Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fighting Eva at the Ramparts: Use Publicity to Affect Her Enrollment and Reduce Profitability

I get these emails all the time because the UFT is absent from this battle (except for some minor efforts). The other day from a parent in District 30 and now from a Harlem teacher. Eva is our best organizer as people looked to GEM and now MORE to assist them in the absence of the UFT from this fight.
Norm, do you have information to convey to me as to how to stop Eva Moskowitz from bringing her Harlem Success Academy into a school. The school is having a meeting tomorrow to with parents, staff and political officials to discuss how to stop this woman.

01: How can the school show and prove how unfair it is for Moskowitz to bring in over 500 of their students and displace about 80 students in a current school?

02: Can the Campaign for Fiscal Equity be used to be thwart Moskowitz's grab for all of the money that should go to the traditional public school kids?

03: What arguments can be presented to parents, staff, politicians and others to use against Moskowitz to galvanize support and belief that the school can be saved?

04: What successes have been used to stop Moskowitz?
My response was:
I have to tell you that no one has been able to stop her. The city is in her hand. The state is in her hand and the UFT is toothless -- they are the only ones with the power and money to do anything. Some parent groups are out there fighting. Until we can stop mayoral control (which the UFT supports) they can do anything they want.
I immediately contacted Brooke Parker, a WAGPOPS Williamsburg based parent activist who, given what looks like another Eva slam dunk, offers some hope based on educating as many people as possible. You can see some of those efforts with this post on Ed Notes the other day: Brooklyn Success Academy Parents Dropping Out.

Here is Brooke's comment:
Eva's won just about every fight she's fought. But here are some of the things we did that helped change local public opinion and impacted her enrollment of students in our district:

- Gather information about your area schools - how many K-5s do you have? What are their pops of Free lunch, Reduced lunch, ELL, etc.,

- Develop partnerships with your local activists from other fronts - environment, immigration, people of color, workers rights, etc., These issues are tied together.

- We had someone sign up for the Success Academy mailing list who pretended to be interested to spy and get us all kinds of information, including when they were holding information sessions. We had about 20 parents with their children stand outside a Success Academy "Meet the Principal" event passing out this flyer and flyers about neighborhood schools and warmly invited those parents to meet OUR principals and tour OUR schools. I'd never seen Eva & her crew sweat so hard.

- CONSTANTLY stress that these schools are NOT for your neighborhood kids - particularly the ELLs. Norm wrote about how their handbook wasn't even available in Spanish (though it might be now), but it still points out how ELL and working parents are unable to thrive in that environment.

- The message we put out there is that our neighborhood schools are strong and we want our kids in class together.

I'm enclosing an example of a sheet we put together.
See text below and note that this is the work the UFT should be using its resources to doing instead of pouring good money after bad into its own co-located charter school. Note the GEM link -- again -- doing the work the UFT didn't.

Unpack the Marketing: The Hallmarks of Success Academy 

Success Academy spends well over $1 Million on marketing to promote their charter schools. What have these brochures been promoting? Is there truth in their marketing?
Why are so many parents across NYC protesting Success Academy? 

Will Success Academy Williamsburg have “excellent educators”? 

- Success Academy teachers are vastly inexperienced, rookie teachers with less than three years in the classroom. There is abundant evidence that shows that teacher experience matters, particularly a teacher’s first five years in the classroom.
- Success Academy has a history of high teacher and principal turnover with teacher attrition rates that range from 19% to 50% with many teachers leaving mid-year. High teacher turnover points to a poor working (and learning) environment. Numerous studies point to the negative impact of teacher turnover on student achievement and well being. A former teacher describes, “You couldn’t teach in the way you wanted to teach,” she said. “If your kids weren’t sitting perfectly, looking straight at the teacher, not saying a single word, then you weren’t doing your job.” NYTimes 10/19/2011 

Will Success Academy Williamsburg offer “individualized attention”? 

- Eva Moskowitz has repeatedly denied the proven benefits of small class sizes, outspokenly promoting classes of upwards of 30 students with a single teacher. Class size reduction is one of very few reforms that have been shown to narrow the achievement gap, improving learning for all students, no matter their background. 

