Streams

Thumbs Up for Success Academy's Move Into Brownstone Brooklyn

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 08:07 AM

The Twitter posts coming out of Newtown High School in Queens on Wednesday night depicted a lively meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, but for those of you who were not following along, let us cut to the chase: The Success Academy Network of charter schools will be moving into Brooklyn.

Amid insults and accusations, as Fernanda Santos puts it in The New York Times on Thursday, from a boisterous crowd, the panel voted to allow Eva S. Moskowitz's charter network to move into an existing school building on Baltic Street in Cobble Hill that is now occupied by three schools, the Brooklyn School for Global Studies, the School for International Studies and a program for students with disabilities.

The panel, which is the legislative vehicle for City Department of Education decision-making, also approved a Success Academy charter for Bedford-Stuyvesant, as well as a third charter school from another network for that neighborhood.

According to The Times, busloads of opponents were brought in by the teachers' union, including many parents and educators from the schools in the Baltic Street location, who argued that children in those existing schools will be squeezed by the addition of the charter:

Jeff Tripp, a math and special education teacher at International Studies, disputed the department’s analysis, saying the building’s gym was so overused that high school students had a hard time meeting graduation requirements in physical education. Lunch in its sole cafeteria starts at 10:30 a.m., he said.

“Our students spend hours in the building and for many of them it’s home,” Mr. Tripp said. “What you’re proposing is a home invasion.”

Supporters of the charter schools said middle-class parents needed choices, too. But The Daily News reports:

About 100 people signed up to speak at the Wednesday night meeting at Newtown High School in Elmhurst, but most of the audience walked out in protest after about two hours of public comment.

“Shame on you!” shouted the protesters, many of whom oppose charter schools because they believe the facilities contribute to inequality in the city’s schools.

The Success Academy Cobble Hill will open in August for children in kindergarten and first grades, and over the years will expand through eighth grade.

Were you at the meeting? What were your impressions? Share by responding to the query below.

In other news, Jenny Anderson reports in The Times that Jane Foley Fried, the dean of admission and assistant head for enrollment, research and planning at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., will become the Brearley School's 15th head of school. Brearley, an all-girl private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, searched for six months and considered 100 candidates before making the choice.

And remember Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's assertion that 82 percent of the nation's public schools would fail this year under No Child Left Behind standards? And President Obama's repeat of the assertion to win support for changes to the federal standards? Turns out the figure was way off.

A new study by the Center on Education Policy, "a Washington research group headed by a Democratic lawyer who endorses most of the administration’s education policies, says that 48 percent of the nation’s 100,000 public schools were labeled as failing under the law this year," Sam Dillon reports in The Times.

Asked why the Education Department’s projection was so far off, Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for Mr. Duncan, said, “Our intention was to look thoughtfully at the data and show how the law would impact schools and students if left unchanged.”

The high figure was the Obama administration's ultimate argument in favor of issuing waivers that allow schools more time and leeway in achieving greater proficiency in math and reading in students. According to The Times: "Eleven states have applied for the waivers. An additional 28 states have said they intend to apply; applications for a second round in the waiver process are due in February."

Also in The Times, Jenny Medina reports from California that officials there have found a way to help middle-class families who are feeling the squeeze of rising college tuition costs.

The University of California, Berkeley, announced Wednesday that it would offer far more financial aid to middle-class students starting next fall, with families earning up to $140,000 a year expected to contribute no more than 15 percent of their annual income, in what experts described as the most significant such move by a public institution.

The article continues:

At Berkeley, officials said, the number of low-income and wealthy students has grown over the last several years, while the number from middle-class families has remained flat. That has raised concerns that some of the state’s best and brightest are choosing private schools whose generous financial aid can erase differentials in sticker price or not enrolling at all. The cost of a year at Berkeley has risen sharply to $32,000.

WNET's new local news and culture online magazine, MetroFocus, has an article about art organizations getting into the business of education across the city: "Surprising Schoolyard Pals: NYC Arts Orgs Trend Toward Education." Lots of interesting examples.

Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine post has a more complete roundup of what's in the news about education on Thursday morning.

Here is some of what is going on in education in the city on Thursday:

From 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., children from the Urban Assembly Academy of Arts and Letters in Fort Greene. Brooklyn, "will transform themselves into young engineers, showcasing their new expertise in Robotics through a Sumo Robot match."

"These students," the academy's announcement continued, "have been mentored by Google employees over the past year and this event is the culmination of that mentorship. The project was part of the Citizen Schools Expanded Learning Time initiative that serves over 800 students in six public middle schools across three boroughs," a news release says.

And from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the New York City Parents Union will hold a meeting to discuss "changing N.Y.S. Education Law and the N.Y.C. School Governance Law (Mayoral Control) to give parents and communities real power to participate in decisions regarding school closings, truncations and co-locations proposed by the N.Y.C. Department of Education." The meeting will be at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street. You must R.S.V.P. by e-mail to admin@nycparentsunion.org or call (917) 340-8987.

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