Saturday, November 07, 2015

Eva's response

Here's Eva's response:
Yesterday The New York Times ran another story about Success Academy, this time using one incident and the experiences of four parents to suggest a network-wide practice of pushing children out. This theme is not new. Two weeks ago, it was PBS, and there were many instances before that. In these articles, the journalists overlook an important fact that disproves their conspiracy theories: Our student retention data shows definitively that we retain more kids than the district schools.

The Times article reports on a "got to go" list of 16 scholars at Fort Greene who were disrupting the school. That list was made a year ago, and it was a serious mistake. Within hours of the list being emailed, many people at Success Academy were horrified. Such a practice/idea goes against our belief system. An investigation was conducted and leaders were reprimanded. SA believes that our mission is to educate all children. We must and do go to extraordinary lengths to make Success Academy schools work for children. 

When a child is challenging or a parent is not on board, we don't give up. We have an obligation to try to make the partnership with families work. But we also have an obligation to balance the needs of all the children in a school. We must ensure the safety of all children and staff, and it is sometimes appropriate to suspend a child. The misconceptions around suspensions and special education are grossly unfair and hurtful to the extraordinarily committed and caring leaders, teachers and network staff who work day and night to help children achieve their fullest potential.

This afternoon, we organized a press conference at Success Academy Harlem 2. I was very proud to stand with our leaders from across the network to share our philosophy, our practices, and our values, and it is because of you that we have been able to bring those values of joyful rigor and high academic standards to 34 schools across four boroughs of the city. You can see the full press conference by opening (the link may only be live for 24 hours).

Thank you for all you have done and are doing to make their work possible.


Eva Moskowitz
Founder and CEO
Below is the NYT article about her press conference:

Eva S. Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Academy charter school network, said on Friday that a list singling out children under the heading "Got to Go" was an anomaly and that the network did not have a practice of pushing out students it saw as difficult.

Ms. Moskowitz said that as soon as the network learned about the list, Success Academy quickly reprimanded the principal who had created it.

The list included the names of 16 students. It was created in December at the direction of Candido Brown, who had just become the principal of Success Academy Fort Greene.

Ms. Moskowitz said the school, which then went through second grade, had severe disciplinary problems. Mr. Brown previously said in an email that he believed he could not turn the school around if the 16 students remained.

Success Academy is New York City's largest charter school network and serves mostly black and Hispanic students, who perform much better on state tests than the citywide averages. The network's critics have long argued that it achieves those results in part by weeding out weak or difficult students, and the list appeared to lend some validity to those accusations.

Ms. Moskowitz, who spoke on Friday at a news conference, said that the list existed for only three days before Mr. Brown was admonished and that he changed course. Nonetheless, nine of the students on the list eventually left the school.

Parents of four of them said that school or network employees told them that the school was not right for their children and that they should withdraw. They described repeated suspensions, multiple daily phone calls and frequent demands to pick their children up from school early, which made their lives difficult and in some cases contributed to their decisions to leave.

Ms. Moskowitz, a former member of the City Council, said the fact that the network chastised Mr. Brown so quickly showed that his actions did not reflect the network's approach.

"A mistake was made here, and I take personal responsibility as the leader of this organization," she said.

"But I take credit for the fact that we acted swiftly to address the mistake, to correct his understanding and the school community's understanding," she added.

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