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Park Slope catches charter school fever

The Brooklyn Paper
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A group of Park Slope parents that is concerned about the dearth of good middle schools in the neighborhood is starting a charter school that will draw fifth graders from the Slope, Sunset Park and Gowanus.

If approved by the state, the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School will open in September, 2008 and will boast a 21st-century curriculum, its founders say.

“You talk to people in Park Slope, especially parents of kids in elementary school, and they’re panicked about … middle school,” said Luyen Chou, a co-founder, who has a daughter in elementary school, a son in pre-school, and is a long-time private school educator.

Chou met the school’s other co-founder, and its executive director, Dan Rubenstein, when they were studying at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Rubenstein now serves as the chair of the math department at Collegiate, a private school in Manhattan. He has dreamed of opening his own charter school for nearly a decade.

“I wanted to create a school, and do it the way I wanted to do it,” said Rubenstein.

“There’s all this building, and people moving to the neighborhood because they have kids, and they’re not building enough new schools.”

The Prospect Charter School will be open to all students in District 15 by lottery, raising to eight the number of middle schools in the district, which covers Park Slope, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Red Hook.

“Parents have long complained about middle schools in District 15,” said Pamela Wheaton, the director of InsideSchools.org, a clearinghouse for information on New York City public schools.

Of the seven middle schools in District 15, only three — M.S. 51 on Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street; the Math and Science Exploratory school on Dean Street; and M.S. 88, on Seventh Avenue — have so-called “selective,” or honors, programs.

And only in M.S. 51 did more than 80 percent of students meet state standards for reading and math in 2006.

A charter school is a publicly funded independent school exempt from bureaucratic red tape.

As of September, the city’s Department of Education expects to have 60 charter schools. Even the United Federation of Teachers, a teachers’ union that often spars with the city, supports the concept of charter schools.

“As a matter of fact, we run two charter schools in Brooklyn,” said Ron Davis, a spokesman for the union.

Once the proposal is approved by the state — which Rubenstein hopes will happen this summer — the priority will be to find space.

Chou said they wish to avoid the brouhaha that ensued when the city tried to place an Arabic language and culture academy into an existing program, PS 282, in Park Slope.

“We’re hoping for something that could be central, so Gowanus is the ideal location, somewhere between Third and Fourth avenues,” said Rubenstein.

Brooklyn Prospect Charter School

Grades: 6–12

Grade size: 100 students

Location: Organizers are looking on the border of Gowanus, Sunset Park and Park Slope

Admissions: by lottery

Founders: Dan Rubenstein, chair of the Math Department of Collegiate; Luyen Chou, senior vice-president of SchoolNet, a developer of technologies to help improve school efficiency

Curriculum: International Baccalaureate program (an increasingly common alternative to Advanced Placement classes)

Updated 4:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Toby Willner says:
I am very interested in getting more information about this school. How do I find out more?
Oct. 10, 2007, 2:12 pm
Danette Colon from Midwood says:
I want to know why is it only Grades 6-12 What about Pre-K to Grade 5. My e-mail address is jigglypuff12@optimum.net.
June 5, 2008, 9:28 am
greg from upper west side says:
Same as it ever was... NYC citizens that pay their taxes need to revolt over the BS public education system in this City. We pay more taxes and yet cannot (in good conscience) send our kids to our local public schools because they are terrible. Why are they terrible because you have a system that tolerates bad students, students who for WHATEVER reason don't care about their educations and blame everyone else.

So the choice is to move to the suburbs or pay for a private school. At the very least we should get a tax break for private school tuition. I am subsidizing these losers and their loser children.
Dec. 19, 2009, 3:10 pm
lewis from bedford says:
i am deeply concern about my child education,i wish they would be more charter schools in brooklyn.Especially for pre-k to elementary it suck that i have too send my child who is smart and willing to learn,to brooklyn terrible public school system.
July 29, 2010, 2:01 pm
TAMMY from PARKSLOPE says:
MY CHILD HAD A HORRIBBLE 5TH GRADE YR,HE WAS CHOCKED,THEN A PENCIL IN HIS THROAT AND THEN A BOY BROUGHT A GUN TO SCHOOL HID IT IN HIS COat pocket told my son it was real not to tell a soul,sad but true,looked like a great school,and a landmark,now i cant find a charter school in park slope near my home,and my son is being home schooled because of the mental anguish hes still in counciling,and the sad part of this ending,the principal hid the gun in her desk,i thought she followed procedures and called 911 i had to get the police into the school to get the gun,fake looked very real,sad what happens in our public schools,anyone with any suggestions on where i can try to get my child into 5th grade,possibly charter near parkslope 5th ave and 10th st,my email tammyszepessy@yahoo.com sincerely grateful for any one that reads and understands my sons pain and mine as well..god bless you
Sept. 11, 2010, 4:02 pm
donna from parkslope says:
there is a good school charter school on 5th ave and 18th st. it's called Hellenic Charter School.
July 5, 2011, 5:20 pm

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