Central Park East I & II’s Future

Dear friends,

Please support the wonderful, historic, progressive Central Park East I and II elementary schools as they try to expand into a middle school to provide a much-needed progressive middle school alternative in upper Manhattan. Their proposal to open a middle school has been turned down by the DOE four years in a row, most recently because there was allegedly no space for the middle school. But at the same time a new charter school, the East Harlem Scholars’ Academy, was allowed to open on the third floor of CPE I’s building. It was supposed to be temporary, for two years only, but now they have applied for a three-year extension and in addition–on the basis of their “proven” year-and-a-half of excellence (!)– to start a second school, East Harlem Scholars’ Academy II, in the building as well. There will be a co-location hearing on February 27.

The two CPE schools are mounting a campaign to get their own middle school expansion approved and have started a Facebook page:


Please take a moment to like the page! This is a public relations campaign as much as anything.

Thanks, Anne

10 Responses

  1. Why are you attacking the other 2 schools like they did something wrong here? Educators know there is a need for elementary schools in East Harlem. Maybe your middle school plan and presentation didn’t meet the needs of the neighborhood? No need to attack the other schools, they’re taking space in an underperforming school, not yours.

    • Was the community consulted about what it needs?

      I’d say that there are far more middle schoolers i need than elementary students. A very large percentage of CPEers don;t stay in District 4 middle schools.

      FInally–I wasn’t actually attacking any schools, but decisions made at the DOE.


    • No, they are taking space in the building occupied by Central Park East I, which is anything but an “underperforming school” (whatever that means). The first Harlem Scholars Academy moved into the third floor of our building the year before last, ostensibly for only two years while they waited for a new space. Now they want to open a second school in the same building. The need for good middle schools is no less acute than the need for elementary schools and CPE I has a decades-long track record of excellence, a deeply committed parent body, and a remarkably diverse student population. I am not attacking the schools, but rather the policies that lead to the privileging of young, untried charter schools with rich people on their boards of directors over venerable institutions like CPE I with real parents working hard to make sure their children get a good public education.

      And by the way, how do we know that the Harlem Scholars Academy is performing better than anyone else? They have been open less than two years. Go to their website and click on a tab called “our results:” it contains a paragraph of bland prose promising a “multi-faceted assessment program. . .that includes a plethora of formative measures” and a link to their annual report from last year that leads to a “404 page not found” site. These are the results that garnered them the approval for a second school (which incidentally will be K-12, not just an elementary school).

    • Education should not be a zero-sum game. If there is a need for more elementary schools, that need has to be met. But as a parent of a child in CPE 1, I have no idea there he will go for middle school. My wife and I love CPE 1 for so many reasons: it is open to all children (not just “gifted” ones), it honors the professional autonomy of its teachers, it seeks to foster intellectual growth by caring for the whole child — in short, it is based on what is called the progressive model of education, which as far as we’re concerned is right for our child. Chancellor Walcott has repeatedly said he wishes to provide parents with many options — and yet as far as I know there is currently in our area no middle school with anything like CPE’s educational philosophy. Why not? And why shouldn’t meeting this existing demand in a building that has available space be a priority? Who is making these decisions, on what basis? Unfortunately, the DOE too often hands down decisions about which schools should be opened and which ones should be closed that seem quite arbitrary, motivated by concerns that are rather remote from those of teachers, parents and children.

    • The charter schools aren’t being attacked; rather, it’s the DOE’s practice of co-locating charter schools in our public school spaces that we object to. Charter schools are funded by corporations and foundations with millions of dollars — why can’t they use some of that money for dedicated space? When EHSA first moved in, it meant squeezing in another school in the cafeteria, the playground, the auditorium, the gymnasium, etc., in a building already housing 3 schools. Also, when EHSA moved in, IT WAS AGREED that it would be there for only two years, while its new space was being constructed. This was an agreement built upon a lie, pure and simple. (Yeah, I said it. A lie.) There was never any intention of building a school for those kids. No one is surprised that the charter school is now asking for more time in Jackie Robinson Ed. Complex. If you think this is a temporary situation, you’re not paying attention. The DOE does a masterful job of pitting parent against parent, child against child, and consequently, eliciting reponses like that of Adv4Ed. We want those charter school kids to have the same opportunities as our public school kids; but when co-location policies harm our public schools, we can’t sit idly by.

