Dear Commons Community,
Success Academy, the charter school network in New York City, has long been being accused that its accomplishments are due, in part, to a practice of weeding out difficult and low-performing students. The network has always denied it. But documents obtained by the New York Times and interviews with 10 current and former Success employees at five schools suggest that administrators in the network have singled out children they would like to see leave. Here is an excerpt from the Times article as reported by Kate Taylor:
‘At Success Academy Fort Greene, the same day that Ms. Ogundiran heard from the principal, her daughter’s name was one of 16 placed on a list drawn up at his direction and shared by school leaders.
The heading on the list was “Got to Go.”
Nine of the students on the list later withdrew from the school. Some of their parents said in interviews that while their children attended Success, their lives were upended by repeated suspensions and frequent demands that they pick up their children early or meet with school or network staff members. Four of the parents said that school or network employees told them explicitly that the school, whose oldest students are now in the third grade, was not right for their children and that they should go elsewhere.
The current and former employees said they had observed similar practices at other Success schools. According to those employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs or their relationships with people still at the network, school leaders and network staff members explicitly talked about suspending students or calling parents into frequent meetings as ways to force parents to fall in line or prompt them to withdraw their children.
Last year, for instance, the principal of Success Academy Harlem 2 Upper, Lavinia Mackall, told teachers not to automatically send annual re-enrollment forms home to certain students, because the school did not want those students to come back, two former members of the school’s staff said. Ms. Mackall said that her comments had been misinterpreted and that she was trying to encourage parents to take the school’s requirements seriously, but that she also did not believe the school was right for all students.
In another example, a current employee said, a network lawyer in a conversation with colleagues described a particularly unruly student’s withdrawal as “a big win” for the school.
In a written response to questions, Success Academy’s spokeswoman, Ann Powell, said that the “Got to Go” list was a mistake and that the network quickly got wind of it and reprimanded Mr. Brown, the principal.”
Congratulations to Kate Taylor and the New York Times for verifying what has been suspected for years among educators in New York City. Eva Moskowitz with her corporate sponsors have made a mockery of what the charter school movement was meant to be. Instead of accepting and educating all students, Success Academies have been skimming the better students from the public schools to enhance their performance records.