Parents Bash Charter School Expansion

The city wants Community Roots to increase by taking over space used by PS 67 and P369K.

Nearly 200 parents, students, teachers and local politicians protested on Friday a city proposal to expand a charter school within PS 67, which they said would come at the expense of special needs students’ education.

Outraged parents lined up at a microphone in the school auditorium bashed the Department of Education’s plan, which would increase Community Roots Charter School from 300 to 450 students by 2013 — and shrink available space for PS 67 and P369K, which all share the same building.

“Our children have major issues and require speech, physical and occupational therapy,” said Danita Brown, whose son Elijah, age 9, attends P369K, a school for disabled students with autism. “If they lose this space it will be impossible to meet their needs.”

The DOE proposal was released earlier this month to howls of criticism over the further overcrowding of the PS 67 building.

“I’m not convinced that anyone at the DOE has the best interest of the children in mind,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, “We are not going to allow the students anywhere within PS 67 to be treated like second-class citizens.”

The DOE acknowledges that the plan would make the school building on St. Edwards Street over capacity while simultaneously reducing four classroom spaces for PS 67 and P369K. But the department argues that all three schools are already operating over capacity and that the impact of less classroom space could be minimized through scheduling.

Both PS 67 and Community Roots Charter School have room for improvement, according to the DOE's yearly reports.

Despite extensive parental support and solid test scores, Community Roots received a failing grade in recent city-wide progress reports, a fact that the opposition frequently highlights.

PS 67 is of the lowest performing schools in the district.

School officials did not speak at the event, which was organized by parents from P369K and PS 67. A formal public hearing is set for April 11th, where DOE representatives and school administrators will discuss the proposal in preparation for the deciding vote on April 28 by the so-called Panel for Educational Policy.

The proposal to expand Community Roots Charter School arrives close on the heels of the March 31 decision by New York State Commissioner of Education David M. Steiner to annul the DOE co-location program of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School to PS9 in Prospect Heights due to overcrowding.

Lisa Franklin April 04, 2011 at 06:56 PM
As a Community Roots parent who appreciates I had a choice to enroll my son at this school, it's been disappointing to read the negative articles (particularly NY Daily News coverage which was extremely one-sided with a sensationalistic headline) and to hear about our elected officials hedging their opinions based on the sentiment of other politicians (rather than facts and practicality). Lost in the din of emotion and purposeful hot-button pushing of fliers printed (and posted outside 67/369/Roots) that talk about the need to "save the first black school"; is that ultimately, Community Roots is an inclusion school for the very community the protesters are stirring fear in - District 13 families. Some of the students at Community Roots are zoned for PS 67/369. I find it interesting that the negative publicity skips over the fact that Community Roots provides options for ALL District 13 families. Instead, people get heated over divisive either/or positions of charter vs public; when the actual (but perhaps not as interesting) issue is that the principals of each of the 3 schools ARE working together so that all 3 schools can share space and work collaboratively; and that Roots is yet another option (among many) to provide seats for elementary & middle school students. I guess the facts aren't as juicy as misleading headlines that use the terms, "bash" and "pushing students into hallways/stairwells.
Joe Gonzalez April 04, 2011 at 09:08 PM
People should stop whining about the corrupt Dept. of Education (DOE). You all got what you voted for in the November 2009 Mayoral election. You wanted Bloomberg--well you got Bloomberg. So go to hell all the cry babies who voted for Bloomberg--or worse those of you who didn't vote at all are equally guilty for the rest of us being stuck with Bloomberg for four more years. And if that isn't bad enough, I just found out that there are forces at work who are secretly plotting to lay the ground work for Bloomberg to get a fourth term as mayor. Voters beware!
Colin Weatherby April 04, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Hi Lisa, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I do agree that there has been a bit of sensationalizing in the press, but I think it is important to remember that many of the parents at PS67 and P369 are unaware of the civil conversations happening between the three principals at your schools. The amount of misinformation and hearsay that I found at this meeting was astounding and they were most definitely out to "bash" the plans for expansion. As a Community Roots parent, I hope you understand that your opposition is scared, angry, and confused. This is not a recipe for thoughtful dialogue. Secondly, the "facts" in this case are far from clear. The principals would be doing a great service to their community if they developed a cohesive statement together that could be explained to all parties involved.
Megan Dee April 05, 2011 at 01:20 PM
The failing grade Community Roots received on the progress report last year is not a reflection of the school but rather the flawed process that is used by the DOE. After changing the grading system after the tests had been taken all school scores dropped dramatically with a 20-25% average decline. Other schools were given a safety net so that they could not fall more then 2 grades from the previous years score. Being a newer school CRCS had not received a progress report in the past and so without a previous grade it was not given a safety net and therefore got an F. Again this is a reflection of a flawed process on the part of the DOE and the current testing system and in no way reflects the incredible education children at CRCS receive. The fact that this is frequently cited by people opposed to CRCS shows me the facts mean little in this discussion. Misinformation and fear are being used to create a divisive environment instead of a collaborative one and that does not serve the children or the parents of these communities.
Colin Weatherby April 05, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Hi Megan, after speaking with you and reviewing the progress report, I couldn't agree more that the reporting system seems to be deeply flawed and inappropriately weighted towards exposing failures without recognizing success. I tried to address this issue by including a link to the excellent commentary and analysis by parent Michael Randazzo over at The Local. I hope that anyone interested in the issue of school progress reports takes the time to read his piece. http://fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/opinion-i-cant-believe-community-roots-charter-school-got-an-f/
Prospect Heights Parent April 06, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Colin, I don't believe that the parents at PS 369 or PS 67 are driving the opposition to this plan. It's the UFT that is stirring things up, as it does every time there's a co-location involving a charter school. It's in their interest to spread misinformation and turn this into an emotional and political battleground, rather than a calm dialogue about how to create a safe, nurturing environment for children to learn. Of course people are "scared, angry and confused." The UFT and anti-charter forces are making them so, and the DOE's dysfunctional approach only makes things worse. The directors, teachers, and parents of Community Roots will do our best to work toward civilized discourse.
Colin Weatherby April 06, 2011 at 04:08 PM
If this is the case and you have some concrete evidence, I would absolutely love to speak with you further about the UFT involvement. This is a story that should have some exposure. Please contact me at colin.weatherby@gmail.com
Lisa Franklin April 06, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Colin....appreciate your response to my comment. You raise a good point that many of the parents may not be aware that the principals of the 3 schools have been working together. From what I know, all 3 principals with DOE regarding space allocation together. Unfortunately, misinformation does tend to spread in the absence of accurate information. I don't want anyone in my community to be "scared, angry or confused." If that means more accurate information needs to be readily available, then I support that. Community Roots is fundamentally a community school....from its students who walk there from across the street and surrounding blocks; to the building-wide programs that benefit all 3 schools; to the neighborhood studies that involve students interviewing local business owners/employees; to the community service projects that have benefited a senior housing facility right down the street and most recently an after school community service project assisting local shelters. This isn't an issue of a takeover; it's an issue of providing yet another school choice for families in the community in a space that's been analyzed by DOE to offer an opportunity for all 3 schools to co-exist and continue educating our community's greatest asset - its children.
Lisa Franklin April 06, 2011 at 06:43 PM
that should read: "all 3 principals WERE with DOE ON THEIR WALK-THROUGH TOUR regarding space allocation together"
Colin Weatherby April 09, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Hello everyone. Please see my post on potential relocation plans and the recent meeting cancellation. Thank you for your input! http://fortgreene.patch.com/d/articles/city-postpones-community-roots-expansion-vote


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