District 17 -- my frustration mounts — Brooklynian

District 17 -- my frustration mounts

Yet another interesting charter school with priority for students in districts OTHER than District 17. I don't even want my kid to go to a charter school, but I am angry that this is another school where District 17 families are shafted. http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150306/downtown-brooklyn/more-than-300-kids-apply-for-just-155-spots-new-charter-school


  • This is good for us in the long run. Focus your energy on your zoned school, or your preferred D17 school.
  • edited March 2015
    Do we have any readers that know how a given district is chosen for a charter school?

    IE, does the charter school choose what district it wishes to locate in?     Or, is a charter somewhat randomly assigned space in a school within a district?

  • edited March 2015
    Charters get to choose their location. When you apply for a charter you have to indicate what district you want to serve and whether it is your intention to co-locate or to find commercial space. From what I've seen, charters tend to specify 1-2 districts where they would like to locate based mostly on what type of population they want to serve. So if you were looking for a racially diverse population, but wanted to avoid the possibility of a high population of free and reduced lunch (ie poor) students, choosing D13 with its hundreds of new gleaming apartment buildings erected in the last 10 years and large influx of young NYers would probably be a good bet. D13 is also a good place to locate commercial space, as there are plenty of landlords with either new build commercial space or older space looking to attract "better" tenants (yes, Downtown Brooklyn, I'm talking about you). 

    Schools only get to look at public school space if they indicate that either they are going the co-location route initially or if they are in need of "temporary" turnkey space while their permanent space is being completed. They are given a list of all the "available" space in the district and are then allowed to try to find the space that works best for them (ie. elementary schools tend to want to find space in elementary or middle school buildings, where they won't need a lot of retrofitting like bathrooms that are made little people sized, etc).

    ETA: @Crownheightster, just because there isn't a preference for D17 doesn't mean that a D17 kid won't get accepted. While the numbers  of applicants here are pretty high, I bet that at least some of the kids attending in yr1 will be outside the district.
  • edited March 2015

    So, until D17 and can look as attractive as D13, it will not be able to attract a good looking charter as a mate?

    At there any ways in which a desperate district can make itself more attractive to a charter quickly?  

    (ie.  Get the equivalent of a boob job, wear a shorter shirt and fish net stockings?) 
  • @homeowner -- very interesting! Thank you. 
  • Well, I'd say that schools looking for areas to locate often lurk on neighborhood message boards, FB pages and the like to try and get some insight into attitudes about charters. In neighborhoods like D17, there have been lot of public vocal support for charters generally (be they the highly structured or the more progressive types) from the black community and seemingly little to no support for the concept of charters from newer, younger, (and predominantly whiter) residents who are "pro-public" pretty much across the board with seemingly little space for consideration of charters as an option. So again, if you were looking to create a school that pulled from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups in an district, you probably wouldn't focus on D17.

    I think the same was originally true in D13, but as the neighborhoods that made up the district gentrified and gained more options (small independent schools, progressive or specially focused public schools, high performing charter schools, plus all the "regular" public schools) there has been more of a willingness for these new parents to look at some of the charters as being "good" for their children. Perhaps because the additional options take away the concern that others are being left behind, or perhaps because these schools are led by founders that are within their networks (for example the founder of the school noted above has an MBA from Columbia and worked at McKinsey &Co.) and so feel safer. So D17 will become more attractive when it's residents are more open across the board to all charters, or when they clamor for alternatives that are not highly structured and focused on using the same methods you'd use to train your dog to teach students. 
  • Anyone actually gotten a child(ren) into one of the charters, even if they were in another district?
  • This is the list of the charters that SED has approved to submit full applications this spring. One D13 school, two D21 schools for Brooklyn, the majority of the rest are throughout the city with two schools in upstate districts

  • Compass Charter (new to D13 this year) was originally seeking a home in D17. It was not very well received, so they ultimately landed in D13.

    Compass was started by some Community Roots teachers hoping to broaden their progressive reach. While that sounds great on the surface, D17 has been making great strides. A progressive charter would simply water down the parent support that is currently mounting at 705 and 316.
  • edited March 2015
    Depending on your perspective, it could also be phrased as "potentially giving the parents of 705 and 316 a place where they would likely experience greater success with less effort."

  • Or options for those of us zoned for crummier schools in D17.
  • But 705 and 316 are total inspirations. My friend was looking for an apartment, and when she found one zoned for 705, I was like 'you have to take it! Think about prek!'
  • PS 138 and PS 289 could easily improve to the level of PS 705 & PS 316 if a group of parents with kids who are starting pre-K in the fall of 2015 or fall of 2016 just banded together and approached the 138 & 289 principals and lobbied to get their kids the same pre-K class. Parent involvement (especially at the elementary level) really can turn a school around. 
  • As described previously, P.S.  9 was "improved" by similar methods in approximately 2006.

