Monday, November 23, 2009

Public Hearing for McCourt High School

Frank McCourt High School Educational Impact Statement

I. Date, time and place of public hearing for this proposal. December 8, 2009 at 6:00pm
145 W 84th Street, Manhattan
There will be no question and answer period. Speaker sign-up will begin 30 minutes before the hearing and will close 15 minutes after the start.

II. Description of the subject and purpose of the proposed item under consideration Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, Frank McCourt, a new school that will serve grades 9-12 when fully phased-in, will be located in school building M470 (hereinafter referred to as "M470"). M470 is located in Community School District 3 ("District 3") at 145 W 84th Street, Manhattan. The building currently houses four schools: Louis D.
Brandeis High School (03M470, "Brandeis"), The Global Learning Collaborative (03M403, "GLC"), Innovation Diploma Plus (03M404, "IDP"), and The Urban Assembly School For Green Careers (03M402, "Green Careers"). 
Brandeis is in its first year of phasing-out and will continue a gradual phase-out until the 2011-2012 school year when it will officially close.
The other three schools currently in M470 are all in their first year of operation. GLC and Green Careers currently serve grade 9 and will add one grade per year until they reach grades 9-12 configuration. IDP is a transfer school serving grades 9-12; it will continue to serve grades 9-12. 
M470 has a capacity of 2374 and its current utilization rate is 95%.
M470 has sufficient space for Brandeis, GLC, IDP, Green Careers, and Frank McCourt to operate at full organizational capacity. 
In its first year of operation, Frank McCourt will serve grade 9. The school will then add one additional grade each year until 2013-2014 when the addition of grade 12 completes the grade span of the school. This proposal addresses the need to provide access to a high quality, new selective high school, and to increase the number of available high school seats in Manhattan.

III. Information regarding where the full text of the proposed item may be obtained The Educational Impact Statement can be found on the Department of Education website: 

IV. Submission of public comment
Written comments can be sent to 
Oral comments can be left at 718-935-4414. 

V. Date, time and place of the PEP meeting at which the Board will vote on the proposed item. 
December 17, 2009
New World High School
921 East 228th Street, Bronx 

VI. The name, office, address, email and telephone number of the city district representative, knowledgeable on the item under consideration, from whom information may be obtained concerning the item
Name: Kim Wong
Office: Office of Portfolio Planning
Address: 52 Chambers St
52 Chambers Street Room 320 New York, NY 10007 Telephone: 212-374-0209
Fax: 212-374-5588
Phone: 212-374-5049

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Letter Accompanying McCourt Draft Mission Statement

Dear Friends,

In the following post you will find a Proposed Vision Statement for the Frank McCourt High School.

Given that the Frank McCourt High School is being proposed as one of the schools to be housed in the Brandeis Campus, and given that the community must be part of the process to ensure that all voices are heard, a group of university and K-12 educators, parents and education activists, named and identified below, came together to craft an inclusive statement that represents both the spirit and legacy of Frank McCourt. After substantial consultation with varied constituencies, we are now prepared to present this Vision Statement in a number of public venues

We appreciate the input you have provided to us and look forward to an open process for the continuing development of Frank McCourt High School.


Bernadette Anand Instructor Graduate School of Education Bank Street College

Teresa Arboleda, Education Activist, former member District 3 CEC and School Board

Liz Brock, Education Activist, former District 3 School Board Member

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Urban Education, Chair of the subprogram of Social/Personality Psychology The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Donna Nevel, community psychologist and educator and Perla Placencia, MSW, Center for Immigrant Families

Elizabeth Shell, former Chair, present Treasurer of CEC District 3

Lizabeth Sostre, retired English teacher and District 3 Middle School Choice Coordinator

Draft McCourt Mission Statement

The Frank McCourt High School

Francis "Frank" McCourt (19 August 1930 – 19 July 2009) was a teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, best known for Angela’s Ashes. He taught English at McKee Career and Technical High School in Staten Island, Stuyvesant High School in New York City and in the English department of the New York City Technical College of the City University of New York. Frank McCourt strongly believed that all students could learn to write and think creatively.

Mission Statement

The Frank McCourt High School invites applications from a broad range of students with a desire to write – journalism, poetry, creative fiction, non-fiction, drama, science writing, biography, business documents, and/or graphic novels. All courses across the curriculum will be writing intensive and will encourage youth to engage with various modes of written communication. The rich curriculum will include substantial writing in world languages (Spanish and/or French) as well as an exploration of the arts and literature of Spanish and French speaking countries. There will be writers in residence at the school and opportunities for students to be engaged in a variety of writing projects, both in English and in other languages. Community-based organizations, such as Symphony Space, will be partners in furthering the curriculum.


