The former Brandeis High School, which now holds Success Academy and other public schools.

Success Academy Upper West Side, the charter elementary school on West 84th street, touted statistics last week showing that the school had received 568 applications from within District 3 for 108 available seats in kindergarten, a ratio of 5.2 applications for every seat.

Success, which is co-located in the former Brandeis High School building, also received a surprising number of applications from the Upper West Side’s most sought-after schools, including 66 from students zoned for PS 199, 43 from PS 166 and 49 from PS 87, noted Success executive Ann Powell. (Powell said the applicants-per-seat number did not change much from last year to this year, and that they did not track the applications from top schools, so it’s not clear if they’re up or down.)

Success, which had to fight strong local opposition to open on the UWS a few years ago, is trying to show that there’s high demand for alternatives to neighborhood public schools  in the neighborhood. “SA Upper West is becoming a top choice even for those families who have the best zone school options,” Powell wrote.

But representatives from District 3 note that the district’s traditional public schools received even more applications as of the most recent data — the average traditional public school received 5.8 applications, and the six top schools received more than 10 applications per seat last year.

Part of the reason for these large application numbers at traditional and charter schools is that parents can apply to multiple schools when their kids are ready for kindergarten — just like college students who may apply to 5 or 10 schools, including some that are favorites and some that are “safety” schools.

In addition, it’s hard to make apples-to-apples comparisons with the data: the Success application process is different from the process for zoned public schools — Success gives priority to students from throughout the UWS, whereas traditional schools generally take kids from small zoned areas, and have few spaces for those outside of the zone.

Local officials think that Success sends out these statistics to market itself in a way that obfuscates the process.

“Success spends millions on marketing and cherry picks it’s kids and yet when a real apples to apples comparison takes place – whether in regard to student test scores or applications or enrollment – Success can’t compete with our public schools. Period,” wrote Noah Gotbaum, a member of parent group CEC3 who has been critical of Success and its leader Eva Moskowitz.

Joe Fiordaliso, the CEC3 president, says that many parents at top Upper West Side schools apply to several other schools, including charters, because of the huge waiting list at the top schools — there’s no guarantee that you’ll get into your local public school even if you live right across the street. “It’s no surprise that parents would want to give themselves another option,” he said.

Bottom line: both Success and many traditional public schools on the Upper West Side are very popular, and parents have lots of strong options. The real debate over education on the Upper West Side is not over whether parents would rather attend PS 87 or Success — the debate over these schools isn’t so much about quality as it is about different teaching styles. The real debate is about whether charter schools are the right way to improve education at struggling local schools. At those schools, enrollment numbers will be more telling than application numbers, because you can apply to several schools but only enroll in one.

For those still interested in applying to Success Academy Upper West Side, the application deadline is April 1. The Kindergarten application period is already over at traditional public schools. The pre-K deadline is April 24 — apply here.

NEWS, SCHOOLS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Eddie says:

      All of these numbers are totally distorted, particularly those for SA. We live in a top UWS zone and applied to SA even though we had almost no intention of sending our child there. It takes 30 seconds to apply so it didn’t hurt to do so. I would be very curious to know the zoned schools for the students who actually end up going to SA. I would be willing to bet the bulk of the students live 5+ blocks north of the school. Not to knock SA – it is a wonderful alternative for many students. But I am very tired of their propaganda.

      • webot says:

        that’s nice Eddie. I am tired of the propaganda from the Teacher’s Union who appear to only care about themselves and maintaining the status quo – blaming everyone else for the failure of the schools, but not the teachers.

        Clearly there are some teachers who should be doing something else, and yet just try and fire one – they get to sit in a room for decades doing nothing at taxpayer (and children’s) expense.

        The charter schools are doing something right. Why not learn from them and adopt it systemwide. Instead they just slander and defame. At the expense of yet another generation lost.

        • Sami-Beth says:

          Charter schools don’t take nearly as many low-income, special needs, or English-language-learning students. So when every kid in your class is well fed, speaks English and has no learning disabilities or conduct disorders, SURPRISE! Test scores go up. This isn’t because charter schools are better, it’s because theyre not educating everyone, which is what public schools are meant to do. I have a masters degree and I am a teacher. Understanding this correlation isn’t difficult and you’d have to be stupid not to see how ignoring a problem does not solve it. I have professional experience that relates to the subject matter What is your expertise, aside from bloviating?

          • webot says:

            SB: Your statement is factually incorrect and part of the lies spread by the teachers union.

            Charters do NOT cherry pick. simple as that.

            Why do not even want to admit that some charters are helping some kids ? what are you afraid of? do you care about these kids futures? I am not an educator, no, but I can have my opinion, without personal attacks.


