One more installment has been played out in the ongoing saga which could be entitled, “Success for Some and Not for Others” as the Panel of Educational Policy voted last Thursday to allow the charter school Success Academy to open another branch, this time in Williamsburg’s middle school 50.
Thursday’s decision by the New York Department of Education’s PEP was just one of several votes which drew angry crowds of people who are against the continued expansion of the Success Academy into their neighborhoods. The public meeting of the PEP had supporters of the proposals (appropriately) inside and protestors outside in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
One of the insiders, a parent from Williamsburg, said in support of not only the decision to allow Success Academy to share quarters with middle school 50, but also to allow Success to expand into an additional five co-locations around New York, that, “I think it’s a wonderful addition and I’m glad they’re taking the opportunity to help the kids. And it’s good they’re working with the kids. I’m happy.”
Those opposed feel strongly that further expansion of Success is a bad idea, saying that the privately run charter school discriminates against the poor and minorities.
“I’m calling for a thorough investigation into the outreach and marketing strategies of Success Academy network. These practices have discriminated against Latino and low income families,” said City Councilwoman Diana Reyna.
In anger and frustration many of the demonstrators boycotted the actual vote, claiming that the PEP is just a rubberstamp board whose main job is to further Mayor Bloomberg’s agenda. Only one PEP member, Patrick Sullivan, voted against the expansion of Success Academy.
“Today I’m very proud to join with the Southside Coalition and represent their interests against the interests of the mayor and the imposition of the mayor,” Sullivan said.
The protestors say that Thursday night’s vote has not dampened their zeal for stopping Success. The Southside Coalition has already filed a lawsuit against the Success Academy, the schools chancellor and the SUNY Board of Trustees, the board that gives authorization to charter schools.
“It’s necessary when a corrupt undemocratic process is being pushed by the mayor to basically take over our public schools, we have to stand up for our civil rights,” said Luis Garden Acosta of the Southside Community Schools Coalition.
Not everyone agrees that Success Academy is evil incarnate, however.
“I do go the extra mile, the distance to go to the Bronx Success Academy II because I know it’s a great school and I’m here to support it,” said Bronx parent Lilliana Fernandez.
The next installment of the continuing saga is expected to proceed in court.