  • I think it can be a little more difficult to get a school to change in a particular direction than some comments seem to suggest.  There are a lot of curricular/disciplinary aspects of schools that many parents might dislike, and getting those changed can be hard.  One example is the "stoplight system" that many schools use for discipline - the kids are moved from green to yellow to red depending on behavior all day long and then at the end of the day are given an overall "color" for the day which is reported home.  A lot of less discipline-minded folks hate this system because it's essentially public shaming of the kids to get them to behave.  So say you have your group of 15 pre-k families in one pre-k class who don't like the stoplight system - is the principal going to throw out the stoplight system for the school because 15 new families don't like it? Same goes with approaches to learning (traditional vs. inquiry-based) and other stuff.

    Of course there are also principals who are willing to try to work with parents to change the school (316 and 705 might be like this, I have heard various things from people with kids at those schools).  I'm just saying that that change might be hard to come by depending on the principal, and even with a willing principal it might not happen as quickly as people would like.

    Also, a lot of people (myself included), while otherwise civic- and community-minded, don't have the time or expertise to devote to changing their zoned school.  My kid is at a public out-of-district G&T program, but if that hadn't worked out, I would've considered a charter if that was the best available option, even though I don't like charters from an ideological perspective.  When the rubber meets the road, I think almost everyone will do what they think is best for their kid rather than what's best for their ideology, and I would never fault anyone for doing that.

    Oh also, I think someone asked about getting into charters out of district.  Totally do-able but you have to do it from the waitlist which means prolonging the K uncertainty.  I know people who got offered spots at Community Roots and Brooklyn Prospect from out of district (also for out of district publics there are frequently spots at 261 - I know a bunch of people got spots from out of district this year during the first week of school).   
  • Good luck getting anyone at 138 to pick up the phone or call you back! I've had a very frustrating experience over the past two years.
    705 and 316 are different examples. 705 was a brand new school started by a progressive principal hungry for any parental support. 316 is a small school that had declining enrollment. Such a place is much easier to 'move the needle' in terms of parents involvement. 138 is a huge school with high enrollment. They have little need for new blood or new ideas.
  • I am a parent at PS 9 -- we're very happy there, but as a result of our charter school co-location I have learned a lot about charters, and I keep up on the charter applications in District 13.

    I wouldn't get too worked up about the "International Charter."  Although they seem to be spinning it as a progressive school for marketing purposes, they were very clear in their application process that they intend to follow Common Core Standards.  And that they will do so modeling an approach called Core Knowledge, which is a rote skills and facts-acquisition method that is in place at some low-income schools and positions itself in direct opposition to what most of you would consider to be "progressive." 

    That said, if you want to go there, you should apply.  300 applications is not that many for 155 seats, and many of those applications are from out of District 13 (they have a map on their website showing where the applications are coming from) and/or from parents who will have applied to multiple schools.  For comparison, last year Arts & Letters had something like 475 applications for 50 kindergarten seats, Brooklyn New School almost 1000, PS 9 over 600, etc.  With all the new charters in the past 3 years, as well as BNS, PS 133 and Arts & Letters, there are a huge number of "choice" kindergarten seats in our District.  And yes, I have heard of many people from out of district getting placements.

    About Compass Charter, they actually had a lot of support from D17 parents, but Bloomberg wanted them in D13 and made the space for it in D13 by shrinking an existing school.  The conundrum is that progressive charters do not do well on test scores for low-income kids, but test scores is how the charter industry pushes these schools as required for educational reform.  Take a look at Community Roots' test scores, or what has happened at Lefferts Garden Charter, to see what I mean.  Accordingly, progressive (or progressive-ish) charters are reluctant to locate in districts where they may not get enough affluent students to round out the poor test scores. 

    So, no, the charter system doesn't necessitate that the community wants the charter, or even that it actually serves the community once it exists.  To put it simply, it's not really about you, it's about what the charter people want.  Five years ago, there was still a pretense that charters should aim to serve families that were under-served, and should be representative of their district in terms of demographics.  But there was never any enforcement of that, and it is clear that the charters are now gunning for affluent families without much concern about the effects.  Brooklyn Prospect can open in D13 with a grand total of 9 (out of 75) economically disadvantaged children in a district that where 71% of our schoolchildren are economically disadvantaged and nobody blinks.  I have been told that Compass Charter is equally affluent. That kind of disproportionality is absolutely leaving kids behind and it will make it even harder for local schools to develop. 

