Dear Ms. Ravitch:
You had blogged about our letter a month ago to Eva Moskowitz asking for a response, regarding a terribly insensitive comment she made about children with special needs. She has not responded.
We learned recently that the NYC Panel on Education Policy has delayed a decision on whether to grant Success Academy a co-location space in Midwood. We have written to the Panel asking that no space be given until Success Academy's record on children with special needs is thoroughly examined. I believe the Panel convenes again on June 10.
We thought you might be interested in our comments to this Panel; the email is below.
And thank you as always for all you do for public education.
Lisa Eggert Litvin
Hastings-on-Hudson PTSA Co President
Dear Panel on Education Policy Members:
We write because we are pleased to hear that you are holding off on a final decision on whether to allow a Success Academy Charter (SA) to co-locate at the Andries Hudde Middle School in Midwood.
We are the Hastings-on-Hudson PTSA Executive Board, and we have been very concerned with Success Academy Charter Schools' treatment of children with special needs. We ask that no space be granted to this chain until SA's record regarding children with special needs is examined thoroughly and is shown to be fair.
SA's record regarding these children has long been a point of contention, with parents relaying, among other things, that these children are pushed out of the SA schools because of their learning issues. In addition, reports are pervasive that SA’s percentage of children with the highest level of special need is far below the percentage in traditional public schools. (See, e.g., http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-ravitch/mayor-de-blasio-eva-moskowitz_b_4948262.html.)
And just recently, the New York Times published a series of comments from parents whose children attended SA, several of which reinforced that children with special needs face particular and unnecessary hardships at Success Academy schools. "Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy seem to have zero understanding about how to handle children who might learn differently," said one parent, while another commented that "parents with special needs children should be wary." http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/04/17/nyregion/success-academy-parents-voices.html?_r=0.
Making matters much worse, SA’s CEO, Eva Moskowitz, recently made a jaw-dropping and cruel comment that corroborates these concerns. Specifically, Ms. Moskowitz stated that SA does not accept children after third grade because "It's not really fair for the student in seventh grade or a high school student to have to be educated with a child who’s reading at a second or third grade level." Her shocking insensitivity traveled quickly throughout the education community, with parents and educators stunned that she could be so harsh to these children with reading challenges, many of whom have learning differences. (Comment is here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/04/10/new-york-city-charters-leave-thousands-of-seats-unfilled-despite-exploding-demand-study-finds/ .)
In response to Ms. Moskowitz's comment, we, the Hastings-on-Hudson PTSA and the Hastings Special Education PTA (SEPTA), sent her the email below; as of yet, we have received no response. (Our letter also appeared on Diane Ravitch's blog, here: http://dianeravitch.net/2015/04/30/a-pta-writes-a-letter-to-eva-moskowitz-about-inclusion/)
Accordingly, we ask that this Panel not authorize additional space to any Success Academy Charter Schools until its record regarding children with special needs is proven to be acceptable and fair.
Very truly yours,
Hastings-on-Hudson PTSA Executive Board, Lisa Eggert Litvin and Jacqueline Weitzman, Co Presidents