Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/success-academy 2017-12-14T08:26:15+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Success Academy Schools Largely Responsible for Charter Gains on State Tests 2016-08-11T04:00:00+00:00 2016-08-11T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6477:success-academy-schools-largely-responsible-for-charter-gains-on-state-tests Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Success_Academy_Binghamton.jpg" alt="Success Academy Binghamton" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>photo: @SuccessCharters</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Release of the most recent student test scores on state English and math exams for third- through eighth-graders set off widespread celebration in public education circles. Supporters and leaders of charter schools and traditional public schools alike have been promoting the <a href="http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/2016-3-8-test-results.pdf" target="_blank">results</a>, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has cited test score jumps as proof that his education agenda is working.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Common Core-aligned proficiency tests, administered in April and released by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia on July 29, show significant increases for students in the city&rsquo;s traditional public schools and even bigger jumps for charter schools students.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an annual tradition, the release of the scores led different interest groups and interested individuals to see the results through the lens of their politics and another round of the district versus charter school debate commenced. On Wednesday, de Blasio attributed the larger growth in scores by charter school students to the sector&rsquo;s emphasis on test preparation, setting off a new round of criticism of the mayor by charter school supporters, who he has mostly been at odds with for years.</p> <p dir="ltr">The most acrimony for de Blasio and the charter school sector has come with Success Academy and its lightning rod founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz. Success is the city&rsquo;s largest charter school network, its students routinely outperform most others across the city on standardized tests. It has been the focus of much criticism over its discipline practices, emphasis on test prep, and stringent expectations of both students and teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Charter school supporters, including Moskowitz, who published a related <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/eva-moskowitz-inconvenient-truth-test-scores-article-1.2737537" target="_blank">op-ed in the New York Daily News</a> on August 4, were quick to tout the fact that the charter sector outpaced district schools on the state tests. But the sector&rsquo;s increase was driven disproportionately by Moskowitz&rsquo;s own Success Academy students.</p> <p dir="ltr">For context, 445,482 New York City students took the English Language Arts test this past Spring; 400,820 from district schools and 44,632 from charter schools, including 4,337 from Success Academy schools specifically. A total of 440,542 students took the math test; 396,849 from district schools and 43,693 from charter schools, including 4,339 from Success Academy schools. Success Academy accounted for about 10 percent of charter school test-takers and 1 percent of total city test-takers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The percent of district school students with scores of &ldquo;proficient&rdquo; or higher rose 1.2 points from last year to 36.4 percent in math and rose 7.6 points to 38 percent in English. This places New York City district schools 3 points behind the overall state average for math proficiency and, for the first time in history, in line with the statewide average for English.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The steps we took, the investments we made are paying off, and we have objective evidence of that in these test scores,&rdquo; de Blasio said at an August 1 press conference called to celebrate the scores. &ldquo;That is true in both English and math. And I&rsquo;m very proud to say in English, every single one of our 32 local districts improved. And that is extraordinary consistency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">For students at charter schools, math proficiency rose 4.5 points to 48.7 percent, while English proficiency jumped 13.7 points to 43 percent&mdash;surpassing district school English proficiency for the first time. Charter school proponents said the data evidenced charter schools&rsquo; success, especially for low-income students and students of color, with both groups <a href="http://www.nyccharterschools.org/content/new-york-city-charter-school-center-test-score-analysis-2015-16" target="_blank">scoring higher</a> on average in charter schools than in district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;From the perspective of the [New York City charter school] sector, the sector scores are strong overall. There's a lot of strong performers,&rdquo; NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;The bottom line is it's part of a longer trend where you have a sector that's working and that parents, particularly parents of students who are black and Hispanic, want more of.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Charter school proponents regularly cite the long wait lists for their schools and criticize de Blasio and others for standing in the way of the creation of more charter schools, which are publicly-funded, privately-run schools authorized by state entities. There is a cap on the number of charter schools that is set by state lawmakers, who have generally been supportive of raising it. A recent <a href="https://www.qu.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2370">Quinnipiac public opinion poll</a> showed that among New York City voters, 51 percent said they would prefer for their child to attend a charter school while 37 percent said they would prefer a traditional public school.</p> <p dir="ltr">While de Blasio and his allies have celebrated district school students&rsquo; gains on the tests, some have sought to discredit those jumps. Statewide, proficiency on English exams increased by seven points since last year, critics point out, and for the first time, students were given unlimited time on state exams this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz of Success Academy, a former City Council member, concluded in her recent <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/eva-moskowitz-inconvenient-truth-test-scores-article-1.2737537" target="_blank">Daily News op-ed</a> that unlike district schools, city charters, which exceeded the seven-point statewide jump, are a &ldquo;set of schools that meets the criteria&rdquo; to truly be considered improving.</p> <p dir="ltr">This trend was not uniform, however, across charter schools - something that many in the charter sector are not necessarily eager to point out, even including Moskowitz. Success earned far higher scores than schools across the charter sector, which includes 25 other networks and 216 total schools, pulling the sector average upwards by a significant margin.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over 4,300 Success Academy students took the state tests in 2016, about 10 percent of charter school students tested in the city. Success students showed proficiency at nearly double the rate of all charter schools -- 94 percent were proficient in math and 82 percent were proficient in English this year. Success also outperformed traditional public school students by 58 points in math and 44 points in English.