The Frank McCourt High School is committed to total inclusion and to diversity by race/ethnicity, social class, language background, and learning styles. The school is committed to both excellence and equity – which go hand in hand, creating a community of students, educators, and families who reflect the rich diversity of NYC and are eager to join and help create a vibrant, creative school environment. The Frank McCourt High School will offer a range of opportunities in English writing and literature for English Language Learners, as well as for students who have advanced knowledge of Spanish and/or French.

The admissions process will be designed to cultivate a broad range of applicants with a passion for writing. The Frank McCourt High School will be a screened program, which means that students will be assessed based on: an interview, on-site writing sample, middle school transcripts, and test scores. The on-site writing activity will be judged using a culturally sensitive rubric. No single criterion will automatically exclude any student.

The admissions committee will include a wide range of diverse members of the school community, including administrators, teachers, students, and others committed to the mission and vision of the school. The school’s advisory board members may also be part of the admissions committee.

Student Recruitment

There will be outreach to middle schools, after-school programs, houses of worship, and community organizations in order to inform the widest possible group of students about the school and how to apply.

Advisory Board

An advisory board will be established that reflects the diversity of the school community and includes representatives of various media and cultural traditions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letter from District 3 Families to Chancellor Klein

Following is a letter written by CS parents Nancy Brandwein and David Felton on behalf of District 3 families. This letter states our position as follows:

District 2 has six screened schools that offer preference for their students. District 3 has none. All screened schools should take students from across the city and not be limited by geography.

If you agree with this, please copy and paste the letter content into a word document, print, and mail and/or paste into the links provided on this blog. Scroll down and look to the right to see contact information for Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and our Upper West Side and Manhattan elected officials.


Joel Klein
Department of Education
New York City
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

In the New York City high school application process we face a gross inequity as we negotiate the stressful, complicated process of trying to get our kids into screened high schools. There are at least six screened schools in District 2 that offer preference to either District 2 students or students in their geographic area. These high schools are: Eleanor Roosevelt, Millennium, School of the Future, Baruch College Campus High School, NYC Lab School, and NYC Museum School.

It happens that these schools are consistently among the top-rated screened public high schools in New York City, and technically any 8th grade student in the city can apply to them. But because these schools are mandated, sometimes against the school's own wishes, to give preference to District 2 students, it's much harder for students outside the district to get in. Yet very few high schools in other districts offer a similar district preference, so understandably many parents feel that students in District 2 (which happens to be one of the wealthiest districts in Manhattan) enjoy an unfair advantage over students in the rest of the city.

We are in District 3, and there are currently no screened schools that offer preference to District 3 students. These students, applying for high school from such District 3 public middle schools as Mott Hall II, Delta, Computer School, Columbia Secondary School, and The Center School, find that the playing field is not level. Many of these students are interested in rigorous high schools with high graduation rates and offerings of AP classes, such as the six mentioned schools in District 2, and Beacon High School in District 3. But the District 2 schools essentially exclude them, and Beacon is open to students citywide, which would be fair enough if that policy were followed by all high schools in the city.

As parents of these District 3 children, who like all parents in the city pay taxes for all the schools in the city, we feel that the quality of our children's high school education, and potentially college education, is skewed by where they live -- and that the DOE condones this inequity. In fact, according to at least one District 2 high school principal, this unfair and discriminating practice has been enforced most rigorously in the last four years, at the behest of the Chancellor of the DOE.

Please get back to me with your thoughts on how the DOE will level the playing field so that our students, and all New York City students, can have the same opportunities that District 2 students enjoy.


Friday, November 13, 2009

New Schools Application Clarification

Here is the response I received after contacting the chancellor via the link on the DOE website.

Dear Ms. Mears,

Thank you for your e-mail to Chancellor Klein. I am responding on the Chancellor’s behalf.

Please be advised that all students, including those who receive specialized round results in February, will have the opportunity to re-submit an application during the new schools choice process. Be sure to contact your son’s guidance counselor in early February, perhaps when you get the specialized test results, to request a New Schools Choice Form.


Helen Tsang
Chancellor’s Strategic Response Group

Thursday, November 12, 2009

DOE Proposes McCourt

Just came across this press release from a few weeks ago.

