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Harlem Success Academy
March 23, 2014
De Blasio offers charter school mea culpa while still calling for change
In his first major education address, Mayor Bill de Blasio painted a picture of a system in crisis. De Blasio's first lengthy attempt to offer his vision for the city's school system included a mea culpa over his handling of some recent charter school decisions.
May 1, 2013
Garry Kasparov asks chess students to explain their work
As chess champion Garry Kasparov finished up his visit to the chess club at Harlem Success Academy I this morning, he posed a question for the three dozen students taking a break from their matches: How does chess help you in school? At first, the students struggled to answer Kasparov's question with the kind of specifics he wanted. One boy said it helped, but couldn't explain how exactly. Another said it helped him strategize, but came up short when pressed for more. Two girls said that chess helped them with complicated math problems and one boy said it helped him concentrate. Finally, a young girl's answer seemed to satisfy the grandmaster. "Chess helps me with writing because when you're writing an essay you have to reread your work just like you have to reread your notations," said Hawa Diallo, a fourth grader at the school, referring to the scoresheets kept during games. "Brilliant," Kasparov said. It's a question that Kasparov said is at the core of one of his life's goals since he retired in 2005 after spending nearly 19 years as the game's top-ranked player. Through his foundation, Kasparov has set out to grow chess by exposing it to younger generations and he said that one way to do that is to prove that developing chess curriculum in schools has long-term educational impacts for children.
June 22, 2012
Harlem parents protest against Success Academy co-locations
Protesters rally in Harlem against Success Academy, the controversial charter network. Parents and community activists protested in Harlem yesterday, taking turns to give speeches and heed warnings to schools that will soon share space with a controversial charter network. But unlike previous protests against the Success Charter network, the rally was significantly smaller. Noticeably missing were the politicians who came out to support a protest against the plan to bring a new Success Academy to the building where Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing Arts operates. Organizers said they didn't expect politicians or union to attend because they were busy dealing with last-minute city budget affairs and the close of the state legislative session. Instead, they said the rally was planned specifically with parents in mind – after state exams ended this week. “This is not a union rally. This is not a special interest rally. This is a parent and a community rally,” said Noah Gotbaum, a vocal education activist and member of Community Education Council 3. At yesterday’s event, approximately 50 protestors chanted “separate is unequal” and held signs despite in 95 degree weather at 110th Street and Fredrick Douglass Boulevard, just a few blocks from Wadleigh. A handful of children attended the event.
February 28, 2012
For opponents of mayoral control, fight starts with co-locations
District 3 CEC member Noah Gotbaum and Sonya Hampton, a parent from P.S./M.S. 149 and vocal charter school critic, lead chants against co-locations at rally. When the Bloomberg Administration threatened to shut down a school in Assemblyman Keith Wright’s district this year, Wright vowed to create legislation to repeal mayoral control of the schools. The city didn't go through with the closure, but Wright is making good on his word — at least to a degree — by introducing a bill that would chip away at one of the mayor's most controversial powers: the ability to install schools inside other schools' buildings. The bill would require elected parent councils known as Community Education Councils to approve any co-location proposal before it may go into effect. Co-location proposals often generate heated debate within districts, particularly when the city is proposing to move a charter school into a district building. The CECs regularly play a vocal role in opposing charter school co-locations within their district schools, but they have no power to stop them or any other co-location. Instead, the Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, must approve co-locations. Parents, politicians, advocacy groups and representatives of at least three CECs rallied infront of Department of Education headquarters this morning to show their support for Wright's bill, saying they hope it will pass because the CECs already must vote on zone lines within their districts. Co-locations were the only subject of today's rally; but according to Noah Gotbaum, a member of CEC for District 3, the CECs are hoping the co-location bill will be the first step toward legislation restricting the city's ability to close schools, and eventually leading to the outright end of mayoral control.
