New York Post
More great schools: Even good neighborhoods can gain with charters
By D.B. Rosenstein
When I was growing up in Florida, we lived in a neighbor hood with great local public schools. I never realized until now just how lucky my parents were.
As a mother of three, I feel strongly that it shouldn't have to be so difficult to access a great school for your children. I am thrilled to hear that my neighborhood is getting a new option: the Upper West Success Academy, a public charter school.
Many families across New York City move to the Upper West Side because it is home to some of the best public schools. My husband and I decided to move our family to the zone for PS 87, one of the top schools in the city. We wanted our children to have the opportunity for the high-quality public-school experience that both their parents had.
But the same week we signed the contract on our apartment, we learned that school-zoning changes were in the works -- and we'd likely wind up outside the new PS 87 zone.
While I'm a believer in public education, I also believe parents need choices. Right now, parents only have choices if they have the ability to pay for private school or to move to a better school zone (inside or outside the city). This shouldn't be the case -- not on the Upper West Side or anywhere.
Every family should have access to great public schools, and that means creating more great schools. I am thrilled that Upper West Success Academy is slated to open in August in our neighborhood.
I originally learned about the Success Academy schools from the documentary "The Lottery," and recently had the opportunity to tour Harlem Success Academy 4. I was unbelievably impressed by how engaged the children are and the quality of the teaching.
It is comforting to know that there is an accountability measure. The Success Charter Network gets thousands of teacher applicants and is free to hire the best, compensate them well and let them go if they are anything less than excellent.
Like all mothers, I want teachers who are passionate about being teachers, and about their subject matter and about their students. I want teachers who teach values like kindness and respect for others and who set a high bar for my children and challenge them to excel.
I believe that these teachers are in the public schools, but there are not enough great schools with enough capacity to serve every family in the neighborhood. I applied for one of my children to the Upper West Success Academy because I believe it's going to be an excellent public charter school that will attract the best teachers and help bring change by creating another high-quality public-school choice for local parents.
And apparently I'm not alone. In less than six weeks, I'm told, the parents of nearly 500 children have signed up for a spot in Upper West Success.
That kind of parental demand proves that this school is exactly what this neighborhood needs.
D.B. Rosenstein is a resident of the Upper West Side and a mother of three.
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