Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eva's Very Bad Month

It has not been a fun couple of weeks for Eva Moskowitz and her Success Academy chain of test score workshops. I just want to collect all these high points in one spot.

First, she found herself the subject of a John Merrow PBS piece on the use of discipline to push students out and raise the collective scores of her schools. It's worth watching the clip to see her performance:

This is what happens when you get too used to only appearing in media settings that you totally control.

But Eva fought back quickly, demanding an apology in a letter that I won't link to because, incredibly, Moskowitz included the easily-identifiable disciplinary record of a then six year old student. Because when your charter business is under attack, you fight back with whatever weapons are at your disposal against whoever stands in your way. Talk about putting adult interests ahead of the needs of children.

Does that sound like a violation of the law? The child's mother thinks so, and has filed suit against Moskowitz.

That was two weeks ago. Then this week, Moskowitz found herself facing off against the city. City Controller Scott Stringer put it plainly:

If an organization wants to be paid New York City taxpayer dollars, they need to follow New York City rules.  

Moskowitz wants those sweet sweet Pre-K tax dollars, but as she has periodically reminded the State of New York, school regulations are for little people, and she is not a public school when it comes to accountability (only when it comes to collecting checks). Moskowitz held a press event to declare her right not to listen to Stringer, featuring parents as props and a closed setting where only those she wanted present could attend.

But even as Moskowitz was standing up for her right to take public tax dollars without having to be accountable for them, she was getting questions about an article by Kate Taylor in the New York Times laying out just how determined Success Academies can get about pushing out students that they don't want to teach. This piece includes the damning story of one SA locations "Got To Go" list in which, incredibly, a principal actually wrote out a list of students that were marked for pushing out. Stories of Moskowitz's determined work in pushing out students (and teachers) she didn't want to teach has been widely documented, but the school hit list added a new level of awfulness.

Moskowitz tried to put out that fire yesterday (twittering public ed advocates noted that admission to the event was once again carefully controlled). The offending principal apologized, complete with tears and early departure, but Moskowitz said he would not be fired:

At Success, we simply don't believe in throwing people on the trash heap for the sake of public relations.

She also released an e-mail in which she called the principal "stubborn" and "dense." She indicated that she was too cool to take PR advice, and she insisted repeatedly that this instance was an anomaly. She also tried to provide evidence that she had been all over this way back when it came to her attention.

She did not indicate that Success Academy would be making any policy changes to avoid similar events in the future.

Politico's full report on the press event is worth reading, especially such dry observations as noting that after the NYT piece ran, "other charter advocates declined to come to Success' defense." I'm not surprised. Mike Petrilli, however, did run a piece in the Daily News defending Moskowitz's right to do what she says she doesn't do. So there's that.

All in all, the fiction of Success Academy's great achievements is taking a beating. We shall see if things start looking up once November rolls around.


  1. Making Richard Nixon look good, huh Eva. "Cause at least his enemies list was restricted to adults.

  2. Holy moley!

    I just watched a one-woman Eva Moskowitz’ horror show… starring Eva herself. It’s her six-minute “Ed Talk” (get it? rhymes with “Ted Talk”) at the 2014 Corporate Reform jamboree called “Camp Philos”:
    She glowingly tells the story of Sidney — an eighth grade Success Academy student — while projecting her picture on a screen. (Did she get permission?)

    During Common Core testing, Sidney was in a life-threatening battle with sickle-cell anemia, having spend over half of her 13 years in hospitals. Even at the most severe moment of crisis in her health, Sidney insisted on taking the entirety of that year’s Common Core testing. The adults around argued otherwise, because she had just had her infected spleen taken out that very day, “had lost a lot of weight,” and “was extremely cold and weak.” In the light of this, the principal informed Sidney that she was entitled to claim a “medical excuse” and delay taking the test.

    However, Sidney wouldn’t hear of it, and took the test.

    “I want to get a 4,” Sidney replied, with Eva recounting these words with emotion.

    Eva’s point?

    ( 02:10 – 03:03 )
    ( 02:10 – 03:03 )
    EVA MOSKOWITZ: “Children are incredibly resilient, and I would urge you to think about NOT treating children AS children… I think that we have underestimated in this country the pleasure that comes from achieving mastery, and from performance. In my experience, kids actually want to perform. The want to master. Sidney was a perfect example, even though she was in a life-threatening situation.”

    Sweet Lord! What is WRONG with this woman?

    Cue the Supremes' "STOP.. IN THE NAME OF LOVE":
    (By the way, Camp Philos 2015 is this weekend. My invite must have got lost in the mail ... I wonder what Eva’s 2015 “Ed Talk” will be this year, given the timing.)

  3. She only throws kids on the trash heap for the sake of graduation rates.