Saturday, April 7, 2012

Success Academy Family Handbook (Only Available in English): An Expert's Guide to Manipulation, Part 1

What better proof for all the ills of many charter schools, but especially those under Eva Moskowitz than this handbook for parents from Eva's scam factory, accused of trying to avoid Spanish speaking kids, often the lowest scorers due to language issues? And what a nice way to force out non-compliant parents, especially Spanish speaking who can't read the handbook in English. If a public school were to try this they would be brought up on charges.

I also want to repeat this item from my earlier post from Gary Rubinstein in comparing Harlem Success school with PS 149 with which it is co-located:
"Harlem Success has 64% free lunch versus 78% for P.S. 149, 15% special ed versus 24%, and 6% English language learners versus 10%.  One other detail missing is a curious amount of attrition for the third and fourth grade cohorts.  Harlem Success’s 83 kindergartners and 73 first graders in 2006 had dwindled to just 63 third graders and 59 fourth graders in 2009.  This is a stunning 22% decrease.  Meanwhile in P.S. 149 they went from 39 kindergartners in 2006 up to 44 third graders in 2009 and from 45 kindergartners in 2005 to 44 fourth graders in 2009.
And I'm adding this must-read analysis from Chalk Face.

A parent activist writes:
Weeks after putting in my FOIL requests, I finally got a copy of Success Academy's standardized Family Handbook and Parent/Guardian Contract

I requested the handbooks in every language available, and it is only available in English. This is significant in that the handbook is pretty detailed, including legislating that parents read to their children nightly (in English) and overseeing all of their homework (in English).

Their enrollment letters (in English) require attendance to a "Welcome Meeting" where they go over parenting receive all of their materials and must sign the Contract. It is more than reasonable to assume that this meeting is conducted in English exclusively.

As we all suspected, they legislate parent engagement:

"All attendance infractions, incomplete homework assignments or reading logs and missed Family Academic Events are considered violations of our school policies. Those with excessive violations may be required to attend Saturday Academy, Fix-It Academy, a meeting with the school leader, or similar event."

- Parent illness, bad weather, trouble with public transportation and doctor's appointments are not considered an "excused absence"  (Bedbugs are an excused absence, though.)
- All homework must be signed off by the parent daily
- Summer and holiday homework must be 100% complete on the day it is due. "No exceptions and no shortcuts!"
- K-2 parents are required to read to their scholar daily and complete a monthly reading log.  "We expect no less than 100% completion of reading logs every month. An incomplete reading log is just as serious and disruptive to your child's education as a missed day of school or an incomplete homework assignment."

Their list of infractions is pretty intense:

Level 1 infractions:
- Slouching / failing to be in "Magic/5/Ready to Succeed" position
- Calling out an answer
- Having an un-tucked shirt
- Bringing candy or gum to school
- Rolling eyes or other minor disrespectful behavior
- Wearing jewelry (modest religious jewelry permissible)
- Wearing makeup

Level 2 infractions
- Committing a Level 1 infraction after intervention
- Being off-task or unprepared for class
- Failing to follow directions or complete work
- Disrupting class or educational process in any way
- Getting out of your seat without permission
- Inappropriate noise levels in lunchroom, gym, and during arrival and dismissal
- Engaging in unsafe behavior
- Excluding classmates during recess
- Using school equipment without permission
- Verbally dishonoring a fellow student (which includes but is not limited to teasing, name calling, being rude, mocking, etc.,)
- Verbally dishonoring faculty, staff, or other Success Academy community members (which includes but is not limited to being rude, disobeying instructions, etc.,)
Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 1 Infractions
- Warning / reprimand
- Reminder of appropriate Behavior
- Given productive alternative / choice

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 2 Infractions
- Removal from classroom for "Time Out" outside of the classroom (administrator's office)
- Student - Teacher - Parent conference
- Student - Parent - Administrator Conference
- In-school disciplinary action (which includes but is not limited to exclusion from recess, communal lunch, enrichment activities, sports, school events, trips, or activitiees)
- Verbal or written apology to community
- Other consequences / responses deemed appropriate by school (including but not limited to extended suspension for a fixed period or explusion)

