Courier Life’s

Success schools will be models of excellence

Brooklyn Daily
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As a mother raising three young children in the city, I know how hard it is to find great public schools. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to creating schools that I’d want for my own children — ones that are well-rounded, rigorous and diverse so that students can have the cross-cultural experiences they’ll find in the real world.

Success Academy Cobble Hill and Success Academy Williamsburg, which will open this fall, are those kinds of schools. Located within two of Brooklyn’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse school districts, I’m hoping these schools become models of integration and excellence.

That is the driving factor behind opening in these neighborhoods, despite a well-organized campaign to spread misinformation about our motives. Luckily, parents are smarter than that and have done their homework, attended information sessions and school tours so they can make informed decisions. Both Cobble Hill and Williamsburg already have more applications than we have seats available. What’s more encouraging is that those applications come from across their districts.

In Williamsburg, applicants are from the South Side, the North Side and everywhere in between. They are African-American, Latino and white. More than 30 percent of potential students are English Language Learners, which we’re thrilled about given the district’s large Latino community.

Faced with a choice of sending their kids to struggling or overcrowded district schools; paying an astonishing $40,000 for private school; or moving out of town, Brooklyn parents are sending a loud and clear message that those options won’t cut it. What they want is simple: a good public school for their kids.

Success Academy students are achieving at very high levels. Last year, 86 percent of Success Academy Harlem 1 fourth graders and 91 percent of fifth graders rated proficient in English Language Arts. 100 percent of fourth graders and 98 percent of fifth graders scored proficient in math. By comparison, just 44 percent of students citywide achieved proficiency in English and 57 percent scored proficient in math.

In the next five weeks, we expect many more in-district parents to learn about our schools and apply for more slots than are available, necessitating a lottery. We wish we could provide seats to everyone who wants one, but instead, strongly support efforts to improve existing schools and create new ones so that every child has access to a great education.

Eva Moskowitz is a former Councilwoman and CEO of the Success Charter Network.

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Reader Feedback

Public School Parent from Williamsburg says:
If 30% of your applicants are english language learners, and you are so committed to serving the community in all its diversity, why are you applying in secret to revise your charter application to limit ELLs to 20% (and dump students from "failing schools"?). Sounds like racist cherrypicking to me.
March 2, 2012, 6:08 am
Kate Yourke from Williamsburg says:
The charter school model was developed to create opportunities for specialized educational environments in response to specific community need.

Not to be replicated then forced on a community opposing it.

Success Academy Williamsburg is actively opposed by our Congressional representative, our City Council members, Community Board #1, District 14 Community Education Council, Churches United, and all significant Community Based Organization, educational institutions, and public schools in the District.

Eva Moskowitz shamelessly bused in parents from Harlem Success to feign support here in Williamsburg, then stood in the back of the auditorium allowing parents to treat a public hearing like a sporting match without showing the courtesy or the courage to stand before the community she intends to "serve."

We have plenty of elementary schools near JHS 50. Locating Success Academy there has absolutely no educational merit, and will NOT be accepted by the Southside community.

Perhaps Eva Moskowitz can show proof for her claims of support in District 14. Success Academy benefits from a tremendous budget for marketing, but fabricated claims are not truth despite how often they are repeated.

Success Academy especially benefits from Mayoral Control, which prevents any attempt at democracy from affecting the outcome of this siting process. Success Academy also benefits from the lobbying efforts of the finance industry which makes up its Board of Trustees, leading to State and Federal initiatives to allow charter school networks to proliferate unchecked. Thus Success Academy does not feel the need to demonstrate even the most meager effort to meet the requirements of the charter application.

We will see if the courts agree that these specific requirements are met by vague interpretations of meaningful words like "community" and "impacted community."

In my book, the meaning of these words has power beyond that of Eva Moskowitz and her pack of wolves in sheep's clothing.
March 2, 2012, 9:54 am
Anni from NYC says:
'Models of excellence' that have no hesitation about squeezing the regular public schools in their buildings until those schools are forced into basements, lose library & yard access, 'must' awkwardly restrict the movement of their students in their own buildings, have to take in all the 'counseled out' kids from Success late in the year without getting funds for them, and so on. Every school co-locating with Success knows that Success takes away more space than it was granted. It is criminal how much influence Success seems to have, even as it demonstrably harms the educational experience of kids at neighborhood DOE schools.
March 2, 2012, 10:31 am
Fran from Cobble Hill says:
Eva, we'll see just how diverse your school is as the year opens. I saw another person post this but it bears repeating:

From the New York Magazine:

New students are initiated at “kindergarten boot camp,” where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides) and the art of active listening (legs crossed, hands folded, eyes tracking the speaker). Life at Harlem Success, the teacher says, is “very, very structured,” even the twenty-minute recess. Lunches are rushed and hushed, leaving little downtime to build social skills. Many children appear fried by two o’clock, particularly in weeks with heavy testing. “We test constantly, all grades,” the teacher says. During the TerraNova, a mini-SAT bubble test over four consecutive mornings, three students threw up. “I just don’t feel that kids have a chance to be kids,” she laments.

