View Full Version : Manhatter-Other Educator Takes on Charter Chain KIPP in Fight for Space

03-28-2011, 09:49 AM
This from the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28winerip.html) by Michael Winerip:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Joel I. Klein, the former schools chancellor, are strong supporters of charter schools. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein have repeatedly told principals at New York City’s traditional public schools that a new age of reform has dawned, that charter schools are the cutting edge and that if these principals want traditional public schools to survive, they must learn to compete in the educational marketplace.

And so, last summer, Julie Zuckerman, the principal of a highly regarded public elementary school — Central Park East 1 in East Harlem — applied to open a new elementary school on the other side of Manhattan, in Washington Heights. Her plan was to create something truly rare: an urban school not focused on standardized testing.

Ms. Zuckerman, who worked in education as a principal and teacher for nearly 30 years and has a doctorate from Columbia, was given preliminary approval for the school in October. On Jan. 6, she was one of 30 people invited to the Education Department’s headquarters at Tweed Courthouse, where Cathleen P. Black, the current chancellor, congratulated them for being chosen to run new schools.

On Jan. 19, Ms. Zuckerman was informed that her school — to be called Castle Bridge — would be located in a vacant space at Public School 115 in Washington Heights. “We are all systems go,” wrote Elizabeth Rose of the Education Department. On Jan. 27, Ms. Zuckerman was informed by Alex Shub, another department official, that she would be getting $40,000 in start-up money. “Sounds like you are doing all the right things,” Mr. Shub wrote in a Feb. 14 e-mail.

And then, a few days later, Ms. Rose called to say that everything had changed. Ms. Zuckerman would not be getting the space at P.S. 115. Instead, Marc Sternberg, a deputy superintendent, had decided to award that space to KIPP, the biggest, richest charter school chain in the country.

That set off sparks. There is a quiet but fierce battle going on in education today, between the unions that represent the public school teachers and the hedge-fund managers who finance the big charter chains, between those who trust teachers to assess a child’s progress and those who trust standardized tests, and occasionally it flares out into the open over something as seemingly minor as the location of a school.

On one side is KIPP, a nonprofit organization with 99 charter schools nationwide, including seven in New York City. It is a favorite of the Broad, Gates and Walton foundations; in the last four years, KIPP has raised $160 million to supplement the public funds it receives ($13,527 per student in New York).

On the other side is Ms. Zuckerman, who has followed in the footsteps of Central Park East’s founder, Deborah Meier, one of the best-known education innovators in America.

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/nyregion/28winerip.html)

04-21-2011, 09:20 AM
From NY Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/uptown/2011/04/21/2011-04-21_progressive_school_loses_promised_space_to_char ter.html) by Michael J. Feeney:

Washington Heights parents eager for a progressive public school will have to wait another year because the space they were promised is being given to a charter school.

Supporters of Castle Bridge, a kindergarten-grade 5 school, thought classrooms would be made available inside Public School 115 on W. 177th St., but that space now is being given to a KIPP Star charter school.

Parents had hoped Castle Bridge would open in September - but the opening has now been put off until the fall of 2012.

"It's despicable," said Kevin Guzman, a parent who has been a key supporter of the school.

Guzman has been attending meetings at the Department of Education with Principal Julie Zuckerman, who also runs a top-notch public elementary school, Central Park East 1, in East Harlem. He also has passed around petitions in favor of the school.

"It's a horrible process," said Guzman, who also runs a preschool in Washington Heights. "Nobody knows why [the Education Department]makes the decisions that they make. It's a joke of a process."

He said the change angered parents whom he had begun meeting with about placing their kids in the school. Then, he said, "At last the minute, [the DOE] took it away."

read more>> (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/uptown/2011/04/21/2011-04-21_progressive_school_loses_promised_space_to_char ter.html)