Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Charter Choice: Think you might send your P.S. 9 student to Brooklyn East Collegiate? Think again.

The DOE wants Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School to relocate into P.S. 9's building as a replacement for M.S. 571. Wouldn't this middle school be a great—and nearby!—opportunity for your child after they outgrow P.S. 9? With rare exceptions: No, it would not. The admission lottery of Brooklyn East Collegiate is not accepting any new sixth graders for September 2011. In fact, the proposed co-location is not designed to serve our neighborhood, but rather the entire borough. (Brownsville was its original planned location.)

More importantly, Brooklyn East Collegiate is not a good fit for most P.S. 9 graduates. It runs a very strict program for under-performing students (for example, 5th graders who are reading at a 3rd-grade level). Its young, idealistic teachers are doing a great job to help their students advance. But otherwise, P.S. 9 parents who visited Brooklyn East Collegiate discovered an environment that is markedly different from P.S. 9’s. The labor-intensive work of bringing students up to grade-level performance leaves no room for art or music programs. In the hallways, children are seen and not heard. They stand in straight lines, and everyone wears a uniform. Discipline is based on a stringent system of merits and demerits. For example, a student may receive a demerit for falling off task.

Brooklyn East Collegiate has no PTA, nor does the charter leave room for one. Its "Family Involvement Committee" is allowed to make suggestions. The board of trustees has much more say than the parents. By contrast, P.S. 9 is a barrier-free school that serves a wide range of students in our community, including special needs and gifted and talented. Principal D’Avilar has worked hard to forge ties with the Prospect Heights community, which has welcomed her efforts. The narrow focus and rigid philosophy of Brooklyn East Collegiate is not inclusive enough to serve the broad needs of the baby boom in Prospect Heights.

--Karen S Fein, Michelle French, Maria McGrath, and Kirby Pulver

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