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‘Charter’ territory! Parents in ‘failing’ MS 571 fight closure for elite school • Brooklyn Paper

‘Charter’ territory! Parents in ‘failing’ MS 571 fight closure for elite school

The city is moving to close a poorly performing Fort Greene middle school and use the space for an elite charter school — and parents say they’ve been sold out by an education bureaucracy more focused on tests than students.

MS 571, which shares an Underhill Avenue building with PS 9, is on the chopping block in a phase-out of 25 poor schools by the Department of Education.

It approved as expected next month, the middle school’s space would be given to Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School, which opened last year in Crown Heights.

MS 571 is on the chopping block because its students have scored in the bottom 10 percent on math tests, and the bottom two percent on English tests in recent years.

The school earned a D grade on its city progress report last year, which gave it F grades in categories including student performance, progress and overall “school environment.”

But Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) slammed the Department of Education, claiming that there have been “improvements” at the middle school.

“The Department of Education has failed to help [these] students succeed,” James told parents at a rally late last year. “And it has overlooked state test scores, which show improvements.”

City officials dismissed the state evaluation as essentially meaningless.

“The state progress report [that James cited] is a one-year snapshot that is broad and uniform — we’re more hands on and the school has done horribly,” said Education spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

MS 571’s principal, Santosha Troutman, has been unreachable for weeks.

If the phase-out goes forward, existing students would be allowed to graduate as Brooklyn East Collegiate, currently only a fifth-grade school, expands.

There will be another hearing on Monday and in February to determine a timeline for the futures of MS 571 and the charter school.

Opponents of the closure complain that the city hasn’t funneled enough resources to the middle school, but statistics show otherwise. The city spends $18,907 per student at MS 571 each year, which is more than $4,000 more than it spends on average citywide, according to expenditure reports.

Department of Education hearing at MS 571 [80 Underhill Ave. between Bergen Street and St Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights, (212) 374-0208], Jan. 24, 6 pm; the Panel for Educational Policy will vote at Brooklyn Tech HS [29 Fort Greene Pl. at DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, (212) 374-0208], Feb. 3, 6 pm.

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