</p> <p dir="ltr">With Success scores factored out, the city&rsquo;s charter school students averaged 43.8 percent proficiency in math and 38.9 percent in English, outperforming district school students by 7.4 points and less than one point, respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The scores from Success are startling. They're incredibly high,&rdquo; Merriman said. &ldquo;Another thing I would say stands out is the relative uniformity across [Moskowitz&rsquo;s] schools. There's a consistency there that I think most people would agree is very difficult to achieve.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But because of Success&rsquo; approach, and uniquely high scores, David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, said that categorizing in the same set alongside all other charters in the city is unproductive. Because charter schools are privately operated, Bloomfield said, their methods differ from one school to the next as greatly as private schools, which makes grouping them difficult.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Success scores give a halo effect to charters in general, and that's based on a fundamental misunderstanding of variation between charters,&rdquo; Bloomfield told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;What we're supposed to be finding out from these scores is&hellip;how much students are learning, but the variation in the preparation practices makes that impossible.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Representatives of Success Academy say that it makes sense to group all charter schools together since all district schools are discussed in sum although they vary widely as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy is driven by an emphasis on standardized testing, preparing students rigorously and from a young age, as explored in depth by <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html?_r=0" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> and <a href="http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2015/04/06/success-academy-a-guide-to-the-citys-largest-most-controversial-charter-school-network/" target="_blank">Chalkbeat</a>, and frequently discussed by Moskowitz and others at the network. Students&rsquo; grades are posted in the hallways at Success schools; students who do well on tests are rewarded with toys and candy, while those who do poorly face punishments like detention or calls home. Extracurriculars can relate to testing&mdash;in April, Moskowitz <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/success-academy-students-prepare-slam-exam-rally-article-1.2586290" target="_blank">organized the network&rsquo;s annual &ldquo;slam the exam&rdquo; rally</a> for third through eighth graders the week before the state tests.</p> <p dir="ltr">The network has come under significant criticism for its approach to testing and has been the target of various accusations around pushing low-performing students out of its schools. In October, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">The Times revealed</a> that one Success principal kept a &ldquo;got to go&rdquo; list of low-performing students he wanted to see leave his school. Moskowitz called it an anomaly, as she did when <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html" target="_blank">The Times published</a> a secretly recorded video of a Success teacher at a different school berating a young student for answering questions incorrectly. The network does not shy away from its especially high rate of student suspensions. In May, <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/05/success-academy-documents-point-to-possible-cheating-among-challenges-101595" target="_blank">Politico New York reported</a> that internal Success documents pointed to possible cheating by teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, most charter school backers have held Success Academy as a model and praised Moskowitz for her work. There are some in the sector, especially at smaller, non-network schools that are critical of Success and do not align with political work the chain is heavily involved with. Success now includes 41 schools and has the stated goal of expanding to 100 by 2025.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz&rsquo;s schools continue to be the pace-setters for the charter sector on the state exams.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked by Gotham Gazette about the disparity between charter school and district school performance at a press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio criticized schools that prioritize test prep and implied that those schools distort the sector&rsquo;s overall numbers. He said that his administration believes that tests are important, but not in too much of a focus on them.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some substantial piece of that [average] is based on charters that focus on test prep. And that&rsquo;s where they put a lot of their time and energy,&rdquo; de Blasio said. &ldquo;Of course it could yield better test scores, but we don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s good educational policy so we&rsquo;re going to do it the way we believe is right for our children.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In response, a Success Academy spokesperson sent a statement to Gotham Gazette extolling the network&rsquo;s well-rounded approach.</p> <p>"At Success Academy we have tried to reimagine public education, putting children at the heart of everything we do -- from our field studies, chess clubs, and recess to hands-on science, literacy, and math,&rdquo; the statement reads. &ldquo;In many district schools, children are bored out of their minds. We banish boredom by filling every day with child-centered learning."</p> <p>

***
by Aaron Holmes, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/Success_Academy_Binghamton.jpg" alt="Success Academy Binghamton" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p>photo: @SuccessCharters</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">Release of the most recent student test scores on state English and math exams for third- through eighth-graders set off widespread celebration in public education circles. Supporters and leaders of charter schools and traditional public schools alike have been promoting the <a href="http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/2016-3-8-test-results.pdf" target="_blank">results</a>, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has cited test score jumps as proof that his education agenda is working.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Common Core-aligned proficiency tests, administered in April and released by State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia on July 29, show significant increases for students in the city&rsquo;s traditional public schools and even bigger jumps for charter schools students.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an annual tradition, the release of the scores led different interest groups and interested individuals to see the results through the lens of their politics and another round of the district versus charter school debate commenced. On Wednesday, de Blasio attributed the larger growth in scores by charter school students to the sector&rsquo;s emphasis on test preparation, setting off a new round of criticism of the mayor by charter school supporters, who he has mostly been at odds with for years.