Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Supporting Brandeis HS

Noah Gotbaum, chair of CEC 3 on upper west side writes in response to article below:

I completely disagree that the parents and Community are not coming out in support of the Brandeis Complex schools and against the attempted eventual take-over of the building by Upper West Success Academy. CEC3, the Parent Associations of 25 D3 schools up and down the district - including all 5 schools inside Brandeis - Community Board 7 (unanimously! see link http://www.dnainfo.com/20110105/upper-west-side/controversial-charter-school-gets-thumbs-down-from-uws-community-board), and most of our elected officials including Brewer, O’Donnell, Duane, Mark-Viverito, and Perkins have come out en masse against this.

On January 25 District 3 parents, teachers, electeds, and community members from Harlem to Lincoln Center will rally at 5 pm in front of Brandeis on West 84th between Columbus and Amsterdam to support all of our district schools and the “choices” we have – and against Upper West Success, and the two additional proposed Success Charter expansions at PS 149 and at Wadleigh. We will then move inside the Brandeis building to continue to speak out in favor of our district schools and against UWSA at the EIS co-location hearing scheduled for 6 pm.

This is a district-wide effort and includes pushing back as we did last night against the Success Charter middle school expansion proposed for PS 149 and Wadleigh Secondary. Again, see link.


We hope that those interested in supporting public education will join us at the Success Charter 1 Middle School Co-location EIS public hearings at PS 149 (1/20) and Wadleigh (1/24) and then at the school support rally/Brandeis EIS hearing on the 25th.

Controversial Charter School Gets Thumbs Down From UWS Community Board

January 5, 2011 6:01pm4commentsshareprint
Upper West Side parents worry sharing space with a new charter school could hurt the new Frank McCourt High School.

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Controversial Charter School Gets Thumbs Down From UWS Community BoardA bus shelter ad for Upper West Success Academy, the charter school that could open inside the Brandeis High School building on West 84th Street. (DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht)

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — Upper West Siders battling a charter school that wants to open in their neighborhood sent another strong message of disapproval Tuesday as Community Board 7 voted against a city plan to put Upper West Success Academy into a public high school building.

The community board has no power to change the situation, but the vote marks another chapter in the controversy surrounding Upper West Success Academy's move to the Upper West Side.

Charter school officials say the new school will provide high-quality public school options for families in one of the city's most crowded districts.

The charter school has attracted 584 applicants.

The Department of Education wants to put Upper West Success Academy inside the Brandeis High School building on West 84th Street, which is already home to five high schools including the neighborhood's newest, the Frank McCourt High School.

The high school, named for "Angela's Ashes" author Frank McCourt, was a pet project of local officials including City Councilwoman Gale Brewer. They worry that if Upper West Success Academy moves into the building, Frank McCourt High School won't have room to grow.

Controversial Charter School Gets Thumbs Down From UWS Community BoardSome Upper West Side parents are worried about a plan to move a charter school into the Brandeis High School building on West 84th Street. (DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht)

Brewer spoke passionately Tuesday about her fight to open Frank McCourt High School, a project that required $22 million in renovations to the Brandeis building, she said. That investment would be jeopardized if Upper West Success Academy moves its kindergartners into the building, Brewer said.

The Department of Education says there's enough space in the building for the new school. A DOE report says the building is "under-utilized," and has 300 seats available. Brandeis High School is in the process of closing and will be phased out over the next three years.

Critics claim Success Charter Network, the group of schools that includes Upper West Success Academy, has a poor track record of sharing space with existing public schools.

Success Charter Network officials have said that's not true. At a Community Board 7 meeting last month, spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis said horror stories about existing public schools losing space to charter schools were exaggerated.

"The stories in the media tend to be a handful of people who are upset that may not reflect the entire community," Sedlis said last month.

At Tuesday's Community Board 7 meeting, a teacher and social worker from P.S. 241 — which shares space with a Success Charter Network school — repeated their claim that since the charter school moved in, they've had to move existing public school students into basement classrooms next to the boiler room.

"I serve some of our neediest children in a closet," said P.S. 241 social worker Darren Marelli.

