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In Success Academy, Many Suspensions Go to Few Students

In Success Academy, Many Suspensions Go to Few Students

Success Academy, a charter network of 34 schools in New York City that was founded in 2006, is no stranger to controversy. With its policy of "no excuses" for student achievement and tough disciplinary system to match, the charter network has frequently been criticized for its practices but revered for its routinely exceptional test results.

In a newly released video from PBS Newshour, John Merrow takes a look at one of the more controversial aspects of Success Academy- suspending children at the kindergarten and first grade level.

"At Success Academy Prospect Heights, students are required to avoid committing any one of 65 infractions that take six pages to explain. The code of conduct, Merrow says, labels as infractions everything from 'bullying and gambling to littering and failing to be in a ready-for-success position.' Getting out of a seat without permission or calling out an answer are infractions as well, and it doesn’t take many to get suspended," said The Washington Post.

In this school, Principal Monica Komery issued 44 suspensions to just 11 students in one year. According to Merrow, Success schools have a suspension rate that is three times the suspension rate of New York City public schools.

Moskowitz explained to Merrow why Success supports suspending children early for behavior infractions, arguing that early suspension results in improvement later on as a student.

“If you get it right in the early years, you actually have to suspend far less when the kids are older, because they understand what is expected of them," she said to Merrow.

Critics of Success Academy argue that early suspension is a way for the network to weed out under-performing students in order to ensure superior test results.

Moskowitz's critics "accuse her of suspending very young children over and over to persuade parents to change schools before state testing begins in third grade. Could that be true? We do know that some Success Academy students are suspended over and over."

Moskowitz, of course, denied this.

"In the end, how charter schools conduct their business is basically their own business. New York could demand detailed information about out-of-school suspensions, but they allow all charter schools, not just Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies, to set their own rules," Merrow said.

Read the full article and transcript of the video here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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