</p> <p dir="ltr">The most acrimony for de Blasio and the charter school sector has come with Success Academy and its lightning rod founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz. Success is the city&rsquo;s largest charter school network, its students routinely outperform most others across the city on standardized tests. It has been the focus of much criticism over its discipline practices, emphasis on test prep, and stringent expectations of both students and teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Charter school supporters, including Moskowitz, who published a related <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/eva-moskowitz-inconvenient-truth-test-scores-article-1.2737537" target="_blank">op-ed in the New York Daily News</a> on August 4, were quick to tout the fact that the charter sector outpaced district schools on the state tests. But the sector&rsquo;s increase was driven disproportionately by Moskowitz&rsquo;s own Success Academy students.</p> <p dir="ltr">For context, 445,482 New York City students took the English Language Arts test this past Spring; 400,820 from district schools and 44,632 from charter schools, including 4,337 from Success Academy schools specifically. A total of 440,542 students took the math test; 396,849 from district schools and 43,693 from charter schools, including 4,339 from Success Academy schools. Success Academy accounted for about 10 percent of charter school test-takers and 1 percent of total city test-takers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The percent of district school students with scores of &ldquo;proficient&rdquo; or higher rose 1.2 points from last year to 36.4 percent in math and rose 7.6 points to 38 percent in English. This places New York City district schools 3 points behind the overall state average for math proficiency and, for the first time in history, in line with the statewide average for English.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The steps we took, the investments we made are paying off, and we have objective evidence of that in these test scores,&rdquo; de Blasio said at an August 1 press conference called to celebrate the scores. &ldquo;That is true in both English and math. And I&rsquo;m very proud to say in English, every single one of our 32 local districts improved. And that is extraordinary consistency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">For students at charter schools, math proficiency rose 4.5 points to 48.7 percent, while English proficiency jumped 13.7 points to 43 percent&mdash;surpassing district school English proficiency for the first time. Charter school proponents said the data evidenced charter schools&rsquo; success, especially for low-income students and students of color, with both groups <a href="http://www.nyccharterschools.org/content/new-york-city-charter-school-center-test-score-analysis-2015-16" target="_blank">scoring higher</a> on average in charter schools than in district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;From the perspective of the [New York City charter school] sector, the sector scores are strong overall. There's a lot of strong performers,&rdquo; NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;The bottom line is it's part of a longer trend where you have a sector that's working and that parents, particularly parents of students who are black and Hispanic, want more of.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Charter school proponents regularly cite the long wait lists for their schools and criticize de Blasio and others for standing in the way of the creation of more charter schools, which are publicly-funded, privately-run schools authorized by state entities. There is a cap on the number of charter schools that is set by state lawmakers, who have generally been supportive of raising it. A recent <a href="https://www.qu.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/new-york-city/release-detail?ReleaseID=2370">Quinnipiac public opinion poll</a> showed that among New York City voters, 51 percent said they would prefer for their child to attend a charter school while 37 percent said they would prefer a traditional public school.</p> <p dir="ltr">While de Blasio and his allies have celebrated district school students&rsquo; gains on the tests, some have sought to discredit those jumps. Statewide, proficiency on English exams increased by seven points since last year, critics point out, and for the first time, students were given unlimited time on state exams this year.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz of Success Academy, a former City Council member, concluded in her recent <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/eva-moskowitz-inconvenient-truth-test-scores-article-1.2737537" target="_blank">Daily News op-ed</a> that unlike district schools, city charters, which exceeded the seven-point statewide jump, are a &ldquo;set of schools that meets the criteria&rdquo; to truly be considered improving.</p> <p dir="ltr">This trend was not uniform, however, across charter schools - something that many in the charter sector are not necessarily eager to point out, even including Moskowitz. Success earned far higher scores than schools across the charter sector, which includes 25 other networks and 216 total schools, pulling the sector average upwards by a significant margin.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over 4,300 Success Academy students took the state tests in 2016, about 10 percent of charter school students tested in the city. Success students showed proficiency at nearly double the rate of all charter schools -- 94 percent were proficient in math and 82 percent were proficient in English this year. Success also outperformed traditional public school students by 58 points in math and 44 points in English.</p> <p dir="ltr">With Success scores factored out, the city&rsquo;s charter school students averaged 43.8 percent proficiency in math and 38.9 percent in English, outperforming district school students by 7.4 points and less than one point, respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The scores from Success are startling. They're incredibly high,&rdquo; Merriman said. &ldquo;Another thing I would say stands out is the relative uniformity across [Moskowitz&rsquo;s] schools. There's a consistency there that I think most people would agree is very difficult to achieve.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">But because of Success&rsquo; approach, and uniquely high scores, David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, said that categorizing in the same set alongside all other charters in the city is unproductive. Because charter schools are privately operated, Bloomfield said, their methods differ from one school to the next as greatly as private schools, which makes grouping them difficult.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Success scores give a halo effect to charters in general, and that's based on a fundamental misunderstanding of variation between charters,&rdquo; Bloomfield told Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;What we're supposed to be finding out from these scores is&hellip;how much students are learning, but the variation in the preparation practices makes that impossible.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Representatives of Success Academy say that it makes sense to group all charter schools together since all district schools are discussed in sum although they vary widely as well.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy is driven by an emphasis on standardized testing, preparing students rigorously and from a young age, as explored in depth by <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html?_r=0" target="_blank">The New York Times</a> and <a href="http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2015/04/06/success-academy-a-guide-to-the-citys-largest-most-controversial-charter-school-network/" target="_blank">Chalkbeat</a>, and frequently discussed by Moskowitz and others at the network. Students&rsquo; grades are posted in the hallways at Success schools; students who do well on tests are rewarded with toys and candy, while those who do poorly face punishments like detention or calls home. Extracurriculars can relate to testing&mdash;in April, Moskowitz <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/success-academy-students-prepare-slam-exam-rally-article-1.2586290" target="_blank">organized the network&rsquo;s annual &ldquo;slam the exam&rdquo; rally</a> for third through eighth graders the week before the state tests.