Level 3 Infractions
- Committing a Level 2 Infraction after intervention
- Using foul or discriminatory language
- Posting or distributing inappropriate materials (which includes but is not limited to unauthorized materials, defamatory or libelous materials, or threatening materials)
- Forgery of any kind
- Lying or providing false or misleading information to school personnel
- Engaging in any academic dishonesty (which includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarizing, copying another's work, or colluding / fraudulent collaboration without expressed permission from a school authority)
- Tampering with school records or school documents / materials by any method
- Falsely activating a fire alarm or other disaster alarm or making false threats of any kind
- Vandalizing school property or property belonging to another person without authorization
- Throwing any objects
- Engaging in inappropriate or unwanted physical contact
- Fighting or engaging in physically aggressive behavior of any kind (which includes but is not limited to play fighting, horsing around, shoving, pushing, or any unwanted or aggressive physical contact)
- Leaving class, school-related activity, or school premises without school authorization
- Repeated failing to show up to class, school, or any activity or event and/or repeatedly violating school attendance policy

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 3 Infractions
- Sent to Principal / Dean of Students
- Loss of classroom / school privileges
- Additional assignments
- Call home to parents
- In-school suspension (possibly immediate)
- Out-of-school suspension (possibly immediate)
- Other consequences / responses deemed appropriate by school (including but not limited to extended suspension for a fixed period)

Level 4 Infractions
- Committing a Level 3 Infraction after intervention
- Exhibiting blatant and repeated disrespect for school code, policies, community, or culture
- Engaging in gang-related behavior
- Destroying or attempting to destroy school property
- Engaging in intimidation, bullying, harassment, coercion, or extortion or threatening violence, injury, or harm to others
- Engaging in behavior which creates a substantial risk of or results in injury / assault against any member of the school community
- Engaging in sexual, racial, or any other type of haassment
- Participating in an incident of group violence

Range of School Responses, Interventions, & Consequences for Level 4 Infractions
In-school suspension (possibly immediate)
- Out-of-school suspension (possibly immediate)
- Other consequences / responses deemed appropriate by school (including but not limited to extended suspension for a fixed period)
- Expulsion


Pete Zucker said...

I think Auschwitz was more lenient.

chalk face said...

Anonymous said...

We should get that declining enrollment into a chart. You know, implementing our inter-curricular applied math skills.

The poster of it will make a great sight for a walk-through, to show the visiting Tweedies.

Anonymous said...

You all should start channeling this energy and never ending interweb research hours into improving public schools and enacting real change or reform instead of harping on any particular charters (preconceived views or not).....

ed notes online said...

I am channeling all that work into improving the public schools by doing everything expose the Success Charter Academy scam.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am failing to see how that improves traditional public schools...

ed notes online said...

Getting rid of Success co-locos improves public schools many of which would rather have rats.

Anonymous said...

Ah so there is a direct stat linking Success Academy co-locations and academic achievement....interesting. When you get around to it, please publish that along with the statistics on traditional public school co-locations (which I presume are similar).

ed notes online said...

How do you spell c-h-e-r-r-y p-i-c-k-i-n-g?

Anonymous said...

How do you spell y-a-w-n?

Anonymous said...

They have a $1.7 million dollar advertising budget and bring in catered food every single day. They have resources to burn at Success Academy Charter School, yet have pushed out over 10 students who then enrolled in my public school. It is unfathomable to me that my school is now doing the work that Success Academy Charter School couldn't do with at least 50 times the resources(my rough guess). These families tell the same story of Success Academy staff harassing them to get their children to meet the needs of the school while their children's needs were not being met. My school is now working to meet the needs of the students Success Academy Charter School didn't want with a fraction of the resources that Success Academy has at their disposal. It is inexcusable.

Jon Gottesman said...

Actually, there is a direct link to improved performance at district schools when high performing charters are co-located. Even Bill de Blasio acknowledges the validity of the research. If you want to talk about the community angle, that's one thing, but co-locating high performing charters in district school buildings is actually a very good thing for district schools. Should also mention the fact that some 700+ traditional public schools (out of 1700) are co-located in other traditional public school buildings.

Cindy said...

Where do children ever learn about democracy at these schools? The expectations are not even in line with human development. It makes a mockery of education. This handbook should be published by the NYTimes. When you think of it, it reads like the retraining and indoctrination processes used in China and Russia during the communist era. Unbelievable.

ed notes online said...

From Lisa Donlan: Part 1

Anonymous, troll, shill, a rose by any other name...

Please do not take cover behind "traditional" public school colocations.

Two wrongs do not make a right!

When engineered by DoE these "traditional" colocations are just as bad and just as harmful- the difference being that there is not quite the same imbalance of power in that brand of "principals cage fighting" that DoE sets up.

Whether an authorized charter or a DoE designed-by-committee new school is parachuted out of a vacuum into a community school building,it creates issues around space and scheduling.

Space is equally misnamed, miscounted and mis-measured by DoE's standardized tools that are biased for overcrowding (the Blue Book, the footprint, that over count class sizes, and under provide room allocations for support and enrichment), counting all buildings - no matter the design or era, and all populations whether gen ed or high needs, poor or rich, requiring SETSS, therapies or not, the same and standard ( BIG FAT LIE number 1).