January 27, 2012
City plan to shrink Wadleigh draws vocal and official opposition
Ninth-grader Geronimo Miranda joins sixth-graders Ariyelle Ceasar, Tiane Jackson, Cheyanne Young and Nia Manerville in describing Wadleigh Middle School's positive qualities at a school truncation hearing Jan. 26. A who's who of elected officials and Harlem leaders turned out Thursday to defend the Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing Arts against the Department of Education's plan to close its middle school. About 200 parents, students, activists, and staff packed the school's auditorium Thursday evening for a public hearing on the proposal. Just before, officials who included City Councilman Robert Jackson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Sen. Bill Perkins, and Comptroller John Liu all held court in the packed lobby of the Harlem campus. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the city's NAACP chief, Hazel Dukes, also spoke at the hearing. They said the city was giving up on a neighborhood institution by moving to close Wadleigh's middle school. Jackson promised to call Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott today to air his opposition to the plan. Wadleigh's 440-student high school would remain open under the plan, as would another middle school in the building, Frederick Douglass Academy II, which narrowly escaped closure this year after earning an even lower progress report score than Wadleigh's middle school. A charter school, Harlem Success Academy I, is set to move its middle school grades into the building, according to a plan the city set last year.
June 27, 2011
Charter school advocates demand UFT apology but get debate
Charter school parents and advocates protest outside UFT headquarters today. Charter school parents and teachers took their fight against the UFT and NAACP's school closure and co-location lawsuit to the headquarters of the main group that filed it. About 250 people gathered this morning outside the United Federation of Teachers' Lower Manhattan offices to demand that the union drop the lawsuit, which would stop 16 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. They emphasized that some charter schools are set to start their school years in as few as six weeks but don't yet know where or if they will be opening. The protest was the first that specifically targeted the teachers union since the lawsuit was filed May 18. Last month, a much larger group of protesters rallied outside the Harlem headquarters of the NAACP, which joined the UFT in the suit. Protesters chanted a series of slogans for nearly an hour, at one point shouting "UFT: Apologize" for more than three minutes straight. The demand referenced a statement made last week by a union lawyer that he would not negotiate with charter school advocates until they apologized to the NAACP. UFT officials took a softer line today, handing out baked goods and hats emblazoned with the union's logo. Later, two UFT officials rolled a coffee cart along the side of the protest bullpen.
June 23, 2010
Dozens of city groups applied for federal innovation funding
The city's Department of Education, Teach for America and several city charter school management companies are angling for federal money designed to encourage cutting-edge educational strategies. They're among 145 New York State-based entities that applied for grants under a new federal program known as the Investing in Innovation Fund, or "i3." Details about the 1,698 applications submitted last month went online yesterday. Here's a snapshot of some of the ways local groups are hoping to cash in: The city is asking for $40 million to open 150 new small middle and high schools in the next five years. The city also asked for $5 million to grow the School of One technology program and $4.5 million to boost the arts in special education schools. Other groups angling to open new schools include Eva Moskowitz's Harlem Success charter network, which is seeking $25 million to open 13 in the next five years, and New Visions for Public Schools, which wants $26 million to create charter schools that serve 10,000 city students.
May 28, 2010
Brill-ing Down: Adding to Steven Brill’s NYT Magazine Report
Steven Brill's latest article chronicling the politics of the Race to the Top competition has caused a torrent of commentary. One contentious aspect of the piece is Brill's comparison of two schools that share the same building: Harlem Success Academy and P.S. 149. After Valerie Strauss picked up the statistics posted on the New York Public School Parents Blog, there has been much speculation about what types of kids are attending each school. Just how different are the populations anyway? To figure out the answer, I looked at NY State Accountability Report Cards, the Special Education Service Delivery Report for P.S. 149, as well as special education invoices provided to the UFT by the New York State Education Department. I chose these data sets because they seemed to be the most reliable and the most comparable. By "comparable" I mean that both Harlem Success and P.S. 149 have to submit to the state as part of their Accountability Report Cards data on students who receive free or reduced price lunch (an indicator of economic need), whereas, for instance, only P.S. 149 lists something known as the poverty rate (which is slightly different.) According to this data, Harlem Success Academy does appear to serve fewer needy students, both in terms of economic status, limited English proficiency, and special education needs. On the other hand, Harlem Success dramatically outperforms P.S. 149 on 3rd grade test results.