Noguera, too, has reservations about the “punitive” approach at Harlem Success and other high-performing charter networks. He thinks it grooms conformists, and that middle-class parents would find it anathema. “What concerns me are the race/class assumptions built into this,” he says. “If you’re serious about preparing kids to be leaders, you have to realize that leaders have to think for themselves.”
March 2, 2012, 2:16 pm
Paula from Williamsburg says:
If we keep this up, we'll get a system like New Orleans - 75% charter schools with no neighborhood schools left for people to go to. Then you fill up the neighborhood schools with all the kids who don't test well.

No thanks, Eva.

This isn't why we moved to Williamsburg. This military academy doesn't sound like a good idea for anyone's kids. People who really know about education think your schools are an abomination.

And if you really believe that your schools are such a lifesaver, why don't you let kids in after the second grade or when a spot becomes available right before testing time? Our public schools take all the kids.
March 2, 2012, 8:19 pm
Williamsburger from Williamsburg says:
Model's of excellence? Not so much.
March 3, 2012, 5:03 pm
2002 Before Charters says:
State of the New York City Public Schools 2002

Raymond Domanico
Senior Education Advisor, Industrial Areas Foundations; Metro N.Y.


This report provides a comprehensive overview of the educational performance of the New York City public schools over the past five years. It finds that educational performance has not improved during that period. Among its specific findings are:

Only 70 percent of students complete high school, either by obtaining a diploma (60%) or a GED (10%) within seven years of initial enrollment. Only 50 percent complete high school, either with a diploma (46%) or GED (4%) within four years of initial enrollment. These figures are unchanged from the beginning of the 1990s.
Only 44 percent of black students, and only 39 percent of Hispanic students, complete high school within four years.
While passage rates on the State’s Regents exams have increased since 1995, fewer than 50 percent of City students pass even one of these challenging exams. Only a maximum of 19 percent of City students could have passed five exams last year, based on low passage rates for Biology (16%) and Earth Science (19%). Since students will have to pass five of these exams to graduate from high school by 2005, City high school graduation rates may drop precipitously in the near future.
City elementary and middle school students are also not learning what they need to. Only 41 percent of these students scored at an acceptable level on the citywide reading tests in 2000, while only 34 percent scored at an acceptable level on the citywide math tests.
One in five City elementary and middle school students scored at the lowest level on the reading tests, and nearly one third of these students scored at the lowest level on the citywide math tests.
March 3, 2012, 6:05 pm
Williamsburger from Williamsburg says:
What's your point, 2002 before charters?
March 3, 2012, 6:20 pm
FYI from NYC says:
New York City charter schools (less qualified for city's specialized high schools)
The percentage of charter-school eighth-graders who performed well enough to qualify for one of the city's specialized high schools has declined by nearly half since 2009, according to data obtained by The Post.

Just over 5 percent of the 677 charter kids who sat for the Specialized High School Admissions Test in 2011 got offers from Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech or five other elite high schools.

A ninth specialized high school, La Guardia Performing Arts, requires an audition for entry.

The data show that while the number of charter kids qualifying for an elite seat has dipped only slightly since 2009 -- from 42 to 35 -- the number sitting for the exam has grown by more than 200.

Two years ago, 9.2 percent of the 459 charter applicants aced the rigorous entrance exam.

"It follows the same trend we saw last year where the public schools outperformed the charter schools," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

When state officials raised the passing bar on state tests in 2010, charters saw larger drops in pass rates overall than did traditional public schools -- although charters maintained a slim lead in performance in both math and reading.

Last year, for the first time, however, traditional public schools outperformed charters on the city's A-through-F report cards, which emphasize year-to-year progress…

The drop in charter-school success with the elite high schools was slightly steeper than but mirrored the drop in the percentage of black and Hispanic students citywide who qualified for the elite schools.

Just 11 percent of black and Hispanic test takers qualified for a specialized high school this year -- down from 13 percent in 2009.

The vast majority of students served by charter schools are black and Hispanic.
March 4, 2012, 2:49 pm
FYI from Williamsburg says:
Success for All is the literacy program Success Academy uses:

Success for All, designed by Robert Slavin and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, “tells schools precisely what to teach and how to teach it – to the point of scripting, nearly minute by minute, every teacher’s activity in every classroom every day of the year. . . . Teachers must use a series of catch phrases and hand signals developed by Success for All. In kindergarten and first grade every piece of classroom material (readers, posters, tapes, videos, lesson plans, books – everything) is provided by the program. . . . Success for All . . . teaches reading primarily through phonics. . . . Students are tested, put into groups based on their skill levels, drilled in reading skills, regrouped, and drilled some more. . . . The [first-grade] teacher stands at the blackboard and says, ‘Okay, let’s get ready for our shared story. Ready, read!’ The students read the first page of the story loudly, in unison. . . . ‘Okay, do your first word,’ she says. The students call out together, ‘Only! O [clap] N [clap] L [clap] Y [clap]. Only!’ . . . ‘If you work right, you’ll earn points for your work team! You clear?’ Twenty voices call out, ‘Yes!’” (Lemann, 1998, pp. 98-99). Keep in mind that this account is offered by a journalist who supports the program, at least for poor children.
- from Alfie Kohn:
March 5, 2012, 3:58 pm

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