The difference is in the juice that folks have when the cage fighting begins.

The EIS that are supposed to asses the impact of the colocation all say there is plenty of room and there will be no impact ( BIG FAT LIES numbers Two and Three).

The BUP describes a cursory plan for sharing space the first year, when only a few rooms will be taken away from the current configuration as the new school starts out w/ a grade or two in the first year. The space planning wonks treat each schedule as equivalent- whether the schools use 45, 60 or 90 minutes blocks is not part of the centralized calculus- and divide the common spaces up as if any class can take any share of the space at any hour of the day (despite the reality of schedule variations), this declaring "plenty of time for all " in the play yard, auditorium, cafeteria and labs.

Yet there is no plan for the subsequent years. Principals will work this out in their stripped down building councils ( aka cage fighting)or BIG FAT LIE number Four.

There are no common authorities to arbitrate- each network leader with its varying amounts of juice or smarts is pitted against the other in the district colocations, while in the charters it is that CMO's power, reach connections and favor that determine the outcome.

We all saw Eva and Joel's email thanks to Juan Gonzales, and know that what Eva wants Eva gets. No one can help the poor colocated victim school.

And if the arbitration of Central is brought in it is only as a big stick to punish everyone for not just getting along.

The trick used there is to create a compromise SO BAD ( for kids) that the principals find a way to work something out anything out since it has to be better.

The DoE's contentions that principals in their building councils make decisions about how to use their resources and enjoy flexibility under their empowered networked free-of-the -yoke-of-districts status is BIG FAT LIE number Five, when it comes to how they can "flexibly schedule" space.

ed notes online said...

From Lisa Donlan Part 2

The formulas are rigid, non giving and remove any possibility for programming or pedagogical flexibility. Innovation it seems is reserved for charter schools these days.

Want to spend more money on staff to reduce class size?

can't do it- no room!

Want to provide small groups instruction to high needs kids?

can't do it- no room.

Want to allow kids in self contained classes to integrate with the school and travel class to class like other students? can't do it- each room must be used every period.

Want to provide long blocks of learning?

can't do it because then the kids won't get access to the over crowded, over scheduled gym, etc, etc, etc.

In District One we have been sharing space for decades.

Local educators and community members created schools that that were innovative and flexible and appealed to parents and improved student outcomes.

The new schools grew in buildings that were in fact underutilized, and 5 year MOU's were set up to insure a reasonable plan for growth and equitable sharing by all parties.

A common instructional leader/support system/rating officer ( the Community Sup and staff) was in charge of the process.

When there is enough room for all needed services and instruction, and the schools/ their leaders behave honorably, transparently and fairly, with the best interests of all kids at heart it can work. When no one school has more power, access or resources than another it can work in a mutually beneficial way for all schools. There can be best practices, synergy or at least good neighborliness in these cases.

When ANY of these ingredients are missing then you have tension, conflict and distraction at best.

You have disasters and inequity and harm to kids and their learning at the worst end of the spectrum.

too long!

what should I do instead?

Irony of ironies- look at the examples DoE uses to justify their lousy inept hands-off practices, from a recent public comments analysis of a local coloco hearing;

The DOE currently manages other campuses where elementary schools are co-located

with high schools, including the Julia Richman Educational Complex, which houses Ella

Baker (a K-8 school), four high schools, and part of a District 75 special education

program; Building M013, which houses Central Park East I Elementary School, Central

Park East High School, a middle school, and another elementary school; and the Adlai

Stevenson Campus which houses eight high schools, an Alternative Learning Center, and

the full-day pre-kindergarten sections of elementary school P.S. 138; and the Brandeis

Campus, which serves five high schools and Upper West Success Charter Elementary

School. The DOE is not aware of any unusual discipline problems caused by the colocation of elementary age students with high school age students in those buildings. The

DOE, in consultation with the Building Council, will, where possible, allocate contiguous

and dedicated space to the elementary students to ensure the safety of all students.

Additionally, there is no need to adapt bathroom facilities for use by young children, as

current standard-size facilities are suitable for young children, just as standard-sized

facilities are acceptable for their use in other settings, including in the children’s homes."

I hope others will comment on these "examples" of colocations that work- and tell us if they work why they work and how the DoE did or did not c

ed notes online said...

Lisa Donlan missing last sent:

contribute to or create the conditions for their success.

ed notes online said...

"Even Bill de Blasio acknowledges the validity of the research"

You've got to be kidding. You mean the same De Blasio who hopes to get some charter lobby cash for his run for mayor?

