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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.
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 30, 2011
Brooklyn parents bring concerns to heated co-location hearing
Judy O'Brien, the librarian at two schools in the building the city has proposed for a new charter school, speaks against the co-location plan. (Video below.) Tensions ran high at the city's first charter school co-location hearing of the year Tuesday night as advocates and opponents of the city's plan to open a new Success Academy school in Brownstone Brooklyn packed the proposed site. Officials from the Department of Education and SUNY's Charter School Institute defended plans to add Brooklyn's third Success Charter Network school to a four-story Cobble Hill building that already houses three other schools, saying that the building has space for all four schools. The charter school would admit 80 to 90 kindergarten and first-grade students in 2012 and grow by one grade per year until becoming a kindergarten through 5th-grade school. According to the DOE official in charge of new schools, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, enrollment at the charter school would ultimately increase to somewhere between 500 and 640 students, and the total number of students in the building would climb to 1,400 or more. "That would bring the school to 108 percent occupancy," he said. In response, a member of the sometimes-rowdy audience who said he was a teacher and was later ejected by police after he shouted inappropriate words called out, "Where do you want the kids to learn, the bathrooms? Where do the other 8 percent go to class?"
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."
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.
August 16, 2011
In new comic, Spider-Man waits for Superman at charter lottery
Success Charter Network 2009 lottery. (GothamSchools Flickr) Excerpt from sneak peek of "Ultimate Spider-Man" #1, via Comic Book Resources. According to a new…
August 1, 2011
Matt Damon criticizes Eva Moskowitz's charters at D.C. rally
A contingent of New York teachers joined thousands of protesters from across the country in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to march against the Obama administration's education policies. Joining them was actor and budding philanthropist Matt Damon, who railed against "corporate reformers." In an interview with GothamSchools, Damon exhibited a familiarity with New York City education politics, criticizing co-locations of charter schools and district schools and calling out the Success Charter Network in particular. The march was the main draw of a four-day event called "Save Our Schools," which included a conference and a film festival. A coalition of more than 100 teachers came down from New York City, including groups from the United Federation of Teachers (this reporter embedded with a UFT-sponsored charter bus) and the Grassroots Education Movement. GEM also hosted a workshop at the conference and showed its documentary film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman to an audience of about 250. More than a dozen speakers - including Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, Deborah Meier - spoke at a rally that directly preceded the march. The lineup featured songs, performances, poem readings, in addition to a pre-taped message from The Daily Show host Jon Stewart (here's an excerpt).
June 23, 2011
Charter school backers decline offer to apologize to NAACP
A small window of opportunity to resume settlement talks between dueling sides in the charter school co-location lawsuit has been slammed shut. On Tuesday, an…
June 20, 2011
Charter supporters seek kindred spirit to succeed Bloomberg
A screen shot of the web site registered 9 days ago that touts Eva Moskowitz for mayor in its title. Two websites registered recently — one earlier this month — raise an intriguing possibility: Could a charter school leader jump into the next mayoral race? The website addresses tout Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Charter network, and Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy charter schools, for mayor. Neither site includes any content. The websites, EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com and GeoffreyCanadaForMayor.com, might reflect mounting concern among charter school supporters that Mayor Bloomberg's successor will not continue his level of support for charter schools. The nervousness may have increased when Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress last week. Of all the likely mayoral candidates, Weiner had appeared to be one of the more supportive of charter schools. "Personally, as a New Yorker, Bloomberg's successor has weighed heavily on my mind," Democracy Prep charter network founder Seth Andrew, who registered the URL touting Canada in December, said in an e-mail statement. "While I think Mr. Canada would be a great choice, we've never talked about it and he's made it publicly clear that he loves his day job." Andrew used his personal email and mailing addresses to register the Canada site. EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com was registered anonymously through a hosting service based in California on June 6, according to WhoIs.Net, which publishes records of web site registrations. Responding to a request for comment by e-mail, a spokesperson for Moskowitz said that she had never heard of the domain. "Looked into it. Don't know anything about this domain. Let me know if you find out who bought it," Jenny Sedlis, the director of external affairs at Moskowitz's charter network, wrote via e-mail.
June 8, 2011
NAACP's Dukes defends suit: "I'm not against charter schools"
Hazel Dukes, the president of the NAACP of New York, said last night on NY1 that she supports charter schools but wants equal conditions for children attending district schools. In a television interview last night, the president of the NAACP of New York insisted that she does not oppose the opening of charter schools or the closure of failing schools — even as she defended her organization's role in a lawsuit that would reverse planned school closures and slow charter school growth. Speaking to NY1 Inside City Hall host Errol Louis, Hazel Dukes said that she only wanted district schools to have the same conditions as charter schools, which she praised. "Let's make it an equal playing field," she said. "That's not hard to do. We can do that with the stroke of a pen." She added, "My motive is not to keep any failing schools open. My motive has never been to say that teachers who can't teach need to be in schools. My motive is two things: justice and equality." Hazel Dukes said she her goal wasn't to prevent charters from opening but that the process was hurried. The biggest effect, she said, was overcrowding in school buildings, which she said has a disproportionate — and negative — impact on district school students. "Mr. Louis, tell me why all children can’t have the same amount of library time. Tell me why all children can’t have access to a playground," she said. The lawsuit, which the NAACP co-filed with the United Federation of Teachers and a host of elected officials and parents, aims to halt the closure of 22 district schools and plans to co-locate 20 charter schools inside district space. City school officials have said that a victory could disturb high school admission plans for the fall, and charter school leaders have said that, without the city space that they were counting on, they would not be able to open schools that children already plan to attend.
May 26, 2011
In Harlem, charter school parents and students target NAACP
Students and families protested today in Harlem against the NAACP's involvement in a lawsuit against school closures and charter school co-locations with district schools. (Chris Arp) About 2,500 people rallied in Harlem this morning, calling on the NAACP to withdraw from its lawsuit with the teachers union against the city Department of Education. That lawsuit seeks to stop the closure of 22 schools as well as the placement of several charter schools in district school space. Speakers at Thursday’s rally included charter school parents and teachers, Harlem Children's Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada, and the actor Seth Gilliam from “The Wire,” whose child is a on a waiting list for a charter school. Speakers and attendees denounced the NAACP’s participation in a lawsuit they said would harm charter schools primarily serving students of color. "Ms. Dukes, turn your back on this lawsuit,” said Kathy Kernizan, the parent of a student at the Uncommon Schools charter network, referring to Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference. A letter to Dukes with signatures from charter school advocates was circulated through the crowd asking the organization to withdraw from the suit. A spokesperson for the New York City Charter Center, which helped organize the event, said that more than 2,000 signatures had been collected this week. “We gotta demand quality education,” Canada told the crowd. “We have to be prepared to fight for that.” The city Department of Education's proposal calls for two of the charter schools associated with the Harlem Children's Zone, the Promise Academy charter schools, to be co-located inside district schools. The charter center spokesperson said the protest, held outside the Harlem State Office building at 125th Street, was not the work of any one organization. But at least two groups appear to have taken leading roles: the charter center, an advocacy and support organization for charter schools in the city, and the Success Charter Network created by Eva Moskowitz. Many of the families at the rally had children at one of the Success network's nine schools. (Seven of the network's schools are named in the lawsuit.) Click here for a slideshow of photographs from the rally.
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