    And since the charter facilities law was revised last year, there's no incentive for a charter to locate in less affluent areas.  The DOE has to pay a charter's rent wherever it decides to locate.  The demographics and geography of D13 make it much more attractive -- affluent D17 families will travel to downtown Brooklyn, but affluent downtown Brooklyn families will not necessarily travel to Crown Heights.  And how many kids in truly disadvantaged families are going to take a 45 minute bus ride to get to these brand new schools -- which typically do not have school buses or afterschool in the first year or two.  Relatedly, the executive director of a charter school now in D13 told me he could not request to be sited in East New York because his teaching staff would not agree to teach in a school in that area. I couldn't even begin to explain the meaning of that, but perhaps some of that apparent mindset would apply to parts of D17.

    I also want to say that I agree with heightsmom that you should be careful what you wish for, and if you at all have any inclination to be involved in something new and promising, please seriously consider any D17 schools that intrigue you.  No, it won't work for everyone, but it might work for you.  We now have so many charters in D13 that -- even though many of them are filled with kids from out of the district -- there is no space or money for our own D13 students to get new middle schools, which are desperately needed, or for our popular elementary schools to grow. 

    And as new charters open and are immediately far more affluent than the rest of the schools, they draw more and more resources (of all kinds) away from the public schools.  For me, one important consequence of this is that my children may have no real choice EXCEPT charters by the time they get to middle school.  I personally would prefer that the DOE have the space, funds and planning latitude to be responsive to district parents and work with us to create a diverse, solid middle school that can teach my kid algebra and truly prepare him for a competitive high school than to have to choose between some watered-down progressive school or a no excuses disciplinary environment.  Instead, the DOE is running around being forced to accommodate schools started by Upper East Side dads who are coming to Brooklyn to teach us how to be diverse.

  • Why does everything have to be so hard. *le sigh*
  • Part of the issue Maggie is pointing to is a long-term failure by DOE to engage in any real sort of planning. The demographic changes that are driving a lot of the D13 issues have been underway for the past 20 years (if you take the long view) and have accelerated over the past 10 years. That is a long enough time horizon to look at a district and say "these folks that are moving in here will need a middle and high school to send their kids to". However, rather than taking that view, DOE has simply been responding to the immediate need and not looking at the long view. New small public high schools (CTE focused) are being placed based on availability, not projected district needs. Ask how many green field schools (elementary, middle or high schools)  have been constructed in Brooklyn in the last twenty years and where are they located. Then look at what areas have experienced the largest population growth. Shocking that there is no correlation.  
  • @homeowner -- what is a green field school? 
  • I can't speak to what happened before Bloomberg but it seems like he did have a long-term focus -- it's just that it was entirely based on two reforms: small high schools (and closures to enable them); and charter/choice schools (and closures to enable them).  In D13 we have some district developments but responsive mainly to what the very most affluent demanded and/or to what Bloomberg wanted ideologically.  One result is that Arts & Letters and PS 8 are now K-8 schools.  Perhaps great for those schools but since they are the most affluent district elementary schools, all the most privileged kids funnel into their own upper schools that have few extra spots for any other kid.  In a 70% low-income district, without real planning, collaboration and leadership from the DOE, the rest of the middle schools will be extremely challenged to serve well the kids who enter performing at grade level.  I think De Blasio got stuck with a lot of this mess, but at the same time, the response to our requests for attention to the middle school prospects for our high performing K-5 kids has been frustrating and disheartening. 
  • edited March 2015
    Green field schools are entirely new built school facilities as opposed to the renovation of existing school buildings. There have been many new schools created. There have been very few new school buildings built. New buildings = additional seats. New schools = additional choice. Those two things are not the same. Maggie's comments seem to reflect that in that making Arts & Letter and PS 8 K-8 schools from K-5 schools resolves middle school issues for their students. It does nothing to meet the larger needs of the district as most kids don't leave but simply stay in the school they are happy with for middle school.
  • My big concern right now is that we seem to be moving closer towards segregated districts rather than further away. As of Monday, gone at Networks (based on school type and philosophy) and returned are superintendent control of geographically similar schools. Our city is segregated - our schools are the worst in the country. We need to get rid of districts and give choice to parents in the singular unified Department of Education. As parents apply the should rank their wants (like on a scale of 1-5 what are your priorities: progressive education, discipline, extracurriculars, test scores, whatever. Then the DoE could say, "oh, 40% of parents want progressive learning yet only 10% of our schools are progressive. We should change that." But it's a government agency so this is too forward thinking.

    Also want to add: with Cuomo now proposing teacher evals be based 50% (not the current 40%) on assessments and an additional 35% based on 1-time outside observations by non-educators I think traditional, top-down, test-prep programs are just going to expand. Someone who doesn't know teaching thinks quiet rows = more learning that messy debates. And if it means keeping a job or not, it'll have to be done.
  • edited March 2015
    @xlizellx You're right on the money there. I'm continually horrified how many decisions regarding education are made by those who know nothing about it. Many kids in quiet rows are going to learn less than many kids working in groups which are noisy. Also let us not forget that Cuomo stole billions from NYC schools whilst working to expand charter schools.
  • edited July 2015
    PS 138 and PS 289 could easily improve to the level of PS 705 & PS 316 if a group of parents with kids who are starting pre-K in the fall of 2015 or fall of 2016 just banded together and approached the 138 & 289 principals and lobbied to get their kids the same pre-K class. Parent involvement (especially at the elementary level) really can turn a school around. 
    Some parents are presently expressing their unhappiness with PS 289.