</p> <p dir="ltr">The network has come under significant criticism for its approach to testing and has been the target of various accusations around pushing low-performing students out of its schools. In October, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">The Times revealed</a> that one Success principal kept a &ldquo;got to go&rdquo; list of low-performing students he wanted to see leave his school. Moskowitz called it an anomaly, as she did when <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html" target="_blank">The Times published</a> a secretly recorded video of a Success teacher at a different school berating a young student for answering questions incorrectly. The network does not shy away from its especially high rate of student suspensions. In May, <a href="http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/05/success-academy-documents-point-to-possible-cheating-among-challenges-101595" target="_blank">Politico New York reported</a> that internal Success documents pointed to possible cheating by teachers.</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, most charter school backers have held Success Academy as a model and praised Moskowitz for her work. There are some in the sector, especially at smaller, non-network schools that are critical of Success and do not align with political work the chain is heavily involved with. Success now includes 41 schools and has the stated goal of expanding to 100 by 2025.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz&rsquo;s schools continue to be the pace-setters for the charter sector on the state exams.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked by Gotham Gazette about the disparity between charter school and district school performance at a press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio criticized schools that prioritize test prep and implied that those schools distort the sector&rsquo;s overall numbers. He said that his administration believes that tests are important, but not in too much of a focus on them.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some substantial piece of that [average] is based on charters that focus on test prep. And that&rsquo;s where they put a lot of their time and energy,&rdquo; de Blasio said. &ldquo;Of course it could yield better test scores, but we don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s good educational policy so we&rsquo;re going to do it the way we believe is right for our children.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In response, a Success Academy spokesperson sent a statement to Gotham Gazette extolling the network&rsquo;s well-rounded approach.</p> <p>"At Success Academy we have tried to reimagine public education, putting children at the heart of everything we do -- from our field studies, chess clubs, and recess to hands-on science, literacy, and math,&rdquo; the statement reads. &ldquo;In many district schools, children are bored out of their minds. We banish boredom by filling every day with child-centered learning."</p> <p>

***
by Aaron Holmes, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Citing Success Academy Experiences, Parents Tell Cuomo to Increase Charter Accountability 2016-03-24T22:24:24+00:00 2016-03-24T22:24:24+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6242:citing-success-academy-experiences-parents-tell-cuomo-to-increase-charter-accountability Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/12939818914_ef20945484_z.jpg" alt="cuomo charters" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo at a 2014 charter school rally (via The Governor's Office on flickr)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Five New York City parents are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to withdraw funding and increase oversight of charter schools as a response to what they say is systemic mistreatment of children, particularly their own, by the Success Academy charter school network.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an open letter to the governor, four parents of former Success Academy students, and one whose child is still enrolled in the network, criticize Success Academy’s disciplinary policies and say its practices are “discriminatory against students with special needs.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter is being hand-delivered Friday morning to the governor’s office in Albany, it was shared with Gotham Gazette in advance. It is the latest in an ongoing, intense public debate over the practices of the controversial charter network, which has seen a series of troubling incidents come to light amid longtime concerns over its strict approach to discipline, suspension rates, and focus on test preparations.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy was founded by former City Council Member Eva Moskowitz in 2006. It is the largest charter school network in the city, with approximately 11,000 students in 34 schools across the city, in each borough <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6170-eyeing-100-schools-will-success-academy-expand-to-staten-island" target="_blank">except Staten Island</a>. It also has seven new schools opening<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/eva-moskowitz-success-academy-open-schools-article-1.2567364" target="_blank"> in August</a>. Success students, or scholars as they are known in the network’s parlance, perform remarkably well on standardized tests, leading to many accolades and repeated questions about Moskowitz’s “secret sauce.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But, the network has also faced much criticism for its harsh discipline policies and heavy emphasis on testing. Last year, the New York Times reported that a Success Principal had <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">created</a> a ‘Got to Go’ list to push out underperforming students. Then, last month, the Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Moskowitz,%20Eva%20S.&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=timestopics&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=1&amp;pgtype=collection" target="_blank">released a video</a> that showed a Success teacher scolding and publicly humiliating a first-grade student in front of the rest of her class. The network is also the focus of at least two <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/nyregion/success-academy-founder-defends-schools-against-charges-of-bias.html" target="_blank">federal lawsuits</a> that were filed recently.</p> <p dir="ltr">In face of this criticism, Moskowitz has time and again cited the network’s high performance on standardized tests compared to traditional district schools. While apologizing she has said reported incidents are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VvR1szZln-Y" target="_blank">isolated</a> and not indicative of network-wide problems. She has worn the lawsuits as a badge of honor and said she is tired of apologizing.</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who wrote the letter disagree about whether there are systemic problems at Success Academy. “Despite what CEO Eva Moskowitz says, the targeting and pushing out of students, specifically our own, is not an anomaly within this organization,” their letter states.