Williamsburg residents speak out against charter school
by Kathleen Lees
Aug 22, 2012 | 1050 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Opponents of a proposed charter school in Williamsburg got there chance to voice their opinions at a public hearing at the District 14 offices last week.

Charter schools are publicly funded, independent schools established by community groups. The Williamsburg Ascend Charter School has a planned opening for September, 2013, with a proposed enrollment of 208 students in grades K-1, and 660 students in grades K-5.

A representative for the Williamsburg Ascend Charter School discussed his hopes for the new school , stressing that no children will be turned away from the program and that advanced curricular activities would be offered at a young age.

He also argued adding new charter schools would improve the learning environment for children going to a low-scoring school from the area.

But not everyone shared his positive outlook.

“There are a lot of places here in the City of New York that could benefit from a charter school,” said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. “But District 14 is not it.”

Lentol argued that bringing a new middle school or high school to the area could be beneficial, but not an elementary school due to the under-enrollment status of the current schools in the area.

“We’re talking about lower enrollment,” said Councilwoman Diana Reyna staff member Maria Bautista. “If you really want to help this community, you need to listen to what this community is saying. It’s been said loud and clear and we don’t need any more charter schools.”

Resident Elaine Manatu talked about the successes of the current elementary schools in the area.

“We know this is education for business,” Manatu said. “To say that all our elementary schools are failing when we have three elementary schools with blue-ribbon status and another one about to be getting blue-ribbon status—it’s wrong.”

Manatu also said that many students who don’t keep up with the work pace at a charter school or spoke English as a second language were often turned away.

“We have 30 elementary schools in District 14,” Manatu said. “We don’t need another elementary school.”

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