April 14, 2010
Harlem Success Academies lottery low-key, but high-tech
Yesterday evening, in a tiny room on the second floor of a Harlem school building, staff of the Success Charter Network of charter schools admitted 1,100 students for next year — in just over an hour. Charter school lotteries have a reputation for being emotional public spectacles. Last year, thousands of Harlem Success Academy hopefuls filled the Fort Washington Armory for what was part enrollment event and part political rally led by the network's controversial director Eva Moskowitz. But many charter school admissions decisions are actually computer-generated, made in private days or even weeks before names of admitted students are announced at public events in front of anxiety-ridden parents. And this year, Moskowitz's network, which currently runs four schools and is set to open three more in Harlem and the Bronx this fall, has quietly scrapped its boisterous public event. Instead, parents will be notified of the lottery's results by mail, online and through a phone hot-line next week. Success Charter Network spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis said the public event was abandoned because the sheer number of applicants — nearly 7,000 for 7 schools this year — would overwhelm organizers and because of tighter school budgets this year. Leaders of the network may also be feeling camera-shy this year after a winter of intense public scrutiny of charter schools and accusations that Moskowitz's schools benefit from favoritism from Chancellor Joel Klein. Yesterday, Matt Zacks, a software programmer from the educational data software company InResonance, peered at a large computer monitor filled with tables and lists of names. A smattering of Harlem Success staff, parents and visitors munched pizza and watched over Zacks' shoulder as he moused and clicked through the lists.
March 1, 2010
We read the Moskowitz/Klein e-mails so that you don't have to
Joel Klein and Eva Moskowitz at the Harlem Success lottery in April 2009. (<em>GothamSchools</em>) There's a lot more than school siting and closures in the 77 pages of e-mails between Chancellor Joel Klein and charter school operator Eva Moskowitz. The e-mails, obtained by the Daily News, include a little bit of news — such as that Bill Clinton considered weighing in on the charter schools fight — and a lot of insight into the way Klein and Moskowitz think about the politics of education. We've read every word of the 150+ e-mails and have collected the highlights below. A PERSONAL CHALLENGE: Moskowitz puts her expansion goal in personal terms, in an April 2007 e-mail to Klein: "I plan to be educating 8,000 of your children by 2013." SHE DIDN'T LIKE THE TWEED WORKFORCE, EITHER. We know that district school leaders and parents often clashed with Garth Harries, the Tweed official who for years led efforts to insert small schools and charters into their buildings. Now we learn that Moskowitz fumed at him, too. On May 16, 2007, she praised a new Department of Education official, Tom Taratko, to Klein. "He got done in 2hrs what garth could not accomplish in 9 months," she declared, adding, "look out for him and hire more!!!!!" The more typical Tweed worker she describes this way: "maddening sluggishness and people afraid of their own shadows." POLITICKING FOR EXPANSION: In July 2007 Moskowitz described to Klein how she and her main financiers, John Petry and Joel Greenblatt, shored up support for her application to open three copies of the original Harlem Success Academy. They courted New York State Republican Committee chairman Ed Cox, who was at the time chairman of SUNY's charter board.
February 10, 2010
East Harlem parents pre-emptively organize against charter school
Some East Harlem parents aren't waiting to find out whether a charter school will move into their school building before organizing against the possibility. Parents at the Manhattan East School for Arts and Academies recently got wind that the Department of Education was considering placing Harlem Success Academy 5, one of three new charters Eva Moskowitz plans to open next year, in their building. The plan would call for Manhattan East to move to another building across the street to create space for Moskowitz's school. The founding principal of Manhattan East, Jacqueline Ancess, said that the DOE did not tell the school that it could be moved; rather, the current principal and parents association head found out that a move was under consideration at an unrelated DOE meeting "by accident," she said. Ancess and the school's parent association responded by sending out a letter yesterday asking parents and supporters to call the city's information hotline today to ask the city not to relocate the school. "Manhattan East is a very successful school," the message urges parents to tell the city. "Moving Manhattan East from its home is unconscionable."