</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents cite instances where their children were routinely suspended, singled out, and shamed or excluded from field trips. They say Success often called them midday to pick up their children without reporting these events as suspensions. And, they claim Success Academy retaliated by calling the Administration for Children’s Services on them when they spoke out against these practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Because of this ongoing mistreatment of our children, several of us have lost our jobs or had to drop out of school,” they write in the letter. The missive and its demands to Gov. Cuomo come amid budget negotiations when funding for charter schools is being debated. Recent state budgets have been good to the charter school sector, which Cuomo has been allied with for years. Cuomo has appeared to distance himself a bit from charters, but is still seen as an ally.</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter is signed by Fatima Geidi, former parent, Success Academy Upper West; Shanna Charles, former parent, Success Academy Bed-Stuy 2; Shaniece Givens, former parent, Success Academy Fort Greene; Elizabeth Eloheim, former parent, Success Academy Harlem 1; Katie Jackson, parent, Success Academy Harlem 2.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Politico New York <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8594332/memo-success-academy-lawyers-warn-staff-mistakes" target="_blank">reported</a> that a memo was circulated by the Success Academy legal team to all network staffers which seemed to show how the network is dealing with parents and the recent storm of negative attention. The memo lists mistakes which staff members should avoid, including one, “Letting parents get away with threats to go to the press/police/elected official.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"If a parent makes this threat, contact advisory. Advisory can help diffuse this situation," the memo says. "But we cannot let parents 'get away' with these threats. Feel confident in pushing back on these and telling parents that threats are not a productive way to resolve conflict or build the relationship."</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who have written to the governor appear to have given up on the relationship. They are calling on the governor to hold Success Academy, and by extension all charter schools, accountable by supporting a state Assembly <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/03/8593747/assembly-one-house-budget-reflects-challenging-year-charters" target="_blank">proposal</a> to create a code of conduct for charters and to have schools provide annual discipline reports.</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter also insists that the state should not increase funding for charters, either through the governor’s own initiatives or those proposed by the state Senate in its one-house budget. In his January State of the State address, Cuomo called for increasing per-pupil state aid to charters, which amounts to roughly $27 million. He also proposed a $63 million increase in supplemental tuition aid at charter schools. Charters have been calling for increased funding for years, including to up the per-pupil levels to match traditional public schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">A Success Academy spokesperson declined to comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a recent <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#more-23642" target="_blank">event</a> at New York Law School, Moskowitz defended her network. Addressing the issue of discipline, <a href="http://observer.com/2016/01/eva-moskowitz-defends-success-academy-charter-chain-from-critics/" target="_blank">she said</a>, “The truth of the matter is safety is the number one reason parents want out of the district schools, and we believe that our first obligation is for the safety of the children. There’s no learning that can occur if we aren’t able to guarantee that. So we have a no-nonsense, nurturing approach to discipline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who’ve written to the governor say otherwise. “At a time like this, we need to invest in schools that hold our children up and value all of their potential and not schools that see children and families as disposable,” the letter states. “Eva Moskowitz has been criminalizing our children and ostracizing our families and we need the state to investigate and hold them accountable. No rewards for schools that do not play by the rules.”</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/12939818914_ef20945484_z.jpg" alt="cuomo charters" height="399" width="600" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo at a 2014 charter school rally (via The Governor's Office on flickr)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>Five New York City parents are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to withdraw funding and increase oversight of charter schools as a response to what they say is systemic mistreatment of children, particularly their own, by the Success Academy charter school network.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an open letter to the governor, four parents of former Success Academy students, and one whose child is still enrolled in the network, criticize Success Academy’s disciplinary policies and say its practices are “discriminatory against students with special needs.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter is being hand-delivered Friday morning to the governor’s office in Albany, it was shared with Gotham Gazette in advance. It is the latest in an ongoing, intense public debate over the practices of the controversial charter network, which has seen a series of troubling incidents come to light amid longtime concerns over its strict approach to discipline, suspension rates, and focus on test preparations.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy was founded by former City Council Member Eva Moskowitz in 2006. It is the largest charter school network in the city, with approximately 11,000 students in 34 schools across the city, in each borough <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6170-eyeing-100-schools-will-success-academy-expand-to-staten-island" target="_blank">except Staten Island</a>. It also has seven new schools opening<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/eva-moskowitz-success-academy-open-schools-article-1.2567364" target="_blank"> in August</a>. Success students, or scholars as they are known in the network’s parlance, perform remarkably well on standardized tests, leading to many accolades and repeated questions about Moskowitz’s “secret sauce.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But, the network has also faced much criticism for its harsh discipline policies and heavy emphasis on testing. Last year, the New York Times reported that a Success Principal had <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">created</a> a ‘Got to Go’ list to push out underperforming students. Then, last month, the Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Moskowitz,%20Eva%20S.&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=timestopics&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=1&amp;pgtype=collection" target="_blank">released a video</a> that showed a Success teacher scolding and publicly humiliating a first-grade student in front of the rest of her class. The network is also the focus of at least two <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/nyregion/success-academy-founder-defends-schools-against-charges-of-bias.html" target="_blank">federal lawsuits</a> that were filed recently.</p> <p dir="ltr">In face of this criticism, Moskowitz has time and again cited the network’s high performance on standardized tests compared to traditional district schools. While apologizing she has said reported incidents are <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#.VvR1szZln-Y" target="_blank">isolated</a> and not indicative of network-wide problems. She has worn the lawsuits as a badge of honor and said she is tired of apologizing.