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

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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.

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

parent from Fort Greene says:
Please get your facts straight:

1. PS 9 and MS 571 are in Prospect Heights, not Fort Greene.

2. Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School opened in August 2010 with 70 5th graders. It can hardly be called elite; it's completely untested. And its admission is by lottery. See for more information.
Jan. 21, 2011, 12:14 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
The entire reason charter schools are allowed to accept outside funding is in order to pay for their facilities since they are NOT supposed to be housed in existing public schools! People should be screaming whenever a charter school "co-locates" into a public school facility resulting in overcrowding which contributes to inferior learning situations for our kids, which are ignored when Bloomberg's DOE then calls the public school a "failure."

These "failures" are engineered by a DOE that seems bent on privatizing public schools and has NO qualms about what it is doing to the futures of 1.1 million children and their families.

Heck of a job, Bloomie!
Jan. 21, 2011, 12:23 pm
Mark from Prospect Heights says:
There are phasing out a school that is not giving kids the education they are entitled to and bringing in school that is going to provide District 13 students a great education. What ever you think about the politics this is a good thing for the parents and kids in this neighborhood.
Jan. 21, 2011, 5:54 pm
Sheryl from Clinton Hill says:
Charter schools ARE public schools which receive less funding per pupil than district schools. They receive no facilitties funding. Money raised from fundraising and donations are primarily used for learning specialists, innovative strategies for teaching cirriculum, teacher professional development,competitive salaries for staff, etc etc, etc. Charter Schools have every right to co- locate with district schools. At the end of the day we need working productive schools to educate our children, District and Charter. Lets continue to put children first and take special interests and polictics and rhetoric out of the conversation. The war between district and Charter must end, for the last 50 years public education has been allowed to fall by the wayside leaving private for profit prisons to be built based on the test scores of fourth graders. Where is the voice of outrage on that subject. All of our children need choice, if a district or zone school is failing parents need options. Fix all schools, but while that is happening parents cannot wait while and see what happens we need choice, NOW!!
Jan. 21, 2011, 7:01 pm
Brooklun parent from Fort Greene says:
The plan to co-locate the Brooklyn East Charter School (which will much larger than MS 571) in the PS 9 building will be harmful to PS 9. Students in PS 9 will have less access to the gym, the playground, the cafeteria, the science room and the library. In fact, according to the DOE plan, PS 9 students will only have access to library for a paltry 4 hours a week -- even though PS 9 parents volunteered their time and skills to create the library! The charter school will have a third as many students as PS 9 but will have twice as much access to the library. How is is this fair? PS 9 is a strong neighborhood school that serves a wonderfully diverse student body. It seems that the DOE does want neighborhood schools to succeed otherwise it would not go ahead with the plan to co-locate a charter school in the building.
Jan. 21, 2011, 9:15 pm
fatimah from Cobble Hill says:
Brooklyn has turned into a borough for the Elite only. Real estate values have quadrupled (at least) over the past 15 years. My formerly mixed neighborhood has been taken over by high-income Caucasians. White people? There goes the neighborhood! Why don't we just sweep MS 571 under the carpet, like we have with low-income residents? Rather, let's hold the administration of MS 571 accountable for poor student performance! What has the administration of MS 571 been doing with all the money?. Children need leadership, guidance, consistency and inspiration, not misspent dollars. I expect MS 571 will be turned into a bunch of condos. Education is for Everyone, not just the Elite.
Jan. 22, 2011, 5:43 am
sheryl from Clinton Hill says:
Hi Parent from Brooklyn, I am just curious would your outrage and push back be as fervent if another district school moved into MS 571. I am only asking because multible district schools co locate in the same buildings and seem to work together for the betterment of the children. I will offer this resolution, have the administration of MS 571 reach out to Brooklyn East Charter School. You may both have more common ground and concerns than you know, that type of collaborative thinking has worked in many of the schools in NYC that share space. No one wants a hositle environement that can be felt by the children , it takes focus from learning and becomes a distraction that we as a community cannot afford. Change is often a scary thing,and I understand how emotional a time this can be for any school. IN the end we must stay vigilant to the emotional, spiritual and educational needs of our children. See if an understanding can be forged between the new school and your own. I wish you the best.
Jan. 22, 2011, 7:55 am
furtg from Downtown says:
Majority of the City's charter schools have not proven to provide better results than regular public schools. Charters are given outside funding in order to "play school", but will these kids actually be able to pass the specialized high schools test better than a regular public school? This one is NOT ELITE; can't be elite by lottery. Charters still get their share of disruptive students. Charters are a way for the DOE to pass the buck to private funders, and fundraising is not what it used to be.
Jan. 22, 2011, 8:41 am
parent from Fort Greene says:
District 13, which has gentrified quite a bit in recent years, has no high-performing middle schools suitable for children who might be aiming at high schools like Stuy, Tech, and Millennium. Not one. Even Arts & Letters, which is probably the best of the bunch, doesn't have a great track for kids who are already working well above grade level. So in addition to the fact that this co-location is incredibly insensitive to PS 9, which is on the point of being able to grow to meet neighborhood elementary school needs, the new charter school offers nothing to middle schoolers who do not need the extra hours, strict discipline and test prep that this charter school chain seems to offer children who come in performing below grade level.
Jan. 22, 2011, 4:54 pm
Brooklyn parent from Fort Greene says:
Hi Sheryl from Cobble Hill,

I would not be opposed to co-locating another school in PS 9 if the DOE made a proposal that made sense. The current proposal is completely unworkable -- the DOE plan crams too many students into one building and undercounts enrollment numbers at PS 9. In fact, the DOE plan lowers the numbers of future 5th graders who will be enrolled at PS 9. Where are students supposed to go for 5th grade? I agree that sometimes co-location can work but not when the DOE proposes an insane building utilization plan like the one they have proposed for the PS 9 building. Thanks for your good wishes.
Jan. 23, 2011, 1:18 pm
jjjjeeerr from li says:
—— m.s 571
Jan. 26, 2011, 7:56 pm

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