July 30, 2009
More Equal than Others
Overcrowding comes to city schools for various reasons. In my school, our reputation makes kids want to come, we have magnet programs like JROTC that attract kids from near and far, and there's never been a cap on enrollment. Neighborhood schools like PS 123 don't get the opportunity to grow and expand because other schools are simply placed into whatever vacant spaces they may have. In fact, as Juan Gonzalez reported, space they'd actually been using was commandeered by a charter school chain. It now appears Eva Moskowitz's Harlem Success Academy will be taking that space permanently. PS 123 has gone from an F-rated school to a B-rated school, and you'd think that would merit some encouragement from the Department of Education. You'd be mistaken. Rather than expand upon the progress they've made, the building that houses PS 123 has become a civics lesson for all who teach and study there—a newly designed two-tier education system. 55 years ago, Brown v. Board of Education stated, “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." At PS 123, separate educational facilities can be found within the same school building. In fact, some families have one kid in 123, and another in HSA. But it's pretty clear to all that the schools are different. For one thing, all HSA classrooms are painted and renovated before kids even attend. A few weeks ago, protesters questioned why the whole school couldn't be painted, rather than just the HSA section. You have to wonder why an administration that prides itself on placing “children first” would allow so many children to be second priority.
July 8, 2009
Harlem lawmakers push for neighborhood-focused charter cap
Protestors at P.S. 123 yesterday applauded lawmakers pushing for limits on charter schools in Harlem. Eva Moskowitz, the C.E.O. of the Success Charter Network, was a particular target. (Photo screenshot from video below.) The next front for the Harlem school wars could be Albany. City Council member Inez Dickens yesterday proposed changing the state law to cap the number of charter schools that a single operator can open in a given school district. She was speaking at a protest against the Success charter school network's expansion into a traditional Harlem public school, P.S. 123. Dickens said she had the support of state Sen. Bill Perkins, and Keith Wright, an Assemblyman representing Harlem, said he would introduce legislation to make that change on his side of the legislature. A neighborhood- and operator-specific cap would add to what exists now, a cap on the number of charter schools across New York state at 200. There are 1,500 public schools in the city. Such a cap would also squarely challenge the strategy the Success Charter Network has pursued of opening a large number of charter schools in a designated area; Eva Moskowitz, the network's CEO, has said her goal is to open 40 Harlem charter schools in the next 10 years.
May 8, 2009
Harlem Success, unionized charter score high as more data flows
The data on city schools' English Language Arts scores keeps churning out. The Department of Education has just published Excel files sorting scores by school, grade level, special education status, gender, race and ethnicity, and English proficiency from 2006 to this year. A spokesman says that figures on charter schools are on the way. In the meantime, here's a document from the state charter school lobbyists with every charter school in the city's proficiency rates. In New York City, charter schools out-performed traditional public schools on the test, and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein congratulated the schools on the high scores today at a press conference in Manhattan. Among the top scorers are two charter schools we've followed here: Harlem Success Academy 1 in Manhattan, notable for its founder, Eva Moskowitz, who has regularly challenged the role of teachers unions, and Renaissance Charter School in Queens, notable in part because its teachers and administrators are represented by unions.
May 4, 2009
More students qualify for gifted programs; DOE credits outreach
A chart produced by the Department of Education that shows the number of children qualifying for gifted programs in each district, compared to last year. Nearly 50 percent more incoming kindergartners scored high enough on two nationally normed assessments to be eligible for a seat in a gifted and talented program, according to data released today by the Department of Education. The percentage of test-takers who qualified also increased, from 18 to 22 percent. The jump in participation shows that the standardized procedures the DOE established last year for admission to gifted programs are gaining traction, DOE spokesman Andrew Jacob told me today. "It reflects that families are more familiar with the way we're running the admissions process," he said. The increased number of students eligible for gifted programs could be seen as a feather in the cap for the DOE, which has said it wants to expand access to gifted programs to children citywide, particularly in communities that have not had robust gifted programs in the past. Jacob told me the department this year ramped up its outreach to prekindergarten programs in districts where too few children took the tests and scored high enough last year to warrant opening programs. "We wanted to find as many children as possible in the city who could meet the standard that we set," he said. In terms of sheer numbers, some of the biggest gains happened in districts that already enroll many children in gifted programs, including the districts comprising Staten Island and most of Manhattan below 96th Street.
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