kitchen table math, the sequel: a charter school grows in Brooklyn

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

a charter school grows in Brooklyn

A charter middle school that promises a private school mentality in a public school package — read: free — could have Park Slope parents tripping over their strollers to sign up.

Though the application to found the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School has not yet been approved, more than 500 people have already signed an online petition pledging that they would consider applying, with many adding comments such as "We need this school in Brooklyn!" and "Bravo." The school's founders, Luyen Chou and Daniel Kikuji Rubenstein, are both fathers who live in Park Slope, where they said demand is obvious. ....

He and Mr. Rubenstein hatched the idea to build a new middle school, which they hope will eventually extend through high school, during shared car rides to Columbia University's Teachers College [ed.: uh oh] in Upper Manhattan, where both studied independent school administration.

The two administrators said that while most of the city's charter schools are run by people with public school experience, they have different backgrounds. Mr. Rubenstein most recently headed the math department at a K–12 boys school on the Upper West Side [ed.: good], the Collegiate School. Mr. Chou works for a private consulting firm but was first a teacher and then administrator at the East Side's co-ed Dalton School, which is also K–12. Their private school experience makes their application for a charter school special, they said.

One advantage has to do with management. Like private schools, charter schools often operate outside union contracts, giving administrators more freedom over which teachers to hire and fire and how much to pay them. Private school heads are familiar with those decisions, which Mr. Rubenstein calls among the most important in education.

He said private schools also bring advantages to the classroom. Though he praised some of the city's charter school networks for their measurable successes, Mr. Rubenstein said the schools' styles — which he described as regimented, teacher-centered, and test score-driven — are "not the kind of models I would want to be around." [ed.: sigh]

Private schools, Mr. Chou said, are more holistic. "We want to create a school where we absolutely nail the standardized test, [ed.: !! ] but where the mission of the school is really focused on those larger, loftier habits of mind and habits of heart," he said.

2 Park Slope Fathers Dream Big: A Charter Middle School
Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 9, 2007

This development ought to strike fear into the hearts of some of these high-performing districts here in Westchester.

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