The New York City Department of Education has put forth proposals to:
• Allow Eva Moskowitz’s “Success Academy” into the Southside’s Middle School 50 (JHS/MS 50), and
• Close Roberto Clemente School (PS19) elementary school.
Since these proposals have been issued without community involvement or direction, we the residents of School District 14 (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bed Stuy and Bushwick) agree that the DOE’s decisions will have a negative impact on our neighborhoods, specifically the Latino community in its longtime, iconic home of Los Sures (The Southside).
We further object because:
• Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies spent $900,000 on advertising, direct mail and canvassing last year alone. In Williamsburg, they have exclusively targeted the wealthy pockets of the neighborhood. There has been no targeted marketing or outreach to the Southside Community Schools Coalition (SCSC), whose children will be most affected by the closings, or our city councilwoman, Diana Reyna.
• Success Academies has already violated laws regarding how charters advertise, stating that Success Academy Williamsburg WILL open in fall 2012 instead of stating the legal requirement that it is a PROPOSAL ONLY.
• The DOE’s rationale for co-locating Success Academy Williamsburg in the same space as MS 50 is that it will increase building utilization. Yet in their proposal, it states that once Success Academy is at full capacity (in 3 years), it will only increase building utilization by 4-14%.
• The DOE has put forth no plan for accommodating the children who currently attend PS 19. The "selective attrition" policies that have been practiced in Success Academies existing schools will not be favorable to our community, which includes a diverse mix of cultures and recent immigrants. We believe that English Language Learners (ELLs) and those with individualized educational needs deserve an education that is equal to every other student, and specialized based on our community’s needs.
• The DOE’s records show that elementary schools in the neighborhood surrounding the proposed co-location site are already operating with underutilized space. Further, these are well-regarded, desirable public schools that are supported by the community. What we desperately need is a quality, A+ rated middle school.
• There is increasing evidence and awareness that charter schools do not improve student achievement or future outcomes for children.
• Studies show that charter schools actually make neighborhoods less desirable, fracturing communities, creating competition and division, and causing a decline in property values.
• Success Academies' chief funders are partners in Gotham Capital, a hedge fund financed mostly by notorious junk bond trader Michael Milken. The board of directors is populated almost exclusively by hedge fund managers and investment bankers. We do not trust the people responsible for the Great Recession with the serious responsibility of caring for the children of our community. Their reckless behavior has demonstrated that we cannot trust our DOE funds to be managed by them.
The effort to locate Ms. Moskowitz’s school in the Southside’s MS 50 is has no educational merit or benefit to our community.
We demand that the NYC Department of Education REJECT the proposal to co-locate the Success Academy Charter School in M.S. 50; that the Department engage the Southside Community Schools Coalition (SCSC) in their decision-making process; and that any RFP resulting in a new school or school expansion include a 1-year planning process before full implementation.
The parents, educators, residents and children of District 14 schools, as well as the participants of Occupy Williamsburg and Occupy the DOE, demand a collaborative process for determining the future of the children of PS 19 and the M.S. 50 building.