Thursday, January 8, 2015

DOE Suddenly Cancels Success Academy Hearing Tonight - Community to Hold Own Forum

Like McDonalds, SACS simply assumes that they can open their franchise and sling their burgers anywhere... Liz Rosenberg
...at 6:38 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7th, the Department of Education sent an e-mail stating: “In light of the fact that the DOE is not planning to site a school in District 1 tomorrow’s hearing has been cancelled.”  To date, Success Academy has not rescinded its request to change its application to School District 1. If elected officials do not receive said written notice before the scheduled press conference, community leaders will hold a forum to allow parents and community residents an opportunity to provide their comments.

Nothing surprises us when it comes to the machinations going on around Eva and Success Academy. Was it too itty bitty cold tonight? I'm going to be there and I'm old and cold.
Since SACS [Success Academy Charter Schools] switched locations virtually overnight, it had no language in its proposal specific to District 1; it failed to make the case that District 1 has “limited options” or had a “compelling need” for it. Like McDonalds, SACS simply assumes that they can open their franchise and sling their burgers anywhere. But of all the districts in the city, District 1 is even more sure than most that they do not want or need a Success Academy. ...comment at NYCpublic.org
Below the announcement I've included a great article called: District 1 Deserves A School That Matches Their Vision (Not Success Academy) by Liz Rosenberg


***MEDIA ADVISORY*** WITH LESS THAN 24 HOURS NOTICE, DOE CANCELS SACS PUBLIC HEARING

Advisory_ SACS_ 1 8 15
MEDIA ADVISORY                                                                                   January 7, 2015
Contact: John Blasco [Councilwoman Rosie Mendez] 212-677-1077, jblasco@council.nyc.gov
Lisa Donlan [President, CEC1] 212-353-2946, lisabdonlan@hotmail.com

WITH LESS THAN 24 HOURS NOTICE, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CANCELS PUBLIC HEARING ON SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL’S APPLICATION FOR A “NON-MATERIAL” CHANGE

With Little To No Notice to Community Residents and Elected Officials, Department of Education Cancels Long Awaited Hearing.Community To Move Forward With Its Own Forum


WHAT:          Press Conference immediately before the scheduled and now cancelled public hearing on Success Academy Charter Schools’ application for a “non-material” change to move its charter application from School District 2 to School District 1.
WHEN:          Thursday, January 8th, 5pm
WHERE:       In front of P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School (166 Essex Street between East Houston & Stanton Streets)
WHY: Success Academy Charter School was previously approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees’ Charter School Committee for a new charter in School District 2, but has since applied for a “non-material” change to move their charter to School District 1. Under current SUNY policies, there is no public hearing required before this “non-material” change, since it takes place within the same borough. However, following advocacy by Council Members Chin and Mendez, SUNY has now agreed to take public comments from the School District 1 community before deciding whether or not to approve Success Academy’s “non-material” change.
However, at 6:38 p.m. on Wednesday, January 7th, the Department of Education sent an e-mail stating: “In light of the fact that the DOE is not planning to site a school in District 1 tomorrow’s hearing has been cancelled.”  To date, Success Academy has not rescinded its request to change its application to School District 1.
If elected officials do not receive said written notice before the scheduled press conference, community leaders will hold a forum to allow parents and community residents an opportunity to provide their comments.
####


http://www.nycpublic.org/impactory-2/successcomments/my-two-cents-on-sacs-in-district-1/

District 1 Deserves A School That Matches Their Vision (Not Success Academy)