The Department of Education's Panel for Educational Policy is scheduled to vote on whether to move Upper West Success into the Brandeis building at a Feb. 1 meeting.

Success Charter Network officials didn't attend Tuesday's Community Board 7 meeting and did not comment directly on the community board's vote.

In an e-mailed statement, Sedlis said "residents of this community are voting with the feet and demanding another high-quality public school option for their kids."

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110105/upper-west-side/controversial-charter-school-gets-thumbs-down-from-uws-community-board#ixzz1AjtHA2rV

Public School Parents Protest Harlem Success Academy's Expansion Plans Updated 3 hrs ago

January 10, 2011 8:44pm Updated January 11, 2011 6:21am1commentshareprint
Sojourner Truth School would lose space to Harlem Success Academy.

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Brianna Cordova Holding SignSojourner Truth School second grader Brianna Cordova, 7, showed her opposition to Harlem Success Academy's planned expansion. (DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe)

By Jon Schuppe

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Parents and teachers came out in force Monday night to protest a plan that would allow a Harlem Success Academy charter school to expand into classrooms already occupied by traditional public schools.

Most of the protesters represented Sojourner Truth School, which shares space with Harlem Success Academy on West 118th Street and would lose classrooms to the charter school.

In a public hearing that turned raucous at times, parents said their kids were already treated as second-class citizens. They complained of children being crammed into morning lunch periods, crowded out of stairwells between classes, and reprimanded for straying into charter school hallways.

"How much more space do they have to take, and why do my children have to suffer?" asked Tavia Turner, a mother of four Sojourner Truth students.

The city’s proposal would allow Harlem Success Academy, now a K-5 school, to add a sixth grade next year by taking more classrooms at the West 118th Street building. Then, in the 2012-2013 school year, Harlem Success Academy would expand into the seventh and eighth grades and create a new middle school to house its top four grades. That school would be located at a different building, on West 114th Street, which currently houses Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing Arts and Frederick Douglass Academy II.

Crowd of protesters against Harlem Success AcademyParents and teachers of Sojourner Truth School students came out in force against Harlem Success Academy's expansion plan. (DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe)

Representatives of Wadleigh and Frederick Douglass Academy, located at 149th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, also said they opposed the plan.

The hour-long hearing was held in the West 118th Street school’s auditorium, which was decorated by Sojourner Truth supporters with posters that said "We need our space" and "Would you let someone kick you out of your school?"

Harlem Success Academy representatives said they were trying to be good neighbors and touted students' performances on standardized tests.

"We want to continue to serve this community and continue to be an option for the people of this community," said Jenny Sedlis, director of external affairs for the Success Charter Network.

The organization's widening network of charter schools has become a lightening rod for controversy as the Bloomberg Administration tries to replace failing schools with more charters.

Hallway Signs Protest Harlem Success AcademyThe hallways of Sojourner Truth School were decorated with messages against Harlem Success Academy's expansion. (DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe)

The Harlem Success Academy schools have been acclaimed in documentary films that tout education reform. And they have been attacked by critics who accuse the organization of undermining traditional public schools. The network's proposed expansion into the Upper West Side has also met stiff resistance.

At Sojourner Truth, representatives of the local school leadership team and district council said the Department of Education didn't provide sufficient public notice of the meeting. They suggested they might submit a legal challenge.

Sojourner Truth teachers wore yellow armbands that read "Save our School." They accused Harlem Success Academy of rejecting children with behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

Parents of children from Harlem Success Academy challenged those accusations, saying they saw no evidence of it. The crowd responded with jeers.

People on both sides urged more civility, noting that their students all came from the same neighborhood.

Sabrina Williams, parent of a child at Harlem Success Academy, said she hoped the warring sides would "find middle ground…where all of our children will be able to perform at the highest levels."

A second public hearing on the plan will be held Jan 24 at the Wadleigh building. A vote on the plan by the city’s Panel for Educational Policy will be held Feb. 1.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110110/harlem/public-school-parents-protest-harlem-success-academys-expansion-plans#ixzz1AjpGJEvG

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