McCourt Admissions Mystery

I have asked so many people about how the McCourt application process will work and no one can tell me for sure. I just spoke to someone in enrollment who said, "when it comes to the DOE, we live in the present." Meaning because the school does not yet exist, they can't say anything about it. I'm giving up for now. If anyone hears anything from a credible source, let me know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frank McCourt Planning Meeting

I attended yesterday’s community planning meeting for the Frank McCourt School hosted by Gale Brewer. It was an energized and positive meeting including members of the original proposing and planning group, the founding principal for McCourt, Danielle Salzberg, the principals from the other schools in the complex, one of the founders of Beacon, a representative of Symphony Space, some familiar faces from District 3 CEC, and various other members of the community and parents.

While I did not walk away with much in terms definititive information, I was impressed with the positive intention to build a school that is exceptional not only its own right but also as part of a collaborative campus with the other schools in the complex. Danielle has a lot of experience at creating new schools and spoke eloquently about her vision for the school that includes literature, journalism, and other types of written communication with a focus on story telling in all its forms from fiction, to drama, to lyrics, to digital media and film, etc. This is in addition to rigorous academics in all of the core college-prep subjects and foreign language. Danielle definitely said it better and in more detail.

Here are some of the other things I learned:

Even though it has been “announced” by the DOE, the school isn’t official until an approving vote sometime in December, after our applications are due.

The group is aware of the timing issues with the specialized round of matches and even the main round depending on how things go. So far there is no workaround for that. It’s just the way DOE does it.

There won’t be any formal promotion until the new school fair in February. However, the planning group is going to start their own “off the record” promotions and Danielle will answer questions at

The group had hoped for a larger school but the DOE set it at 108, the typical size of a small high school, which someone explained is 27 kids per classroom x 4. Larger schools are allowed to go up to 34 per class but small schools are capped at 27. When I was on the Stuyvesant tour, the principal said pretty much every class there is at 34. There is hope that once McCourt gets started it might grow as Beacon did to a mid-sized school. Beacon started out much smaller than it is now.

The school is set right now at citywide and screened. There was discussion about what the screening criteria should be and the planning group is going to develop a recommendations document. The ideas that were discussed are very similar to Beacon: in addition to test scores, grades, and attendance, there might be additional criteria like writing sample, group activity, on-site writing assignment, etc.

There was discussion as to how true diversity can be achieved given the system of computer matching. The intent is for the school to reflect the rich diversity of our city. There will be a big push for outreach citywide to find those students who are particularly talented at or passionate about story telling no matter what middle school they attend.

The school will share the auditorium, cafeteria, library, courtyard (and I think science labs) as well as complex-wide sports teams. Some clubs are already shared between Green Careers and Global Learning and they see that happening with McCourt as well. Assemblies will be shared when appropriate. For example, if McCourt is hosting a writer or journalist guest lecturer, then GC and GL will be invited and vice versa. The auditorum is huge.

There will apparently be some way by which we can apply to McCourt when it is announced and switch from our initial matches if accepted. However, no one explained how this would work exactly.

There are some DOE meetings and public comment sessions coming up that I will need to confirm as well as a next planning meeting in early December.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Founding Principal of the McCourt School

West Side Spirit article "Founding Principal"—the first Frank McCourt HS leader, Danielle Salzman, preps for a school launch marathon.

E-mail if you are interested in FM:

Provided by Patty Dann

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Additional Information Session at Green Careers

UA High School for Green Careers will be having another information session on Thursday, November 12th from 5-7pm. After attending this session, if you are still interested in our school there will be an opportunity for your child to come for a visit during the school day on Monday, November 16th to see some classes in session. Please let me know if you have any further questions. I look forward to seeing you.

Provided by Amy Greco

Economic Theory of NYC HS Choice

For those of you who are interested in the theory behind the NYC HS choice process, check out this paper by Harvard University economist who was retained as a consultant to help create the system.

Co-author is Alvin Roth, George Gund Professor of Economics (FAS) and George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration (Business School) Primary Fields of Interest: Game theory as a part of empirical economics, and experimental economic theory. Research Topics: Organization of labor (and other) markets, bargaining, learning in strategic environments.

Global Learning Collaborative School Day Tour

Friday, November 13th. Rachel is offering a tour for CS Families* DURING school hours, so that you can see the students and classes in action. Please send her an email or call her if you would like to attend on Friday afternoon, time TBA. Rachel is a former CS parent and parent leader, and would like to accommodate our community as best as possible!

Rachel Dahill-Fuchel
Academic Dean
The Global Learning Collaborative
145 West 84th street

* I imagine students from other schools would also be welcome. E-mail Rachel if you are interested.