And we're not talking about 2 or 3 public schools co-locating a building, all under the management -- however piss poor it is of the DOE.
We're talking not only a charter, but EVA who gobbles up a school's resources and aims to kill the public school so she can get the building.
Guess you Success trolls are not too happy with the handbook being out there. Why not pub on your web site for all to see?

Anonymous said...

I am guessing the teachers union contract would be a better document to post in a public forum....your narrow perspective is comical though

ed notes online said...

Want me to send you one? One thing you won't publish -- your pushout rates. The lost children. 22% gone between k and 3rd grade? What do you have left when they get to MS? Nice country club --- at our expense. Gravy train will end.
Looks like you're feeling the heat.

Jon Gottesman said...

Norm, those numbers for HSA1 versus P.S. 149 don't mean anything. So many families move around that there is natural attrition (5-6% per year doesn't sound very high to me). Same thing goes with P.S. 149. Would need to look at the actual names to get an apples to apples comparison as there's nothing to suggest that 44 fourth graders in 2009 are all the same kids as the 45 kindergarteners from 2005. In fact, I'd be willing to bet you that 2-3 kids left P.S. 149 each year and some new kids came in (meaning P.S. 149 would have a 22% attrition rate over the same four years).

Anonymous said...

What exactly is "gang-related behavior"? Throwing up a sign? Do teachers know a sign when they see one? Seems to me that "gang-related behavior" is pretty much covered by other regulations. Unless, of course, the school means standing in the back of class dealing crack or pointing a Glock at another student's head.

As a veteran teacher, I have always wanted my students to WANT to be in my class. They can't learn if they're anxious or nervous or scared to speak up. These rules are punitive to the point of working against learning. This doesn't mean I don't discipline my kids when I have to. My students know where the boundaries are. But if I were a student, I'd choose a different school.

ed notes online said...

You unwittingly make our point. Sure 149 lost kids but they get replaced so by 4th gr they are still with the same number but I would bet at least 22% turnover with no handbook to enforce parent compliance--- public schools have a lot of turnover which is why charter comparisons are distortions since many don't take kids if they didn't start there --- unless they get a sure bet scorer they can sneak in.
Do you know how many kids we had when I taught who went to PR or DR for the holidays and stayed an extra week? In your school they would be out and right back in our schools.
Here are the actual numbers which I published above:
"Harlem Success has 64% free lunch versus 78% for P.S. 149, 15% special ed versus 24%, and 6% English language learners versus 10%. One other detail missing is a curious amount of attrition for the third and fourth grade cohorts. Harlem Success’s 83 kindergartners and 73 first graders in 2006 had dwindled to just 63 third graders and 59 fourth graders in 2009. This is a stunning 22% decrease. Meanwhile in P.S. 149 they went from 39 kindergartners in 2006 up to 44 third graders in 2009 and from 45 kindergartners in 2005 to 44 fourth graders in 2009.

Jon Gottesman said...

Norm, I think you need to look at the total number of Free & Reduced Lunch (not just Free Lunch)...the numbers are much closer. As for ELL, you know public schools do everything they can to hold on to that designation as they are paid more for ELL. Harlem Success works really hard to overcome ELL and special ed and reclassify kids and they do a great job. As for you second sentence, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make as the second half of "Sure 149 lost kids but they get replaced so by 4th gr they are still with the same number but I would bet at least 22% turnover with no handbook to enforce parent compliance..." doesn't make sense to me.

ed notes online said...

Sure Jon. I know how they classify kids. They just drop the service or tell the parents that can't offer the service. I do like that commitment to ELLs. Send me a copy of the Spanish version of the handbook.

ed notes online said...

On the PS 149 numbers I'll elaborate. You claim that they also prob lost 22% between K and 3 but in their case look at their numbers -- they went up in the number of kids. But these are prob not all the same kids due to kids moving etc. So 149 gains kids bet k and 3 but suffers from the turnover issue which we know -- transient kids have more problems while HSA loses the transients or does pushouts and doesn't replace them --- and we know gr 3 is the real testing grade so it is a scam to claim you do better. If pub schools could do what you guys do -- you would do worse. Why? bec pub schools have more experienced teachers with often less turnover.

Anonymous said...

I can attest to this statement, I'm currently being harrassed and bullied to remove my child out of Success Academy

Anonymous said...

Once a kid passes the NYSESLAT they're not considered "ELL" anymore. I would assume Success has lower ELL numbers because they teach kids to speak, read, and write in English faster than PS149. Longer school day, longer school year, and nightly reading practice for kids starting at age 4 or 5... right?

Anonymous said...

So am I , now all of a sudden they can deal with my sons needs but they don't tell me what they are.