Streams

Success Academy Blitzes Cobble Hill

Thursday, January 05, 2012 - 05:39 PM

Cobble Hill residents strolling down Atlantic Avenue near Clinton Street this week can see a new bus shelter ad for a charter school opening in their neighborhood this fall. The Success Academy ad promotes its "proven record of success," and its hands-on approach to teaching with the slogan, "we teach science by allowing them to be scientists."

Households throughout the neighborhood also woke up on Wednesday to find their doors tagged with a colorful doorknob hanger with the words: "Apply Today! A New Public School Choice for You and Your Neighbors." The leaflet included the Web site for the elementary charter school and information about how to apply on the back.

A Success Academy spokeswoman, Jenny Sedlis, says the Brooklyn campaign is nothing out of the ordinary. It's just in a different location.

"We do parent outreach every year through direct mailers, bus shelters and other MTA assets, knocking on doors and holding info sessions," she said by e-mail. "In Brooklyn where we are not well known at all, this is the most effective and efficient way to get the word out about our schools and what we offer."

This outreach effort follows a vote in December by the Panel for Educational Policy, which allowed the Success Academy network to open two new Brooklyn schools in Cobble Hill and Bedford Stuyvesant. Many parents and education groups were opposed to giving the network more space in regular public school buildings.

The Success Academy's founder, the former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, previously focused on serving low-income communities mostly in Harlem and the Bronx. But her decision to create a school in Cobble Hill, following the opening last fall of another controversial school on Manhattan's Upper West Side, is part of her stated campaign to provide more choices for wealthier families, too.

Ms. Sedlis did not say how much the network spends on advertising. Like other charters, the Success Academy raises private money to supplement its state funding.

But Ms. Sedlis said all charters are forced to get the word out because they are required by state law to ensure that they give equal access to all families. A survey of 118 local charter schools by the New York City Charter School Center of 2011-2012 enrollment trends found more than half the charters engage in print advertising, and 10 percent air broadcast ads.

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