    For years, P.S. 289 George V. Brower School, a New York City public school, has been failing the children of Crown Heights. Thankfully many of these kids, mostly low-income African Americans and Latinos, have parents who are deeply concerned and are fighting for change.

    Despite social and economic challenges, they find time to speak up for their kids. And just days before the end of this school year, these Crown Heights parents decided enough is enough.

    With temperatures soaring past 90 degrees and a thunderstorm brewing, a few dozen parents from P.S. 289 gathered with handmade signs. They were nervous. They held out hope that the principal would somehow come around and listen to their concerns about the lack of quality teaching.

    These parents were disenfranchised, familiar with being dismissed and used to being treated as if they were the problem. Their goal was not to embarrass the school in the media but simply to march around the school and deliver a letter of demands. Unfortunately, they were met at the door by notably upset school staff, who insulted the parents and blamed them and their children for the decay of the school.

    And then, the school staff called the police.

    For quietly and respectfully protesting the quality of teaching and lack of response by the de Blasio administration to a school in ruins, the parents of P.S. 289 were met by the police. This, in a school that has lagged behind other schools in New York City, with just 30 percent proficient in math and only 1 in 4 children reading at grade level.

    In a school where many parents say their children are bullied, where they can’t get through on the school’s main phone line, where instruction time has been cut and where the principal has been largely dismissive of parent concerns, the school staff had the audacity to call the police on parents who expressed concern over these issues. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and no one was arrested.

    These parents didn’t just show up one day. They started, nearly a year ago, exploring ways to improve their school. They visited two other New York City public schools that were high-performing, high-minority and high-poverty. They took notes. They talked with principals and school staff who greeted them with respect and humility. They, the parents of P.S. 289, were interested in helping the school. They sat with the principal, who assured them that he would try to restore their faith in the school.

    The parents, whose children are assigned to a school that is historically and persistently underperforming, wanted better outcomes for their children. They wanted computers and books. They wanted displays of artwork in the hallways.

    They wanted teachers to be held accountable for the successes and failures of each student. They wanted progress reports so they could better understand how to help their children. They wanted the class time to increase. They wanted high expectations for their kids.

    They wanted their children to be in schools that valued them and their safety. They wanted the same thing every parent wants for their child, regardless of race, class or zip code—a quality education.

    All of us who work in public education should welcome committed, involved parents like the ones from P.S. 289, and yet they have been harassed by staff, kicked out of PTA meetings for speaking up, whisked away from auditoriums, hung up on by school staff, blown off by the superintendent and met by the police.

    This administration prides itself on tolerance and acceptance. The parents of P.S. 289 are asking for nothing less.

    I hope their concerns will be heard. I hope that their requests, big and small, will be met with viable solutions. Above all, I hope that the parents of P.S. 289—Jonathan and Xiomara, Cheryl and Jeanette, Angelette and Shannon—will finally get the quality education that every parent wants and every child needs.


  • Of course, this is a blog by StudentsFirst, which is the Michelle Rhee pro-charter advocacy network. So, there is some bias in what this blog post is setting out to achieve, methinks.
  • edited July 2015
    Charter schools know that whenever you have a changing neighborhood, with a (perhaps) under enrolled school, they have the potential to gain ground.

    ....after all, charter schools usually have far superior physical plants.

    As a result, their goal is not to recruit people who want to improve public schools, it is to find committed, educated parents who are ready to defect to charters.
  • fun fact: tenicka boyd, the students first employee who wrote that blog post, is a PS 321 parent.  yes.

    interestingly, the charter school that was the initial subject of this post failed to fill its first grade seats during its lottery. I can imagine many reasons why that could have happened, but it is notable.  do you think they may have "forgotten" to send their glossy brochures to the 11213 zip code?

  • edited July 2015
    Charter schools know that whenever you have a changing neighborhood, with a (perhaps) under enrolled school, they have the potential to gain ground.

    ....after all, charter schools usually have far superior physical plants.

    As a result, their goal is not to recruit people who want to improve public schools, it is to find committed, educated parents who are ready to defect to charters.
    their goal is also to get coveted real estate inside public schools. its all about money. 
  • edited July 2015
    Is there a reputable study that determines just how much more the average charter school is able to spend on the physical plant, as a result of paying staff less and raising more external money?
This discussion has been closed.