NY Daily News
Success Academy Charter School must be given available space in upper West Side HS building
The Panel for Educational Policy will write a new chapter in the history of the school wars tomorrow with a vote on allowing one of the city's best charter operators to open shop on the upper West Side.
This one is easy: Of course parents and children in Manhattan's District 3, including those who happen to be white and middle class, deserve the same range of options that parents and children in other, less privileged neighborhoods are increasingly getting.
The panel must permit the Success Academy Charter School to occupy vacant space in the old Brandeis High School building.
The standard for giving any new public school space should be consistent: If there's demand for alternatives, if the school promises high quality and if there's room, it should be welcome. Success Academy passes the test in a walk.
While there are incredibly good schools in the immediate neighborhood, they are also extraordinarily hard to get into. All have long waiting lists. Public School 163 is so crowded, two kindergarten classes meet in trailers.
And the new charter wouldn't serve only those families; it would admit kids by lottery from across the city, but with priority given to those in District 3 - an area that has many elementary schools that aren't nearly good enough. Thirteen of the 20 received a D or F on the student-performance portion of their school report cards last year.
Compare that with the record of achievement at Success Academy schools. At the network's flagship campus, 86% of the students scored at or above grade level on the state English exam last year, and 94% of the children did as well in math.
That school, smack in the middle of Harlem, outscored all the rest of the District 3 elementary schools - even those in affluent neighborhoods - but two. And one of those is the highly selective Anderson School, where prospective students must take a test to gain admission.
Little wonder the new proposed charter has gotten 600 applications for its first 90 seats.
The famously liberal upper-middle-class parents on the upper West Side ought to be applauding such an academic upgrade. But a small, vocal group shouts that it's not needed, not wanted.
First, they drove Success Academy out of sharing space at Public School 145.
Then they quashed plans to locate it in the building with PS 165.
Now that plans have shifted to the Brandeis building, opponents have not a leg to stand on. Perpetually dangerous and failing, Brandeis will be completely phased out next year. In its place have opened four small high schools. Success Academy would join them, taking up nine classrooms in a building that as of November had 67.
So, welcome this charter to the neighborhood. Then make room for more.
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