Monday, June 15, 2009

Charter School War at PS 160, Co-op City

Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) members Angel Gonzalez and Pam Garrison went up to Co-op City to support the parents and teachers at PS 160 who are fighting off the imposition of a charter school in their building. The original application for the charter was for District 11, which does not have as much of a middle class population to draw from as District 12 with Co-op City. So they are trying to switch horses in midstream. Talk about creaming.

Equality Charter School at P.S. 160, Bronx

by Pam Garrison
June 11, 2009-- A Equality Charter School revision
meeting took place at P.S. 160 in District 11 - Bronx where changes to its charter proposal for its placement at this Co-op City zoned elementary school were to be discussed. Equality Charter School plans to open with 132 sixth graders and eventually would become a 6th-12th grade secondary school with a total population of 414 students. Instead of a discussion on the proposed revisions, the meeting, with close to 100 people including young students, generated a raucous and sometimes hostile exchange over whether this Charter Middle School should be placed at PS 160 at all.
The announcement of the placement
of the Equality Charter at PS 160 caught many off guard and has divided the community as well as the PS 160 PTA. Its co-president, Mona Davids, who now also heads a newly created Citywide Pro-Charters Parent Association, rallied speakers in favor and an audience who displayed pro-Equality Charter signs whenever opposition voices spoke. Co-president Sebastian Ulanga, has organized against this siting of this Equality Charter here and spoke along with others against the lack proper consultation, misinformation (Equality had been processed for District 12), the negative impacts of middle school youth on PS 160 younger elementary and the special education students. While the pro-charter speakers voiced excitement about the expected higher attention, resources, and smaller class sizes with the Equality Charter there, opposition speakers expressed anger that the projected benefits would not be for the entire school population and create disparity.

Grassroots Education Movement member, Angel Gonzalez, spoke abo
ut the need to fix instead of privatizing our schools with charters. “We need to support quality and democratic processes for all public schools. Charter schools, such as Equality Charter, split communities and sow inequality instead. They ‘cream the best students’ and evidence shows that charters service fewer percentages of the neediest of students such English Language Learners, Special Education and the poorest of the poor. We need to organize a citywide fight-back against the mayor’s undemocratic imposition of these charters that take away resources from public schools. Charters union-bust and undermine the necessary unity parents and teachers against government’s failure to properly provide for all public schools.”

Jeffrey Litt, the Superintendent of this Carl Icahn Network of Charter Schools (which includes Equality Charter), expressed his support for the placement of Equality Charter at PS 160 while simultaneously engaging in a tense verbal exchange with an audience member who opposed the charter and Mr. Litt’s assertions. Mr. Litt claimed that Icahn schools do service the poor and are not exclusive, but PTA’s Mr. Ulanga interjected that any entry-lottery process for selecting students are exclusive.

Revisions to Equality’s Charter were presented at the beginning of the meeting. These included some administrative and staffing changes along with its placement now in District 11 instead of District 12. At the end of the meeting, many audience members were unable to determine the actual revisions that were being proposed – they were never restated for many who had arrived late. The meeting, which was adjourned in a particularly abrupt manner, appeared to do little to alleviate the fears, concerns and questions of many audience members. The rift, that this Equality Charter School has spawned, left many confused with many unanswered questions.


highclass said...

I didn't approve charter schools at first, but now they seem very efficient/

KitchenSink said...

Um, fact check: charter schools are PUBLIC, not PRIVATE.

It's written into the state law.

(Even if that doesn't mean much in the Albany circus these days.)

Private SUPPORT doesn't mean private SCHOOL.

It's public AUTHORITY that counts.

And charter schools are created by the NEW YORK STATE BOARD OF REGENTS.

That's the board that governs public schools.

ed notes online said...

I've heard this line before from apologists for charter schools. They take public money (and school buildings) and put it under private control with no public oversight. Thus Eva Moskowitz can make $370,000 a year while taking over public buildings. And a billionaire like Steinhardt can dare to claim his HLA charter couldn't find adequate space and had no choice but to try to force themselves into a public school.

Much of the charter school movement is a scam to skim public money and place it under private control so that our taxes end up paying exhorbitant salaries.

Anonymous said...

Equality was approved because of their charter according to this Regents document online at


1. They approved it because it was supposed to be in District 12. They specifically said Crotona Park (page 2)

2. The founders, Joanne Murphy and Margaret Hoey have started other charter schools according to their bios and experience (page 4 & 5). Well, why didn't they tell anyone at all the hearings that they've started another charter school - Opportunity Charter School in Harlem and that they were removed by the board one year later. Is it because they were removed by that charter schools board because they were running it poorly and the kids were failing? Hell Yeah. That's why after they were pushed out of that school they founded 3 years ago they had to go back in the public school system and work again. Now, they trying to open up another charter when in the first one they failed and were terminated by that charters board.

3. Why are they trying to make their board be 40% controlled by them (page 7)? Is it because they want to make sure that when they are failing again in Co-op City they can't be fired and removed by the board like at Opportunity Charter? They trying to stack their board again. Why isn't there any parents on their board or community leaders? That's because they know they're not qualified and have already failed at another charter school they founded!!!!

4. The Regents approved their charter because they said they got community support from District 12 - 143 parent signatures that want the charter school (page 9-10). Well, that's NOT District 11 or Co-op City parent signatures!!! They must go back to District 12. We don't want or need these failed charter school founders, Joanne Murphy and Margaret Hoey in Co-op City. All the people they say they met with are in District 12 - NOT DISTRICT 11 OR CO-OP CITY!!!!! They haven't met with ANY Co-op City community leaders.

