As a mother raising three young children in the city, I know how hard it is to find great public schools. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to creating schools that I’d want for my own children — ones that are well-rounded, rigorous and diverse so that students can have the cross-cultural experiences they’ll find in the real world.
Success Academy Cobble Hill and Success Academy Williamsburg, which will open this fall, are those kinds of schools. Located within two of Brooklyn’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse school districts, I’m hoping these schools become models of integration and excellence.
That is the driving factor behind opening in these neighborhoods, despite a well-organized campaign to spread misinformation about our motives. Luckily, parents are smarter than that and have done their homework, attended information sessions and school tours so they can make informed decisions. Both Cobble Hill and Williamsburg already have more applications than we have seats available. What’s more encouraging is that those applications come from across their districts.
In Williamsburg, applicants are from the South Side, the North Side and everywhere in between. They are African-American, Latino and white. More than 30 percent of potential students are English Language Learners, which we’re thrilled about given the district’s large Latino community.
Faced with a choice of sending their kids to struggling or overcrowded district schools; paying an astonishing $40,000 for private school; or moving out of town, Brooklyn parents are sending a loud and clear message that those options won’t cut it. What they want is simple: a good public school for their kids.
Success Academy students are achieving at very high levels. Last year, 86 percent of Success Academy Harlem 1 fourth graders and 91 percent of fifth graders rated proficient in English Language Arts. 100 percent of fourth graders and 98 percent of fifth graders scored proficient in math. By comparison, just 44 percent of students citywide achieved proficiency in English and 57 percent scored proficient in math.
In the next five weeks, we expect many more in-district parents to learn about our schools and apply for more slots than are available, necessitating a lottery. We wish we could provide seats to everyone who wants one, but instead, strongly support efforts to improve existing schools and create new ones so that every child has access to a great education.
Eva Moskowitz is a former Councilwoman and CEO of the Success Charter Network.