</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who wrote the letter disagree about whether there are systemic problems at Success Academy. “Despite what CEO Eva Moskowitz says, the targeting and pushing out of students, specifically our own, is not an anomaly within this organization,” their letter states.</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents cite instances where their children were routinely suspended, singled out, and shamed or excluded from field trips. They say Success often called them midday to pick up their children without reporting these events as suspensions. And, they claim Success Academy retaliated by calling the Administration for Children’s Services on them when they spoke out against these practices.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Because of this ongoing mistreatment of our children, several of us have lost our jobs or had to drop out of school,” they write in the letter. The missive and its demands to Gov. Cuomo come amid budget negotiations when funding for charter schools is being debated. Recent state budgets have been good to the charter school sector, which Cuomo has been allied with for years. Cuomo has appeared to distance himself a bit from charters, but is still seen as an ally.</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter is signed by Fatima Geidi, former parent, Success Academy Upper West; Shanna Charles, former parent, Success Academy Bed-Stuy 2; Shaniece Givens, former parent, Success Academy Fort Greene; Elizabeth Eloheim, former parent, Success Academy Harlem 1; Katie Jackson, parent, Success Academy Harlem 2.</p> <p dir="ltr">On Wednesday, Politico New York <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/03/8594332/memo-success-academy-lawyers-warn-staff-mistakes" target="_blank">reported</a> that a memo was circulated by the Success Academy legal team to all network staffers which seemed to show how the network is dealing with parents and the recent storm of negative attention. The memo lists mistakes which staff members should avoid, including one, “Letting parents get away with threats to go to the press/police/elected official.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"If a parent makes this threat, contact advisory. Advisory can help diffuse this situation," the memo says. "But we cannot let parents 'get away' with these threats. Feel confident in pushing back on these and telling parents that threats are not a productive way to resolve conflict or build the relationship."</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who have written to the governor appear to have given up on the relationship. They are calling on the governor to hold Success Academy, and by extension all charter schools, accountable by supporting a state Assembly <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/03/8593747/assembly-one-house-budget-reflects-challenging-year-charters" target="_blank">proposal</a> to create a code of conduct for charters and to have schools provide annual discipline reports.</p> <p dir="ltr">The letter also insists that the state should not increase funding for charters, either through the governor’s own initiatives or those proposed by the state Senate in its one-house budget. In his January State of the State address, Cuomo called for increasing per-pupil state aid to charters, which amounts to roughly $27 million. He also proposed a $63 million increase in supplemental tuition aid at charter schools. Charters have been calling for increased funding for years, including to up the per-pupil levels to match traditional public schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">A Success Academy spokesperson declined to comment for this story.</p> <p dir="ltr">At a recent <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#more-23642" target="_blank">event</a> at New York Law School, Moskowitz defended her network. Addressing the issue of discipline, <a href="http://observer.com/2016/01/eva-moskowitz-defends-success-academy-charter-chain-from-critics/" target="_blank">she said</a>, “The truth of the matter is safety is the number one reason parents want out of the district schools, and we believe that our first obligation is for the safety of the children. There’s no learning that can occur if we aren’t able to guarantee that. So we have a no-nonsense, nurturing approach to discipline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The parents who’ve written to the governor say otherwise. “At a time like this, we need to invest in schools that hold our children up and value all of their potential and not schools that see children and families as disposable,” the letter states. “Eva Moskowitz has been criminalizing our children and ostracizing our families and we need the state to investigate and hold them accountable. No rewards for schools that do not play by the rules.”</p> <p dir="ltr">

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Eyeing 100 Schools, Will Success Academy Expand to Staten Island? 2016-02-15T03:33:41+00:00 2016-02-15T03:33:41+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6170:eyeing-100-schools-will-success-academy-expand-to-staten-island Carmen Russo <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/moskowitz_rally.jpg" alt="moskowitz rally" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Eva Moskowitz &amp; students at a charter school rally (photo: @MoskowitzEva)</p> <hr /> <p>With 34 schools currently serving around 11,000 students, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy is, and will likely continue to be, the largest charter school network in New York City. Success currently <a href="http://www.successacademies.org/" target="_blank">operates</a> in four boroughs and Moskowitz has an ambitious target of reaching 100 schools within the next decade, which prompts the question: Why are there no Success Academy schools on Staten Island?</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy has not sought authorization to run a school on Staten Island. The borough only has three charter schools run by any provider, of the nearly 200 in the city. A fourth charter school is in the process of being set up. Some say that the borough’s current crop of district, charter, and private schools are relatively strong, leaving little demand for Success to move in. But, it may just be a matter of time, especially as the network continues to post extraordinary test scores and seeks to expand its reach further.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a few charter schools that are serving our community’s needs, and if they no longer serve that need then I wouldn’t be opposed to Success Academy coming to Staten Island,” said Sam Pirozzolo, vice-president of the New York City Parents Union, a volunteer organization that has been a vocal supporter of the charter school movement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pirozzolo, who lives on Staten Island and was president of the borough’s community education council (largely parent advisory groups organized through a process run by the city Department of Education), said parents should be able to choose between district and charter schools, and that both have faults.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy hasn’t ruled out Staten Island in its expansion plan, said Ann Powell, a spokesperson for the network. “It’s certainly possible in the future,” she said pointing out that the network only expanded to Queens two years ago. “As we move forward,” she said, “we hope to be able to serve families and students in Staten Island.