Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eva Dearest's Chambers of Horrors

Success Academy achieves its very narrow successes through what can only be called the abuse of children.
How does Success Academy spell success?

·         S – Strict enforcement of a “no excuses” code of behavior

·         U – Underprepared and inexperienced teachers who can be bullied into long hours of work and who are malleable enough to accept a narrowed curriculum and prescriptive discipline policy

·         C - Curriculum that focuses on test preparation to the exclusion of deeper understanding, the arts, and physical education

·         C - Coercive discipline built on shaming students into compliance

·         E – Exclusion of students with learning differences, discipline problems, and English language  learners through repeated suspensions or requiring parents to come to school with the child every day.

·         S – Stressful, competitive, joyless learning environment

·         S – Systematic courting of support of politicians, including closing schools so parents and students can go to Albany to lobby legislators into giving Success Academy more money... 
A strong piece by Russ. What the interviews with Success parents showed - pro and con - is that the kids who sit still and never talk are ideal. Hey, to many public schools they are also ideal. No muss, no fuss. But actually, I wanted my kids to talk to each other. Part of our job is teaching social intercourse.

Success Academy, the New York City charter school chain run by the education reform darling Eva Moskowitz, has been a hot topic in the news lately, with two lengthy articles in the New York Times, here and here that highlighted Success Academy’s success in raising test scores, but which also raised questions about the methods used by the schools to achieve this success. 

It is clear from even a cursory look at the Success Academy test focused curriculum and draconian discipline policies that this type of “education” would be totally unacceptable to parents sending their children to public school in the suburbs. Is it acceptable to use these methods with inner city (mostly minority) children?
There is no question that children raised in poverty present unique and often intractable challenges to successful learning, but do we really want to say that the only way to make sure these kids do well in school is to submit them to a Dickension model of schooling?

It is a model of schooling deeply imbued with a prejudice against what Michael Harrington called the “Other America.” That is the poor America that we wish to see swept under the rug and where now 25% of America’s children live. Easier to blame the poor for their poverty and to treat their children as inferior beings meant to be driven to compliance through a school model designed by those who consider them inferior beings, than to actually grapple with the issue of poverty. 

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