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DOE decision not to expand New American Academy not a first

The Daily News reported this week that the Department of Education had withdrawn its proposal to add a middle school to Brooklyn’s New American Academy, an unusual school that boasts classes of 60 students and an emphasis on teacher training.

The decision seemed surprising, because the school’s model has won praise from city and union officials alike. But the school posted very low test scores this year, and city officials said they want to review its progress before deciding whether to expand it.

This wasn’t the first time that the Department of Education has taken a pass at growing New American Academy. Last year, founding principal Shimon Waronker applied to open a charter school after the city declined to replicate his school. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Just why Waronker’s preliminary talks with the department did not move forward is not clear. A spokeswoman for the department said he had not submitted a formal proposal to open a new school. She declined to comment on informal conversations between Waronker and city officials about expansion or even confirm that talks had taken place.

But other union officials suggested that top officials at the department had told Waronker to cool his heels because brokering an agreement with the UFT would be politically treacherous at a time when the city and union are locked in a high-profile fight over teacher evaluations. Making side deals about individual schools just isn’t high on either the city’s or the union’s lists, the officials said.

The district school also does not have a track record of success yet. Last year, its oldest students were in second grade, so the school has no state test scores to boast. (M.S. 22 grew safer under Waronker’s watch, which lasted from 2004 to 2008, but performance continued to lag. This year, it wound up on the city’s list of schools to overhaul.)

The New American Academy Charter School opened this fall on the Tilden Educational Campus in Brooklyn.

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