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Eva Moskowitz has a very good reputation with her charter schools,” Pirozzolo told Gotham Gazette, exemplifying the view of many who see Success schools as strong alternatives to traditional district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz, a former City Council member, founded the Success Academy network in 2006 after a failed run for Manhattan Borough President. She has staunchly defended the network’s methods, which elicit much debate. Critics say its strict disciplinary practices and overemphasis on testing are detrimental to students, while supporters cite high performance on standardized tests and stronger school culture than neighboring district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">Adding fuel to the fire have been controversies at individual schools. The New York Times on Friday <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FMoskowitz%2C%20Eva%20S.&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=timestopics&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=1&amp;pgtype=collection" target="_blank">posted a video</a> from a Success Academy school that shows a teacher harshly reprimanding and shaming a first-grader for stumbling over a math problem. In October last year, the Times also <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">exposed</a> one Success principal’s “Got to Go” list of underperforming students, whose parents claimed they were being pushed out of the school. There have been separate allegations that students with disabilities are systematically <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/nyregion/success-academy-founder-defends-schools-against-charges-of-bias.html" target="_blank">mistreated</a>. Two <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/02/8590588/another-family-got-go-list-sues-success-academy" target="_blank">federal lawsuits</a> have been filed recently against the network, with several more over the years. Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Member Daniel Dromm, who heads the Council’s education committee (that Moskowitz once ran), have joined one of the newer complaints.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz and Success have also battled with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been an outspoken critic of Moskowitz, over school co-locations, and are currently tangling <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2016/01/29/rise-shine-eva-moskowitz-calls-on-state-to-intervene-in-success-pre-k-spat-with-city/" target="_blank">over pre-kindergarten contracts</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">But there is no apparent evidence that these controversies and disputes have been mitigating factors for interest in Success schools among parents, especially in areas of the city with historically troubled schools, nor for interest in a Success school on Staten Island. There are even students who commute from the island to Success schools in other boroughs.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We support any school – public, charter, or private – that gives Staten Island students a greater chance of success,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, in an email. “With that in mind, we want Staten Island parents to have a variety of local school choices.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Oddo said the “greatest outcry” from parents and advocates was for schools that better serve children with learning disabilities. He cited the example of a private school in Teaneck, New Jersey which specifically helps students who have difficulties with reading. A number of Staten Island students were enrolled there, he said, since their neighborhoods lacked adequate facilities and their tuition was paid by the Department of Education.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If Eva Moskowitz, or anyone else, is interested in talking with us about how they can help us meet the needs of these students, we would certainly welcome that conversation,” Oddo said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike Reilly, president of Community Education Council 31, which represents the entire borough, believes Success hasn’t made the move to Staten Island because existing public schools are doing well. CECs advise the Department of Education on district needs and communicate with local residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We’ve noticed that many charter schools open in areas where there’s a concern over performance of district schools,” Reilly said. “The need for charter schools doesn’t seem to be there in Staten Island. I’ve never heard anyone ask about opening a Success Charter school.”</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo, a Republican representing the mid-Island district, echoed this opinion. “The public and private schools in my district are well-regarded and I think parents are very happy with the choices they have,” Matteo said in a statement. “I am not sure there is a need, or necessarily a market for Success Academy here."</p> <p dir="ltr">Most Success Academy schools are concentrated in areas of the city with the district schools that struggle the most - areas of the south Bronx, central Brooklyn, and northern Manhattan. Many parents see Success as desperately-needed alternatives to district schools with low standardized test scores and a lack of order. Some appear to be turned off by reports of Success suspension rates <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/02/23/suspensions-at-city-charter-schools-far-outpace-those-at-district-schools-data-show/#.VsFJeWSAOko" target="_blank">far higher than district schools’</a> and the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html" target="_blank">extreme focus</a> on performing well on test scores.</p> <p dir="ltr">James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, believes that there is likely to be demand for Success charters on Staten Island even if it’s not overtly apparent. He speculated that transportation and infrastructure concerns might be holding back such a prospect.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Networks generally try to not have their schools geographically dispersed. Growth might better happen through new independent schools or by someone starting a network, who lives on the island,” he said. He also noted that Success leaders have been adamant in the past about co-locating with existing schools and that Staten Island affords few schools with that capability.</p> <p>Still, Merriman said, “I think there’s been demand for a Success school in most corners of the city.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Carmen Russo contributed reporting to this story.</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/moskowitz_rally.jpg" alt="moskowitz rally" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Eva Moskowitz &amp; students at a charter school rally (photo: @MoskowitzEva)</p> <hr /> <p>With 34 schools currently serving around 11,000 students, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy is, and will likely continue to be, the largest charter school network in New York City. Success currently <a href="http://www.successacademies.org/" target="_blank">operates</a> in four boroughs and Moskowitz has an ambitious target of reaching 100 schools within the next decade, which prompts the question: Why are there no Success Academy schools on Staten Island?</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy has not sought authorization to run a school on Staten Island. The borough only has three charter schools run by any provider, of the nearly 200 in the city. A fourth charter school is in the process of being set up. Some say that the borough’s current crop of district, charter, and private schools are relatively strong, leaving little demand for Success to move in. But, it may just be a matter of time, especially as the network continues to post extraordinary test scores and seeks to expand its reach further.