Cheers and Sorrow As Charter School Lottery Unfolds
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Cheers mingled with many more tears last night in Brooklyn as anxious parents, many with their children in tow, packed into a public school auditorium on Van Siclen Avenue in East New York to learn whether they had won the lottery for admission into a new charter school this fall.
Although 617 names were entered into the lottery, only 125 sixth-graders’ names were pulled out of a golden tumbler, signifying admission to the first class of the United Federation of Teachers’ Secondary Charter School. The school, which will start with just a sixth-grade class, eventually will educate students from the sixth through the 12th grade by adding a new class a year.
Yesterday’s lottery was held at I.S. 166, the George Gershwin School. Under state law, if a charter school receives more applications than it has spots, it must use a lottery to determine which children are chosen. The new school is only the UFT’s second charter school. An elementary charter school started last fall.
Three months ago, administrators at the new UFT Secondary Charter School sent out a mass mailing to all parents of fifth-grade children in the East New York and Brownsville areas of Brooklyn. The school, which will have five classes of 25 students each, will share space with I.S. 166.
The mood in the room last night was nervous as Daniel Goodman, the head of the new charter school, began reading out the numbers: Number 552, number 528, and on he went, “Go to the next one,” a woman in the fifteenth row called out impatiently. “You gave the instructions. Go to the next one.”
“I can’t take it anymore,” one mother, Natalie Goodman, said about the public school system. Her son, Clyde Hudson, who held the lottery number 580, won one of the places.
Chere Flowers, whose 11-year-old daughter Alivia Gordon-Flowers also was chosen for the school, said that she’s looking forward to Alivia’s receiving “a better education than a lot of these public schools.” Ms. Flowers said that she has “issues with the public school system.”
Most parents left disappointed. “I don’t like the way they did this lottery system,” said Yolonda Orr, whose son Karron was not chosen. “It’s like putting them on an auction block.” She said that she will go back to applying to the better intermediate public schools, and hopes her son be accepted into one. She said she felt that many teachers “don’t care, especially in our neighborhoods – just want a paycheck.”
“I’m very disappointed that he wasn’t chosen,” Ms. Orr said on the subway home to Brownsville. “I wanted him to go to this charter school, and get a chance to start over with something new.”