On January 8th the New York City Department of Education will hold a hearing regarding the Success Academy Charter School slated for District 1 in Lower Manhattan. The school was approved despite clear community opposition and despite an eleventh-hour application change that many see as a violation of the charter proposal process. I will be delivering the following testimony at that hearing.
It is not news that Success Academy Charter Schools (SACS) is slated to open 14 new schools in NYC over the next two years, but it is news that one of those schools will be in New York City’s District 1. At the last minute, SACS asked the State University of New York (SUNY), one of two New York state charter authorizers, to change the location of the school it had originally stipulated for District 2. This might not sound like a big deal, but in New York charter applications specify that the applicant demonstrate that “the proposed school is located in a community with limited options” and that the proposal shows “a compelling need for the school.”[1] Since SACS switched locations virtually overnight, it had no language in its proposal specific to District 1; it failed to make the case that District 1 has “limited options” or had a “compelling need” for it. Like McDonalds, SACS simply assumes that they can open their franchise and sling their burgers anywhere. But of all the districts in the city, District 1 is even more sure than most that they do not want or need a Success Academy.
With anger directed toward the Success network coming from many places across the city, how can I make such a strong statement about District 1? Because, unusually, Community Education Council 1 has invested much time and energy in understanding what type of school program their community would like to see.
Last January, District 1’s Community Education Council partnered with my organization, NYCpublic, to hold a “Community Engagement Lab.” (You can see the lab in action here.) Participants in the Lab, whose stated purpose was to determine what the community might want in a new school, came from progressive and traditional schools, from the co-ops and from the public housing developments and middle-income Mitchell Lama buildings nearby. They included representatives from central NYCDOE, local teachers and administrators–and, of course, parents.
By the end of the one-day lab, which consisted of guest-speaker-hosted “learning sessions” and highly structured brainstorming exercises, participants had come to consensus around and developed a set of “building blocks” that should be inherent in any future district school. These “building blocks” addressed:
  • Configuration – Lab consensus was for a pre-K-8th grade Spanish-English dual language school, with tracks for both general education and dual language. There would be options for middle school (6th grade) entry also.
  • Community Integration – Lab participants wanted a school that would be integrated with the community, providing the community with a sense of ownership. The school would act as a community hub, sharing its gym (in a neighborhood with precious few), parent center, and health clinic. It would engage local community-based organizations for after-school programming and other supports and partner with local organizations, museums, and institutions to offer programs in school and via field trips.
  • Leadership – The selection of the first instructional school leader would happen early in the process of planning, designing, and building the new school to ensure that the building, instructional curriculum, teachers, and school community reflect community values. District 1 residents and parents would be part of selecting the school leader in a participatory and authentic process.
  • Curriculum – Lab participants asked for a curriculum that would create opportunities throughout the year, at all grades, for multidisciplinary, integrated instruction; would develop forward-thinking skills, such as STEM/STEAM; would prominently feature social-emotional learning; would prioritize play at all grade levels; and would provide students with a real opportunity to influence what and how they learn.
  • Teaching Staff – Participants were eager for a school which would support and cultivate master teachers and give those teachers some say in the allocation of budget items.
  • Student Assessment – Lab attendees looked forward to a school that would allow students to demonstrate their mastery of content through non-traditional evaluation (exhibits, portfolios, discussions, presentations, etc.), in the process bolstering confidence and independence.
Most of these “building blocks” are the polar opposite of Success Academy’s school design. Via the Community Engagement Lab, District 1 has created a model for a school that will support all of students in the district, including a dual language program and social emotional curriculum. Success Academy, on the other hand, has a well-documented history of not meeting charter school enrollment requirements for English Language Learners and special education students. They are known to counsel out poor testers, or students who struggle to meet their rigid code of conduct. They do not refill their seats once those students have left. (This is one of the reasons that SACS is now being audited by the comptroller.)
Success Academy Charter Schools are cookie-cutter versions of the same school, each with the same pedagogical model. They are not responsive to the community-based organizations and cultural institutions in their midst, something that District 1 residents clearly prize. Test prep is a huge part of the curriculum at Success Academy–yet this community is asking for a school that focuses on alternative methods of assessment and a deep rich curriculum that may or may not align with standardized tests. Further, the school that District 1 envisions supports teachers and makes sure that they feel empowered as essential leaders in their school. Success Academy has a famously high turnover rate and a reputation for a dictatorial leadership style.
The list of incompatibilities could go on and on, but there is one more reason why Success Academy is wrong for District 1. This reason goes far beyond this one network of schools. We tax-paying New York City residents deserve to have a say in what public schools come into our communities. SUNY’s rubric for approving charter schools allots one point out of 64 total points to community engagement. Given that Success’ District 1 proposal was written for District 2, there is no way that they should get even that one point on this topic.
Though some District 1 parents might welcome a Success Academy, those same parents might also welcome the school envisioned by their fellow community members. This week our fight is to assert one District’s right to determine what types of schools are planted in its community.
Let this week’s hearing continue NYC public school parents’ fight to control which schools get planted in our communities. The broken process for approving charters, one that would completely discount a community process like the one described here, must be stopped.
The District 1 community wants much more for their kids. Sign their petition now. You can also go to this page to write to charter approver SUNY about why you do not want to see a Success Academy in District 1. Even better, you can share what you would rather see grow in your community instead.

Liz Rosenberg
[1] From the SUNY Preference Scoring Rubric in their January 2014 RFP

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