Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network co-locations have been battling with and squeezing public school kids out of their buildings at PS149, PS241, PS123 and across the city and turning district school children into second-class citizens in their own buildings. Now she and the DOE want to continue this separate and unequal system by co-locating their new Upper West Success Elementary School at the Brandeis High School Complex, and to expand Harlem Success 1 Middle School at PS149 and into Wadleigh Secondary.
Supporters of the rally and against the Success Charter co-locations included almost every District 3 elected official including Congress Members Jerald Nadler and Charles Rangel, State Senators Tom Duane and Bill Perkins, Assembly Members Daniel O’Donnell, Linda Rosenthal and Keith Wright, and City Council Members Gale Brewer, Inez Dickens, Robert Jackson and Melissa Mark-Viverito. The rally also drew the support of the Mid-Manhattan NAACP, 25 District 3 School Leadership teams and Parent Associations, as well as the unanimous endorsement of Community District Education Council 3 (CEC3) and of Community Board 7, which voted 40-0 against the co-location of Upper West Success in Brandeis.
United States Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “The Department of Education’s proposal to locate the Upper West Side Success Academy on the Brandeis High School campus is clearly the result of poor educational planning and a failure to listen to the community’s needs. The planned co-location will do nothing to address the pervasive overcrowding in our public schools, or to improve any schools that may be struggling. Our goal is for all parents to have the option to send their children to an excellent public school. I am proud to have supported the recent award of federal grant dollars to District 3 to build on the success of the district schools and improve the diversity and quality of schools within the district. We should continue to focus our energies on supporting the growth and improvement of our traditional district schools. Diverting space and resources from the recently-established impressive high schools on the Brandeis campus is not an answer to the needs of District 3 parents.”
“As the Assembly Member representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it is my obligation to view this plan in the context of our community’s challenges and needs. As we continue to work toward alleviating District 3 overcrowding, the installation of an Upper West Success school at this location would be counterproductive to this goal. I am also deeply unnerved by the prospect of placing children as young as four years old alongside high school students as old as 18 or even 20. This concept displays the poor judgment involved in choosing this site and poses obvious safety concerns in a school where all who enter must pass through metal detectors.”
State Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell said, “The decision by the Department of Education to co-locate The Success Academy at Brandeis High School is deeply troubling. Not only is this siting in violation of the intent and spirit of the law, as the community was not properly notified in advance, but it also raises serious concerns about allocation of resources and the availability of space for our public school children.
“If implemented, this co-location has the potential to interfere with the growth and success of the schools already thriving at the Brandeis complex. DOE is obligated to give our public school students what they so richly deserve: careful planning that accounts for a district’s ever-changing needs, ensures adequate space for all, and avoids siting decisions that have the potential to divide families over valuable resources. DOE has failed once again in this regard.”
New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer said, “DOE, parents, and the school community successfully recreated Brandeis. The students at our new high schools are striving and growing together in their shared space. We've worked very hard for years to achieve this, including major investment, new principals and teachers, and the unique Frank McCourt High School, a real top-notch addition to our great West Side schools. An unprecedented $22 million dollars in City capital investment, and thousands of hours of work by DOE, my office, and the school and parent community has given these young adults a chance to grow minds and bodies in a renewed, diverse, and harmonious setting. It's time to let our investment in these students, and this school, grow and prosper. It is not the time to shoehorn a large elementary school into the same building with four small high schools.”
Opposition to this proposed co-location has focused on several areas:
Tara Rinaldo, 2nd Grade Teacher at PS149 said, “HSA does not have self contained Special Ed classrooms nor do they accept students who need those services. Just because students in HSA have IEP's, that does not make them Special Ed. We take and educate ALL students. We all deserve the same quality education.”
Gay Zacerous, Speech Teacher at PS149 said, “The co-location of a charter school and a community school within same building, the community school having inferior facilities and reduced quality of services, has adverse psychological impact on our children and is 'separate' and 'unequal'. This may very well be the civil rights issue of our time.”
Toya Carter, Pre K Teacher at PS149 said, "Due to the expansion of Harlem Success my Pre K class, which is given limited use of its own playground, does not get their ample time to work on their mandated gross motor skills. I ask this question, is it right to take away from one child to ensure another child's education."
Criticism of the Success Charter model includes charges that they force or encourage learning disabled and academically at risk children to leave the school to boost the school test scores.
"My son was accepted into HSA#3 Kindergarten class in August of 2008 through lottery selection,” said parent Karen Sprowal. “After only days of attending I was asked to find another school for him due to his lack focus in class. When I refused he was suspended for disruptive behavior and lack of academic focus at the age of 5! It was truly a emotional taxing ordeal, and only after he asked me on our walk to school "is today the day HSA is going to fire me" that I transferred my son to P.S.75.”