In A Blow To The City’s Littlest Learners, Success Academy Forced To Cancel Pre-K Program Next Year
June 1, 2016
Contact: Dan Bank, (212) 681-1380
Mayor de Blasio Chose Bureaucracy Over Families Who Demand Great Pre-K Options — Forcing Outraged Parents to Suffer the Consequences
Lawsuit Continues in New York State Supreme Court, but Ruling Won’t Be In Time For Success to Run Pre-K in 2016-17
New York, NY — Success Academy announced today that the network must cancel its extremely popular pre-k program for the 2016-17 school year. The decision follows nearly a year of stonewalling by City Hall, which continues to demand sweeping and illegal powers to control nearly every aspect of the program’s design — despite Success Academy’s 10-year track record of closing the achievement gap and clear lines of accountability to its authorizer, the State University of New York.
“It is unbelievably sad to tell parents and teachers that the courts won’t rescue our pre-k program from the mayor’s war on Success in time to open next year,” said Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz.
In response to this decision, parents of those children accepted into Success Academy’s pre-k program for the 2016-2017 school year wrote an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio to express their disappointment for turning his back on their kids.
Success Academy currently runs pre-k at three schools in Harlem, Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, and had planned to expand the program to two additional locations next year. About 3,000 children were entered into the admissions lottery. Parents are now left to scramble for alternative arrangements.
“I’ll probably have to do a lot of work with my son at home — over the summer and at night — to ensure he doesn’t already have an educational deficit at the early age of 3,” said Jacqueline Banegas-Abreu, whose son was slated to attend pre-k at Success Academy Cobble Hill next year.
The city’s refusal to allow Success Academy to serve pre-k children provoked a wave of outrage from families. Pierre Delsoin, a Bronx father of two whose daughter attends Success pre-k this year, created a petition to save the program. More than 36,000 parents signed it.
Families didn’t stop there. Twenty-four parents joined a lawsuit, which is ongoing in New York State Supreme Court, to save pre-k. They are joined by four other charter schools — Achievement First, Teaching Firms, Coney Island Prep, and Brooklyn Charter — that filed an amicus brief in support of the case. The New York City Charter School Center, an advocacy group, also signed the brief and backs the case.
While the network remains hopeful that the court will side with families over bureaucracy — and allow Success to re-open pre-k classes for 2017-18 — the case will not conclude in time to complete all the critical preparations for serving children starting in August.
The mayor’s stance has shocked families because “pre-k for all” was the cornerstone of his election campaign and among his top overall policy priorities. Public charter schools, which predominantly serve children of color in low-income neighborhoods, were eager to help his effort by opening pre-k grades to give children from underserved communities an early start on their education. State law was changed in 2014 to allow charters to provide pre-k.
Instead of working with them, as he claimed he wanted to do, de Blasio has reverted to placing obstacles in their path. The contract forced on charter schools by the administration strips charters of their autonomy over curriculum, regulates the school day down to the minute, and arbitrarily limits field trips, among other overreaches.
Even before forcing Success to shutter its pre-k program next year, the mayor denied charter school families the additional classrooms needed to meet parent demand. In fact, Success Academy had to sue the city earlier this year to get pre-k space for its Cobble Hill and Williamsburg schools.
“It is wrong for the city to play politics with my daughter’s education,” said Jesus Hernandez, a Harlem resident and father of a current Success pre-k student. “As a father, I want what is best for my child. It is wrong for the city to try to take that away.”