            • Sami Beth says:

              Yes, they do. They can chose who they accept even if admissions are done via a lottery. Admissions are a 2 step process, with “enrollement” as the second step. Simply put, I know what in talking about and you do not.

            • Sami Beth says:

              via Diana Ravich:
              “Whether on purpose or by accident, it is clear that charter schools are cherry-picking students. This may be because they spend most of their marketing budgets, which are vast and had been subsidized by the public schools for many years, on outreach to only specific students. This may be because they refuse to enroll students, even those who win the lottery, if they do not attend pre-enrollment summer school or meet other criteria. It may be because students who misbehave are suspended or expelled at sky-high rates. It may be because the parents of students with challenges do not bother to apply. Whatever the causal explanation, charter schools serve a select student population.”


          • webot says:

            I know this: I care about children. You do not.

            You care about your job(s). I do not.

            Every charter school i have seen is basically all minority kids.

            Why not see what they are doing right. Are you telling me the status quo of the public schools is acceptable? its not.

            maybe you should explore another career.

            • Sami Beth says:

              did you read what I posted? At all? First you say that chaeter schools dont cherrypick and then when I provide explicit evidence that this is occurring, you switch to “you don’t care about kids you only care about your JOB” my job is caring about kids. All kids. Every kid. Even the ones that might be difficult to educate.

              Your seem to offer this as proof that chaeter schools educate all types of students: “Every charter school I’ve seen is basically full of minority kids.” What does this imply???? That the presence of minorities must indicate that low-income, special needs students or English language learning students are present? it doesn’t. In fact, it’s completely irrelevant and speaks to what you (incorrectly) assume is the primary challenge of education.

              I’ll be lesson planning for the rest of the evening, so enjoy whatever conversation you’ll be having with yourself here.

            • Beth says:

              An important question to ask here is, “What is a grammar school doing in a high school building?” D3 desperately needs high school space. It’s time for UWSA to move out.

        • Eddie says:

          If you read my comment more carefully you would note that I said that SA is very good for many students, meaning that it is better than the alternative options for many students, so it serves a valuable purpose. However, for those who live in the 60s, 70s and 80s on the UWS, I believe, and I think most would agree, that it is not currently a better option. It seems like their administration is trying incorrectly to convince us otherwise.

    2. bryan10024 says:

      “But I am very tired of their propaganda.”

      Unlike the parent groups & public school teacher’s union propaganda which NEVER gets tiring.

      “Noah Gotbaum, a member of parent group CEC3 who has been critical of vaccinations and Every Child By Two organization.”

      • Paul says:

        Can you cite any references for the quoted statements about Gotbaum?

      • West Sider says:

        Bryan10024, do you have a source to cite for this statement about Gotbaum’s alleged views on vaccinations? If not, we will delete it. WSR

    3. Pedestrian says:

      SA distorted the numbers? What a shock, not. Charter schools have been distorting numbers for years and draining public coffers to boot. It is time to reinvest in true public schools.

    4. marcy says:

      Success Academy’s admissions are by lottery. The statistics discussed in this article are about admissions. The important figures are the scores that their students attain on math and English proficiency vs. the scores attained at NYC non-charter public schools. All the propaganda in the world cannot change this. And the accusation of cherry-picking, made in this article by the “anti-vaccination” head of some parent group, comes straight from the teacher’s union. The NY Times has had very good articles about this topic. You may not like the existence of charter schools – that is your right – but knowingly to repeat the same assertions over and over is disdainful of the electorate and of confused parents.

    5. UWS mom says:

      Parents from good zones, eg 199, 87, apply to Success as a back up in case they can’t get into their zoned school because of huge wait lists. This is total propaganda from SA. The key question is how many kids who get into both a good zoned school and SA end up choosing SA over their zoned school. I suspect very few, if any. Who would opt for SA when you can go to a wonderful neighborhood school with an involved parent body?

      • marcy says:

        The key question is the test results for the students at SA (picked by lottery) vs. at the schools of the “top UWS zone.”

        • UWS mom says:

          My friend who was a teacher at a charter school said that the students are prepped like crazy for tests, and the teachers (many of whom are recent college grads) work investment banking hours for low pay. There is high teacher turnover because of the work conditions, but charter schools don’t care since they can just hire more recent college grads. Sounds like a terrible school environment to me, one that I would not want my child to be in. Not to mention the fact that test scores in New York State don’t really have much meaning, what with the ridiculous Pearson tests. Congratulations, charter schools, you teach to a crappy test and get good test scores.

          • Sami Beth says:

            This is frighteningly accurate.

            • webot says:

              yes better they should drop out, fail out, not be prepared to work or college, get pregnant, go on drugs, repeat the cycle.

              But Hey SB gets to keep her benefits and cushy summer off.

              Along with those retired teachers collecting $100k+ in retirement yearly in Florida.