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have a few charter schools that are serving our community’s needs, and if they no longer serve that need then I wouldn’t be opposed to Success Academy coming to Staten Island,” said Sam Pirozzolo, vice-president of the New York City Parents Union, a volunteer organization that has been a vocal supporter of the charter school movement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Pirozzolo, who lives on Staten Island and was president of the borough’s community education council (largely parent advisory groups organized through a process run by the city Department of Education), said parents should be able to choose between district and charter schools, and that both have faults.</p> <p dir="ltr">Success Academy hasn’t ruled out Staten Island in its expansion plan, said Ann Powell, a spokesperson for the network. “It’s certainly possible in the future,” she said pointing out that the network only expanded to Queens two years ago. “As we move forward,” she said, “we hope to be able to serve families and students in Staten Island.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Eva Moskowitz has a very good reputation with her charter schools,” Pirozzolo told Gotham Gazette, exemplifying the view of many who see Success schools as strong alternatives to traditional district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz, a former City Council member, founded the Success Academy network in 2006 after a failed run for Manhattan Borough President. She has staunchly defended the network’s methods, which elicit much debate. Critics say its strict disciplinary practices and overemphasis on testing are detrimental to students, while supporters cite high performance on standardized tests and stronger school culture than neighboring district schools.</p> <p dir="ltr">Adding fuel to the fire have been controversies at individual schools. The New York Times on Friday <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/nyregion/success-academy-teacher-rips-up-student-paper.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FMoskowitz%2C%20Eva%20S.&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=timestopics&amp;region=stream&amp;module=stream_unit&amp;version=latest&amp;contentPlacement=1&amp;pgtype=collection" target="_blank">posted a video</a> from a Success Academy school that shows a teacher harshly reprimanding and shaming a first-grader for stumbling over a math problem. In October last year, the Times also <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.html" target="_blank">exposed</a> one Success principal’s “Got to Go” list of underperforming students, whose parents claimed they were being pushed out of the school. There have been separate allegations that students with disabilities are systematically <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/nyregion/success-academy-founder-defends-schools-against-charges-of-bias.html" target="_blank">mistreated</a>. Two <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/02/8590588/another-family-got-go-list-sues-success-academy" target="_blank">federal lawsuits</a> have been filed recently against the network, with several more over the years. Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Member Daniel Dromm, who heads the Council’s education committee (that Moskowitz once ran), have joined one of the newer complaints.</p> <p dir="ltr">Moskowitz and Success have also battled with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been an outspoken critic of Moskowitz, over school co-locations, and are currently tangling <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2016/01/29/rise-shine-eva-moskowitz-calls-on-state-to-intervene-in-success-pre-k-spat-with-city/" target="_blank">over pre-kindergarten contracts</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">But there is no apparent evidence that these controversies and disputes have been mitigating factors for interest in Success schools among parents, especially in areas of the city with historically troubled schools, nor for interest in a Success school on Staten Island. There are even students who commute from the island to Success schools in other boroughs.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We support any school – public, charter, or private – that gives Staten Island students a greater chance of success,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, in an email. “With that in mind, we want Staten Island parents to have a variety of local school choices.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Oddo said the “greatest outcry” from parents and advocates was for schools that better serve children with learning disabilities. He cited the example of a private school in Teaneck, New Jersey which specifically helps students who have difficulties with reading. A number of Staten Island students were enrolled there, he said, since their neighborhoods lacked adequate facilities and their tuition was paid by the Department of Education.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If Eva Moskowitz, or anyone else, is interested in talking with us about how they can help us meet the needs of these students, we would certainly welcome that conversation,” Oddo said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mike Reilly, president of Community Education Council 31, which represents the entire borough, believes Success hasn’t made the move to Staten Island because existing public schools are doing well. CECs advise the Department of Education on district needs and communicate with local residents.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We’ve noticed that many charter schools open in areas where there’s a concern over performance of district schools,” Reilly said. “The need for charter schools doesn’t seem to be there in Staten Island. I’ve never heard anyone ask about opening a Success Charter school.”</p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo, a Republican representing the mid-Island district, echoed this opinion. “The public and private schools in my district are well-regarded and I think parents are very happy with the choices they have,” Matteo said in a statement. “I am not sure there is a need, or necessarily a market for Success Academy here."</p> <p dir="ltr">Most Success Academy schools are concentrated in areas of the city with the district schools that struggle the most - areas of the south Bronx, central Brooklyn, and northern Manhattan. Many parents see Success as desperately-needed alternatives to district schools with low standardized test scores and a lack of order. Some appear to be turned off by reports of Success suspension rates <a href="http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/02/23/suspensions-at-city-charter-schools-far-outpace-those-at-district-schools-data-show/#.VsFJeWSAOko" target="_blank">far higher than district schools’</a> and the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html" target="_blank">extreme focus</a> on performing well on test scores.</p> <p dir="ltr">James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, believes that there is likely to be demand for Success charters on Staten Island even if it’s not overtly apparent. He speculated that transportation and infrastructure concerns might be holding back such a prospect.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Networks generally try to not have their schools geographically dispersed. Growth might better happen through new independent schools or by someone starting a network, who lives on the island,” he said. He also noted that Success leaders have been adamant in the past about co-locating with existing schools and that Staten Island affords few schools with that capability.</p> <p>Still, Merriman said, “I think there’s been demand for a Success school in most corners of the city.”</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Carmen Russo contributed reporting to this story.</p>