As I toss my twelfth glossy Success Academy Charter School brochure in the recycling, I wonder what would happen if the millions Success Academy spent rabidly pursuing my family were spent on our local schools.
Success Academy wants to bring me “choice,” a trojan horse that masks their true intentions; to systematically dismantle public schools and profit from the “New Market Tax Credits” hedge funders get from investing in charter schools. Just as WalMart (a big funder of charters) destroys local shops, corporate charters destroy local schools. That’s not a choice I want.
I did my due diligence before deciding where to enroll my children. I looked at teacher and student attrition, peeled back marketing rhetoric, and unpacked language describing pedagogy and curriculum. I’ve been on so many school tours that my head spins, and I haven’t seen a single corporate-run charter school that merits the money and attention being lavished on it. I chose my local school.
Supporters of Success Academy will accuse me of being a union lackey. I’m not. They will say that I’m a supporter of the status quo. Far from it. I have lived in this district for many years and watched our local schools improve through diversity. I believe equity comes through public education, not segregated and privatized charter schools.
For the first time, our local schools are attracting families who would have otherwise enrolled in the progressive East Village schools. And we’re doing it without a million dollar marketing budget. Our district parents wisely recognize that test scores don’t tell the real story of learning. We choose less testing, not high test scores.
Our district has “choice” covered. Like French? Come to PS 110. Spanish? PS 84‘s dual language program. Super small class sizes? The Nest Program at PS 84 is starting in the fall. Parents can get in on the ground floor of the new, progressive Brooklyn Arbor School. PS 132‘s community service was honored by the White House. PS 31 is considered one of best in the city. There’s room for children at all of these schools, including three other charters and another Success Academy.
Our parents bring their entrepreneurial spirit into our schools, starting music programs, building green roofs, and creating robotic teams.
Our schools represent the winning combination of strong leadership, diversity in the classrooms, meaningful curriculum, parent engagement, and committed teachers. And we don’t need a lottery to attend them.
Brooke Parker is a member of Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools.