Assemblyman Supports Effort to Save PS 194

Yesterday, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) announced that it would be backing down from its controversial plan to phase out P.S. 194, the Countee Cullen Literacy Academy, in Harlem. The original plan proposed to phase out the school over the next few years to make room for a Charter School. The new plan, which still has some unresolved issues within, allows the school to remain open and accept new students but also creates space for a new Charter School to be installed.

“My office has been involved in the fight to preserve this school since day one. The DOE had run three principals through the school in four years and was blaming disappointing progress reports for the proposed closure, their ‘solution’ to a problem which they in fact created. While I am still unhappy about the potentially detrimental proposal to bring a charter school into a public school, taking needed resources away from our public schools and continuing a tradition of negligence, I am happy we have reached somewhat of a middle ground. I believe that our public schools must be strengthened and quality education be made available to all, not just to those children who are lucky enough to win an entrance lottery into a Charter School. Nonetheless, I think that this compromise may be a step in the right direction, especially with the provision that local families will have a priority in the lottery process,” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.

A major issue was a lack of notification to and involvement of concerned parties when this proposal to phase out P.S. 194 was announced. Although the DOE has made improvements over previous outreach efforts, the time frame for notification is still not enough of a buffer to ensure that parents, teachers, administrators and community members are made aware of the consequences and ramifications of such closures. To ensure that proper notification takes place, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright has introduced legislation (A.1291) which would require a one year notification prior to any closure, consolidation or phase-out of existing public schools.

“I am hopeful that the DOE and the Harlem community can reach a consensus on Charter Schools and their proper place in the educational framework of our neighborhoods. I am committed to resolving the differences which still exist and ensuring that parents have an equal and powerful voice in the decision making processes which govern our schools,” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.

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4 thoughts on “Assemblyman Supports Effort to Save PS 194

  1. I do agree that there is a lot of gray area in the debate between standard and charter schools. There are examples of successful standard and charter schools, just as there are examples of failing standard and charter schools.

    In this case, the school in question is a failing standard school. I might be mistaken, but I believe the Harlem Children’s Zone operates some programs in the Countee Cullen school, so I was assuming they would be highly considered for the charter school moving in. Considering keeping a failing school over replacing it with a Promise Academy school was the reason for my outburst.

    The Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy is an excellent example of Harlem’s own community solving some of the toughest problems we face. The Promise Academy does not just rise above national performance averages, it blows them out of the water. The Promise Academy’s accomplishments are recognized nationwide was well. The Obama administration is looking to bring the same model to other struggling communities across the country.

    It would be a shame to keep a failing school in place over replacing it with a homegrown solution that has growing respect nationwide.

    • We are both saying the same thing. However, from what I understand about this particular school there is already a successful charter sharing space. The school recently got a new (and apparently very motivated) principal that some parents want to see have the opportunity to turn things around. I read that they reached a happy medium. The public school gets a chance to “fix” things, but they still must make room for a charter to come in the future. It is a huge school so there really is room for everyone. We’ll see how it works out for them. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

  2. I hope that Assemblyman Wright is not saying what I think he is saying.

    Nationally, only 7% of black 8th graders perform at grade level in math. In comparison, 97.4% of the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy 8th graders were at or above grade level in math. Promise Academy is a charter school.

    Is Assemblyman Wright saying that because not every kid can go to a charter school, that no kids in Harlem should have the chance to go to a school where they can actually learn?

    I do agree that it would be best for every kid to go to a school with a strong record of learning, but I would not deny the kids who can currently go to a well performing school that chance just because not everyone can go. And along the same line, I would not deny MORE kids that chance just because not everyone can go.

    • And this is the bigger issue facing the charter vs. public school debate. While charters receive some public funds they operate outside the boundaries of the traditional public school. If the public schools are failing and the charters are successful then this is a good thing. However, there are schools in Harlem that are soaring and charters that are floundering. It is not a black or white issue. Lots of gray comes into the picture.

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