  2. After being told by the DOE that CPE’s middle school proposal would have been accepted if there were space, I hope that now that space IS opening up in the building, the DOE will truly consider allowing CPE1 and 2 to expand to grade 8. It’s a little shocking to me that they are instead considering an expansion of the East Harlem Scholars Academy. The first EHS school has only been around for a year and a half. It could be great–I hope it is–but as far as I can tell there are no data yet that argue it is doing a particularly good job. I think it makes sense to wait a few years to see how things go with this new school before attempting to replicate it. CPE, on the other hand, has been around for years, it is proposing something that can’t be found anywhere else in Manhattan (a public, progressive middle school), and the parent demand for spaces has far outstripped the spaces available for years. Clearly, this is a choice that parents want. When EHS moved into the building, they promised to be gone in two years–so according to the original agreement there should be no problem with them vacating and CPE expanding.

  3. Well, they did do something wrong. They promised to be building their own school building and as far as I understand it after 2 years there is not even as much as a plan or a budget item in their budget for that.

    So, I am just very suspicions of anything that is being promised to us from their side. And it seems to be a repeating story all over the city of a charter school coming in under the promise to leave after a year and than not leaving and squeezing other schools. Charter schools do not seem to be good sharers.

    As a CPE 1 parent I am very concerned about our children being squeezed and not having the same physical resources available. I know a CPE middle school would work with us and not deliver empty promises just to get to their means and us parents we would not have to compete with a rich board of trustees.

    Andrea Lieske

    • As a parent of 2 kids at CPE1, I share the concerns posted here by others. When East Harlem Scholars charter school first came to our building as a “temporary” co-location, we were assured that they wouldn’t use any of the already existing schools’ shared spaces. Now, a year an a half later, they have broken our trust. They indeed use our playground (that exists because of a grant that CPE1 got) and our cafeteria. They are looking to extend their “temporary” co-location and it is my understanding they don’t have the funds to build the building that is supposed to be their permanent school location. It sure makes it seem as though they planned on staying in our building all along. So how can we trust that the second East Harlem Scholar charter school will actually not impact on our school’s space? And our school’s future more globally?

      CPE1 has a solid history and track record that dates back to the early 1970’s. Our teachers are diverse, both by age and ethnicity. Our students and their families are diverse (ethnicity, SES, and family structure). Our children learn to work together, to be responsible, and to be active members of a community surrounded by adults they know (and who know them) and trust. This is what we want available to our kids as they enter the middle school years. This is why we want the DOE to give CPE available space in the CPE1 building; so we can open a progressive middle school and have that option for our children.
      – Jill

    • Charter schools get x # of dorlals per student, nothing more or less. They will screw you and cut every corner they can as their inferior scores are hidden in back pages of newspapers. They will break the law in trying to keep students with disabilities out as well as any other student where there is no profit.That is the experience in Michigan, with a few exceptions where there is some private money and facilities provided as donations in a few schools. Their Charter School program is actually run better than other states. Charter schools are one of the bigger jokes conservatives have foisted upon the public.

  4. The fact that this discussion can devolve into a back and forth about whether advocates for the expansion of an existing school are or aren’t attacking a a charter school demonstrates the sad state of affairs set up and encouraged by the DOE. CPE 1 is a successful, beloved, established institution serving East Harlem for 40 years. The CPE community has, for a number of years, been advocating to expand this successful model to a K-8 school, only to be told repeatedly that the space in the building could not accommodate this. Then the DOE placed a charter school there, saying it was to “incubate” but clearly, from the get-go not meaning that. Now, with the closing of the middle school already co-located in the building, which clearly will free up space, DOE decides to open another charter school rather than expand the successful existing school. Is it any wonder that the parents at CPE are objecting?

    The fact that the CPE community is rising up is – or should be – unrelated to our assessment of these particular charter schools or the charter school movement as a whole. The point isn’t that the schools being placed at CPE are good or bad. The point is that a school already there wants to expand, has the capacity to expand, and would serve a crying need in the district for decent middle school options. It feels as though the City has set this up to pit parents against one another, distracting us from the bigger failings of the public school system.

    While I myself am not a big supporter of charter schools – seeing them (at least in NYC) as the Mayor’s opportunity to pretend to “fix” the public school system by opening new, untried schools and satisfying the parents who scream the loudest – I do not object to other parents choosing a charter school option or to those schools being open. So long as they don’t: 1) take away critical funding from the public school system as a whole; 2) prevent successful public schools from continuing and growing. It is hard to miss that the way in which the DOE is setting this up makes the continued success of good public schools and the establishment of charter schools seem mutually exclusive. Why?

    I wish the East Harlem Scholar charter luck and success – really. I just believe that their success should take place in their own space and that it should not prevent CPE from building on the success it has already demonstrated. Can’t we all just get along?

Leave a Reply to Heidi Aronin Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: