocacy group. "We feel beleaguered and we feel there is only one story told repeatedly in the mainstream media," Haimson said. More than 100 people, many of which were teachers and parents, packed into the auditorium at P.S. 66 School of the Future. When moderator Laura Flanders opened up questioning to the audience, criticism quickly turned on Noguera, a board member of the SUNY Charter School Institute, which oversees many of New York City's most prominent charter schools. Veteran teacher Michael Fiorillo first brought up the subject when he asked Noguera to explain how he could support opening charter schools, while at the same time being such a vocal opponent of closing the ones that they replace.
August 26, 2011
For your weekend pleasure, the entirety of 'On Education' panel
August 8, 2011
Some clues, many question marks in today's test scores release
For the first time in years, the state test scores set for release today are a big question mark. For many years, it was easy to predict that the annual test score announcement would be an occasion for state and city officials to point to gains. That pattern ended last year when state officials declared that the tests had been too easy and that the grading would change to raise the score needed for a student to be considered "proficient" in math or reading. For weeks before the city's average proficiency rate fell 26 percentage points in reading and 24 points in math, the public knew that a dropoff was coming. We have little warning about what today's news will bring. Last week, the New York Post reported that insiders at the State Education Department said the newest scores would show a small jump, about 2 percentage points in reading and 4 points in math. That would bring the percentage of city students rated "proficient" to about 44 percent in reading and 65 percent in math, far below the rates reached two years ago under the old scoring system. But comments made to Crain's New York by Success Charter Network CEO Eva Moskowitz suggested that not every school saw its scores increase. Comparing this year's scores to last year's, Moskowitz told Crain's, “I think you are going to be looking at a similar or potentially even worse situation." Schools have had their students' scores results since Thursday but were not allowed to share them publicly. Four things to note when the new scores are discussed today, first by state officials at 11 a.m. and later by Mayor Bloomberg at a press conference at city Department of Education headquarters:
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