Will Success Academy offer real opportunities for “parent involvement”?
  • -  Success Academy Parents have absolutely no input into curriculum or school programming. The Success Academy concept of parent involvement is the bare minimum any parent can expect. Our neighborhood public schools offer parents the opportunity to reshape their schools and develop programming in their schools - including foreign language, music, art, culinary science, and dance.
  • -  The Success Academy Handbook details the involvement expected by parents. The Success Academy notion of parent involvement includes punishing parents and children if their children come to school later than 7:45 am with “Saturday Academy” or “Fix It Academy.” Parent illness is no excuse for tardiness or absence, nor are bad weather, doctor’s appointments, or trouble with public transportation. 

    What does it mean that Success Academy has “high expectations”?
    • -  Success Academy has a terrible history of “counseling out” kids with special needs that will not test well who then get funneled back into our public schools. Those children are primarily English Language Learners (ELLs), Title 1 children, and children with special needs or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
    • -  In a letter to a parent of a child who had behavioral problems, Eva Moskowitz wrote, “a nine-hour day with more than 23 children (and that’s our small class size!) where they are constantly being asked to focus and concentrate can overwhelm children and be a bad environment.” NYTimes 7/10/2011 

      What is Success Academy’s “proven record of success”? 

      - Examining their enrollment data, there is a stark drop as students get older. Kindergarten is a full class (135 kids), but by 3rd, 4th and 5th grade, when they are given the standardized tests, those numbers are between 30 and 60 students.
      - The high test scores are less significant when one considers how many students Success Academy failed to educate along the way. 

      What else do you need to know about Success Academy? 

      • -  Eva Moskowitz pays herself upwards of $400,00 annually and has proposed charter management fees ($2,000 per student) of twice the average of other charter management organizations. This is money will not be spent in the classroom.
      • -  Success Academy’s co-location in JHS50 will take away valuable space from JHS50. Charter schools that co-locate within public schools have a terrible history of squeezing out public school computer labs, libraries, art rooms, music rooms, and mixed use rooms for special needs kids. Charter school co-locations also lead to the significant increase in class size in the schools whose space they share. 

        Williamsburg parents and community leaders are united in opposition to Success Academy. FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION AT: GEMNYC.ORG
We our Neighborhood Schools
You are ALL invited to enroll in our excellent Williamsburg neighborhood public schools! No lottery necessary!
You are under no obligation to attend Success Academy, so find out about some of your other choices!
Success Academy opens in August, but come September 6th, should you find that your child is not happy there, our neighborhood schools will be delighted to include your family in our local school communities.
Our neighborhood schools believe that elementary school should be a time of exploration where children feel safe to take risks. Every child is unique and learns at their own pace. They recognize that children learn at different rates, with different strengths and styles. Creativity and independent thinking matters.
Our neighborhood schools offer academic rigor without punishment and without sacrificing creativity.
Our district has plenty of excellent schools. Here are two options for you to consider within a few blocks of JHS50.

PS84 Jose de Diego Magnet School for the Visual Arts
250 Berry Street (718) 384-8063
Dual language Spanish program to develop fluency in both Spanish and English
NEST program with a 6-1 student/teacher ratio
Academically rigorous curriculum with a focus on the arts along with numerous collaborations with arts organizations State of the art hydroponic Greenhouse Classroom
PS414 Brooklyn Arbor Magnet School of Global and Ethical Studies
325 South 3rd Street (718) 935-3597
New elementary school opening in Fall 2012 and un-zoned
Dual language Spanish program to develop fluency in both Spanish and English
Technology infused curriculum that focuses on exploration, discovery and practice in nature
Planning for out-of-area visits including wilderness trips and partnerships with the Great Outdoors Club
What do our Neighborhood Schools offer vs. Success Academy?
Success Academy
Neighborhood Schools
Welcomes all children in the neighborhood
Parents involved in shaping school budget and curriculum
Commitment to educate every child in the community
Rigor and high expectations without punishment
Recruits teachers with training and more than 3 years classroom experience
Recruits teachers with Masters Degrees + 30 hours
Promotes good citizenship and involvement in the community
High rate of returning teachers reflecting a good working and learning environment
Hires principals with more than 10 years of leadership/classroom experience
Cares about the whole child (intellectual, social, and emotional well being)
Teachers trained to meet every child where they are and ensure that they are challenged at the best pace for them
Small class size prioritized for individual attention
Budgets well over $1 MILLION for marketing - over $1,300 for each available seat.
Come tour our schools! Our parents are happy to share why we chose our neighborhood schools.
Find out more about our schools at or email us at

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