5. They say the DOE held a hearing on Wednesday, October 8 (page 10) and no one objected to the charter school. Well that was DISTRICT 12, NOT DISTRICT 11 AND NOT CO-OP CITY!!!

Joanne Murphy and Margaret Hoey failed and were removed by Opportunity charter school they started in Harlem after just one year. They are FAILURES!!

Why is the DOE forcing Joanne Murphy and Margaret Hoey, WHITE women on Co-op City, a minority community of blacks and hispanics?

Why is the DOE forcing 2 FAILED SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS on PS160, a grade A school run by 3 black school administrators?

Why is there NO ONE from Co-op City gonna be working at the charter school?

They want to steal money from Co-op City schools for their school and their paycheck but they didn't hire anyone from Co-op City!!


LQuinlan said...

Anonymous, You had me until you brought race into it. I have not yet researched your claims that the charter was proposed for one district and being placed in another but if what you're saying is true, I don't understand how they get away with it. I'm not sure how the applicant's past history will impact your case though I would think it certainly should. All of this was reason enough to push this charter school to the curb. Keep race out of it if you want to be taken seriously.

I wish you luck- maybe if we put up enough of a fight every time they try to open yet another charter school that drains money from the system for an elite group of kids, they'll finally take us seriously.

Anonymous said...

First of all, it is important to correct that Equality Charter School is not part of the Icahn Schools network, as reported in this article. We are independently run and operated, without a network above us. Jeffery Litt was simply kind enough to come out and support a fellow charter.

Equality Charter School's population is currently 21% students with disabilities, and includes a wide demographic of students and families. Over 400 families have applied for the school, showing a huge amount of support in the District 11 and Co-op City communities.

As to other charges, we have weathered being coupled with rapists in newspaper articles, our students have been labeled drug dealers and "250-pound thugs," and now straight-out lies about our character and our experience are being perpetrated.

Character assignation and defamation is refuge of the weak. Our families and students, fortunately, are strong.

Anonymous said...

To The Previously Listed and Posted Anonymous: The author of this article does not defame your character or that of your students in any kind of way. If anything, the author has merely reported the actual happenings of an event at P.S. 160. Thus, if you have problems with the things that have been reported in other articles by other authors, then you should address these concerns in the appropriate venue or forum.

proofoflife said...

We have been hit with a charter! Two weeks before school is over and it has not been officially revealed to our parents or staff. The charter will be grades K. 1 and 2 smack dab in the center of our MS. This is a very , very dangerous situation. BF strikes again!

proofoflife said...

NONE OTHER THAN ICAHN! Stupid me, I thought it was icon!

Anonymous said...

My child is attending Equality Charter School in the fall. It's interesting that everybody keeps saying that Equality Charter School is not wanted in Co-Op City when 40% of the students going to the school are from Co-Op City. You should have seen how many of us there are. THat's why the public hearing last week was FILLED with SUPPORTERS of the school. You people obviously do not do your homework or talk to the people of the actual community. We have no good middle school choices in District 11 which is why most of us send our students to PRIVATE SCHOOL! Equality is giving us the opportunity to actually send our children to a quality middle school.

As for the administrators, I've met them and I'm 100% confident in their abilities. And one of the founders of Equality was a teacher at Opportunity so why don't you get your facts straight before publishing lies.

Anonymous said...

I live in Community School District 11 and Equality Charter Schools SERVES THE ENTIRE DISTRICT NOT JUST COOP CITY.

Why don't CoOp City people get off their high horses already. There are NO GOOD MIDDLE SCHOOL CHOICES for our children. Stop being so selfish when PS 160 is 50% underutilized with 15 EMPTY classrooms.

Anonymous said...

There are good middle schools in Co-op City and District 11. Those of you who say that there aren't any such schools are not telling the truth. Moreover, I am pretty sure that those "15 empty classrooms" are in full use. All of the pro-Equality Charter School people seem to forget that such classroom space is probably used for occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision service instruction, and SETSS/resource room services. These rooms are also probably used for adaptive PE, Dean services, and a SAVE room environment. Thus,in the final analysis, I have to say that what I have witnessed at the charter revision meeting for Equality is a whole bunch of Equality parents who are only concerned about their own children and not the children of others, which is quite sad because the fact remains that the black and Latino communities would not be in the position of having in the year 2009 a black U.S. president and a Hipanic woman nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court if these communities had traditionally took on the "elitist,snob" attitudes of the majority of the Equality parents.

Anonymous said...

Icahn will not be entering into a middle school in the fall. They will be temporarily housed in a school with children in grades K-2, ages 4.5-6.5 years old, for 10.5 months. Icahn is in the process of building their own buildign that will house Icahn III, IV, and V.

Charters in NYC cost 0.01% of the total school budget and receieve only 70% of the per-pupil funds that a child brings to a public school. Even with 30% less revenue, charter schools are out-performing local results.

Equality Charter School parents, by the way, are African American, Latino, from many countries in Africa, Vietnamese, Tamil, Bangladeshi, Pakastani, from Yemen, Carribean, and represent many other multi-ethnic mixes. We are proud that such a diverse mix of families from CSD 11 have joined together as one, and confused as to why such a rainbow of families would be a threat to anyone.

We look forward to partnering with P.S. 160x, Co-op City, CSD 11,and New York City to provide another option for middle school students.