2014-03-28 / Columnists

School Scope

By Norm Scott


Norman Scott Norman Scott If you happened to read Peter Stubben’s ridiculously misinformed pro-charter article in last week’s Wave, you might ask Stubben why he wants to throw autistic children into the street. Because that is exactly what would result if Eva Moskowitz, who makes almost half a million dollars a year to run 22 schools and is supported by $4 million dollars in advertising, gets her way. That money could have been spent to buy the Success Charter operation an entire building. But this is about politics, not education.

Poor Peter must be living in an alternate reality given that de Blasio allowed Eva to get almost everything she was handed by Bloomberg except for three spots ¬– two high schools which would need millions of dollars in renovations to keep the young children apart from the high school kids – and an expansion in a Harlem school that would toss out autistic kids.

You would have thought pro-charter Joe Lhota had won the election instead of losing by an enormous margin. How inept was de Blasio that he took such a public relations beating because he couldn’t effectively defend the autistic kids against the onslaught of TV commercials about the “poor” 194 Success “scholars” who were shoving special ed kids into the street? Stubben is a perfect example on how to get duped by the lies. Unfortunately, Chancellor Farina caved and said she would work to find the 194 Success kids seats. Eva doesn’t want seats in another building. She wants the building. This is also about real estate, not education.

We hear the lies about all those high achieving children being tossed. Remember that two out of the three schools de Blasio denied don’t even exist yet. But they would have been part of the Moskowitz political plan to set up outposts in certain neighborhoods in large high school buildings. She will take more and more space and ultimately toss out the public schools. It is an outrage that de Blasio actually gave her all the other schools she wanted. The school community at Seth Low middle school in Bensonhurst is outraged and has held two rallies demanding de Blasio rescind this decision.

Do we think it OK that Moskowitz got away with closing her schools and bussing all the kids, teachers and parents to Albany for a phony rally when she gets public tax money to run her schools – and skims a 15 percent commission off the top? What a blatant misuse of children for political ends. How much outrage would there be if the mayor closed all the schools to hold a rally to defend his decisions?

Distortions about Success achievement levels

Oh those supposed high scores. Experienced teachers know this game very well. Push out the potential low scorers as early as possible and leave a big bunch back early on so they will be a year older for each testing grade. Some truths as a DOE insider reported on Success tactics as reported on the Diane Ravitch blog: “Not only do classes contain disproportionately few students with disabilities and English language learners (ELLs), but their numbers almost invariably decrease with each passing year. The ranks of students with disabilities consistently dwindle. In the first two years of available data, there were hardly any ELLs. In 2010 Success suddenly came up with a nearly representative portion of these students, but their numbers more than halved by the next year. 83 students entered kindergarten in 2006-07, the school’s first year of operation. When that class reached 4th grade in 2010-11, it had only 53 students — a drop of 36 percent. Harlem Success also took in a 1st grade class with 73 students in 2006. When that group reached 5th grade, it too had shrunk appreciably — by 36 percent. The attrition accelerated as the classes advanced. The 2006-07 1st grade class, for example, did not shrink at all as it entered 2nd grade, but saw one sharp falloff between 2nd and 3rd and another between 4th and 5th.” If they ‘lost’ many students, these scores are tainted. Only one Success school has been around since 2007. That school started with 83 kindergarteners and 73 first graders. Those cohorts just tested in 6th and 7th grade, respectively. The school has ‘lost’ a big chunk of those original 156 kids. Of those 73 first graders in 2007, only 35 took the seventh grade test. Of the 83 kindergarteners, only 47 took the 6th grade test last spring. Overall, they have ‘lost’ 47 percent of the original two cohorts.

“The bulk of the attrition at Harlem Success Academy 1 seems to have come in the tested grades. Success Academy’s approach of holding many students back a grade level which creates a 3rd grade bulge as those students don’t move on to 4th grade. Attrition rates approach or exceed 50 percent by the end of middle school.”

Video: 12 Days to Being Tossed Out By Eva Moskowitz Success Charter, an interview with former Success Charter parent exposes shady tactics. Karen Sprowal tells the story of her kindergarten son's 12 days at Success Academy Charter School and how her son was pushed out of the charter school and eventually embraced by a neighborhood public school, PS 75. vimeo.com/88615316.

Follow the “Evil Eva” story on Norm’s blog: ednotesonline.org.

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