Please help The Children's School expand!

The following post is by Nicole Krieger and Janine DiLorenzo, parents at The Children's School, a very special  inclusion school in Brooklyn that has been asking DOE for  years for more space to expand into the middle grades.  Too often the folks at Portfolio Office seem eager to find space for charters over the needs of even our most successful public schools.  Please lend your support to this  campaign.

Parents’ Committee for The Children’s School Expansion has begun a campaign to garner wide community and political support for the school’s most recent application to the NYC DOE Division of Portfolio Planning to expand The Children’s School through the 8th Grade.
A unique collaborative effort between District 15 and the city-wide District 75 (that oversees special education programs), the Children’s School covers all of District 15, which includes Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and parts of Ft. Greene. The School currently consists of two sites. There is an all inclusion (ICT/Integrated Co-Teaching) elementary school in the Gowanus, in which ALL classrooms have a general education teacher and a special education teacher jointly providing instruction to a class that includes both students with and students without disabilities to meet the diverse learning needs of all students in a class. In addition, there is a very well-regarded Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) site in Ft. Green.
In fall of 2011, The Children's School was granted Portfolio Approval for Instructional Capacity by the NYC DOE Division of Portfolio Planning, which should have led to a space being allocated enabling the middle school grades to begin serving students for the 2012/2013 school year. Unfortunately, The Children’s School was not allocated space because the NYC DOE Division of Portfolio Planning stated they were unable to locate an appropriate space for the expansion. Therefore, the expansion could not proceed as planned. It was astonishing to The Children's School community, staff and parents, as well as the wider District 15 community, that other schools, including some which faced local opposition, such as Cobble Hill Success Charter, were granted space during the last portfolio approval cycle while The Children’s School, with a 20 year record of providing quality education to both general education and special needs children, was not.
This is the THIRD TIME (2005, 2008, and 2011) that The Children's School has been granted Approval for Instructional Capacity to expand through the eighth grade. On all three occasions, the NYC DOE Division of Portfolio Planning did not allocate appropriate space, but was able to allocate space to other schools. The goal now is to acquire a site so that The Children's School grade expansion can take place in fall 2013. In order to attain our goal in the 2012/2013 planning cycle, we have launched a campaign to make the community and our local politicians aware of this issue by creating a petition and website.  

Our website provides access to our petition, information about the campaign, a brief snapshot of the mission, curriculum and philosophy of the middle school grades and links to our Facebook page:  and Twitter feed:  Our petition can also be accessed here.
The addition of middle school grades within The Children’s School will provide much needed quality middle school spots to District 15 in Brooklyn. This has been a long standing problem [i]. It is poised to get even larger as the current enormous elementary school cohort, which has caused elementary schools to resort to kindergarten waiting lists for zoned students [ii]. moves up to the middle school level. The difficulty in getting an appropriate middle school spot has historically been even more challenging for children who have special needs [iii].
The new middle school classes will be unique among all middle schools in New York City. Often classes in middle school in New York City have as many as 35 students in a class with one teacher, whereas the middle school grades in The Children’s School will be all inclusion classes with classes capped at 24 students with two teachers and a paraprofessional. In addition, the middle school will maintain The Children’s School’s mission of respecting differences in all people. The school will continue to foster a community where students of varying abilities and multiple intelligences collaborate, cooperate, and respectfully support and challenge each other to succeed both academically and socially.
The Children’s School has been a pioneer in this model of teaching and learning since 1992 and has been extremely successful. This success is demonstrated by recent data collected by the NYC DOE. In 2009-2010 The Children’s School was ranked first in District 75, and third overall in NYC on the Chancellor’s List of Best Schools (based on the citywide school Progress Report). In 2009-2010, 78% of students scored a level 3 or 4 in ELA, and 79% scored a level 3 or 4 in math on the NYS standardized tests.5 In 2010, NY1 ran a story about The Children's School because it was ranked #3 overall among all elementary and middle schools in the city.
This success provides evidence of the need for the school’s expansion. The staff, parents and students at The Children’s School wholeheartedly embrace and support our school’s philosophy of inclusion. Seats at our school are highly coveted and an expansion will provide current and new students with the same foundation to succeed as they further their education into the middle school years and beyond.

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