school for international studies

Not always a cakewalk

New York

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.
New York

Brooklyn parents bring concerns to heated co-location hearing

New York

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." 
New York

Proponents of Cobble Hill pre-K: We have "grassroots" support

Parents and elected officials speak out in favor of a plan to open an early childhood center instead of a charter school. A day before a public hearing about a space-sharing proposal that would bring the Success Charter Network to Brownstone Brooklyn, advocates of an alternative plan took to the street to promote their idea. The counter-proposal, made after the Department of Education announced it had chosen a Baltic Street school building for the charter school chain's newest outpost, would use the space instead for a preschool. Success Charter operator Eva Moskowitz suggested in the New York Post today that the counter-proposal came from the teachers union in an attempt to block her school from getting space in the building. That's "absolutely not true," said Jeffrey Tripp, the UFT chapter leader at the School for International Studies, one of the schools in the building, at a press conference today. He said the preschool proposal is supported by a "grassroots movement." "I'm proud to be a member of the UFT but this [alternate proposal] is not something the UFT was behind," he said. The plan — for which DOE officials say no application has yet been received — was first floated by a retired DOE official and a local politician in response to the DOE's plan to site Cobble Hill Success Academy in the building that International Studies shares with the School for Global Studies and a special education program. It's also being supported by the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group. The dust-up has AQE, which typically advocates against school closures and co-locations on the grounds that they are unfair to poor and minority students, in the position of supporting a preschool program that would likely serve many affluent families.

system of schools

New York

In portfolio of schools, a struggle to be neighborhood’s choice

For Principal Fred Walsh, every student counts. That's because his school enrolls fewer students than the Department of Education says it should. With this in mind, Walsh tries to begin each school day by shaking hands with each student who walks through the doors of the Brooklyn School for International Studies, and, ideally, end them shaking hands with prospective parents from Cobble Hill's elementary schools. In addition to handshakes, Walsh shares with local parents promises of the school's growing elective programs in journalism and culinary arts and, for the first time this fall, polished brochures touting those programs. Walsh says his dogged efforts to sell International Studies to Brooklyn families are necessary but also distracting from the task of running a school for fewer than 500 students. They highlight an unintended side effect of the Bloomberg administration’s “system of schools” in which high school and many middle school students select their schools: Few schools are many students’ first choice. And when too few students enroll, schools end up being saddled with students who made no choice at all. That’s the situation that Walsh is trying to head off. At a time when most local parents are choosing to send their children elsewhere, Walsh is working hard to bring attention to his mid-performing neighborhood school. His attempts have ranged from the ambitious (building a state-of-the-art kitchen) to the bluntly pragmatic (hiring a public relations consultant). But competition over students and Walsh’s old under-the-radar approach has caused the school’s enrollment to yo-yo and, over time, decline by nearly 10 percent since it opened with 512 students in 2004. The decline signalled trouble to the DOE, and opened the doors to increasing numbers of high-needs students. And the small boost in enrollment the school saw last year—from a low of 445 to 481—might be too little too late: Next year the school is likely to be joined by a new Success Academy charter school in the squat, four-story building on Baltic Street it already shares with two other schools. Last month the Department of Education identified the Brownstone Brooklyn building as the prime site for the charter school because both International Studies and the School for Global Studies, the school upstairs, have many more open seats than students in grades 6 through 12 to fill them. That means, the DOE says, that there is room in the building to spare. Before the announcement, Walsh said he worried that both schools would have to increase class sizes and cut programs once they start sharing space with the charter school, which would open with 190 kindergarteners and first-graders next fall and slowly grow into a full-sized elementary school after that. And even though International did not make the city's list of potential closures this year, community members say they are worried that the DOE could close or move it in the future. The only way to escape the pressure, Walsh said, is to raise International Studies’ profile.
New York

High schools market themselves with information and cookies

To attract the attention of the thousands of eighth-graders and family members at this weekend's citywide high school fair, representatives from the city's 500-some high schools pulled out all the stops — bringing current students dressed in nurse's scrubs or cheerleading outfits and stocking their tables with custom pens and homemade cookies. Some administrators who staffed the tables lining the hallways of the first seven floors of Brooklyn Technical High School aimed to inspire students to consider careers in health, law enforcement, or the culinary arts. Others faced higher stakes: To convince families to take a chance on an under-the-radar school. Because the Department of Education uses enrollment as a factor in deciding which schools to close, schools that attract few applicants could face dire consequences. Sheepshead Bay High School Geri Riley, a teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, passes out pamphlets and cookies to families. Sheepshead Bay High School's teachers drew families to their booth with homemade chocolate chip cookies. "My sister made them. I don't know if it's the cookies or interest in the school, but we're doing well," said Geri Riley, the Advanced Placement government and economics teacher, as parents stopped to eat and learn about the school's various specialized learning academies. Riley said enrollment at the school, which tops 2,000, is on the decline. This year, the school is undergoing "restart," one of four federally mandated strategies for low-performing schools, and a nonprofit partner is taking over its management. School for International Studies Sean Ahern, one of two culinary arts teachers at Brooklyn's School for International Studies, turned heads in his chef's uniform and hat as he passed out brochures. His job was twofold: to sell families on both the culinary arts and on his school, which is struggling to keep enrollment numbers up and even recruited a public relations firm this year to help convince families to send their children.

decision 2008