One principal drew up a “Got to Go” list with the names of 16 disruptive students, reports the New York Times. Nine left the school, in part due to frequent suspensions.
A different Success Academy school suspended kindergartners and first-graders 44 times in one year, with one child suspended 12 times, reports PBS’s NewsHour.
One parent complained of her son’s suspensions on camera. Eva Moskowitz, the charter network’s founder and CEO, published the student’s disciplinary record, which included punching and choking teachers and throwing a classmate into a wall.
Success Academy runs 34 New York City schools with 11,000 students, most of them black or Hispanic and poor, writes Nelson. “This year, 93 percent of Success Academy students tested as proficient in math in 2015, compared with just 35 percent of kids in New York as a whole; 68 percent tested as proficient in reading, compared with 30 percent citywide.”
Admirers point to a strong curriculum and intense teacher training.
Critics argue that the schools are narrowly focused on test preparation, including rewards for students who score well on practice tests and a combination of detention and study hall for those who do not.
Research suggests that pushing out low performers doesn’t explain Success Academy’s incredible success, writes Nelson. The scores are too high.
Strict discipline does matter. Suspending disruptive students allows Success to maintain safe, orderly classrooms. That’s a big draw for many parents and a huge “educational advantage” over district-run schools.
In affluent suburban schools, bright students “almost never share a classroom with challenging, high-needs kids,” writes Robert Pondiscio. Public school administrators “marginalize and punish kids who act out – even for infractions that are beneath notice at chaotic inner-city schools.”