OFF THE GRID
My wife and I are leaving the country for three weeks in Ethiopia and Madagascar. We will miss a few Presidential debates, but I don’t expect the candidates to address the issue I care most about, children and their education. Of, if they do, it will be in the form of rants against the Common Core. Sad and predictable
Here’s a prediction: While we are away, another shoe will drop in the Eva Moskowitz/Success Academies story that you may have been following on the PBS NewsHour and in the New York Times. It won’t come from me, and I am not in touch with Times reporter Kate Taylor, but you can count on more headlines about excessive use of out-of-school suspensions and attrition emerging in the near future.
A number of people have written to ask for more data about out of school suspensions at Success Academies. We used the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get data from Success Academies, from other charter networks, and from traditional public schools located near or sharing space with charter schools. Because the state asks only about the number of students suspended, schools do not have to report the total number of suspensions–and so, not surprisingly, they do not.
• Success Academy Crown Heights, a K-1 school, issued 57 suspensions to 18 students.
• Success Academy Prospect Heights, also K-1, issued 44 suspensions to 12 students, one of whom was suspended 12 times, until the parents finally withdrew the child.
• Success Academy Harlem 1 reported to the state that it suspended 125 students in 2013-14; what it did not have to report was that it handed out 279 suspensions.
• Harlem 2 suspended 102 students but handed out 225 out of school suspensions.
• Harlem 3 suspended 90 students 262 times.
• Bronx 1 suspended 42 students 118 times.
Reporting is on an honor system. Our FOIA indicates that Success Academies seems to have underreported or mis-reported suspensions on several occasions, judging from what is posted on the state’s website.
• Bed-Stuy 1 reported 10 suspensions to the state but acknowledged to us that it suspended 22 children 49 times.
• Bed-Stuy 2 told the state that it had zero suspensions but acknowledged to us that it suspended 26 children 80 times.
• Cobble Hill Success Academy reported zero suspensions to the state but in response to our FOIA acknowledged suspending 26 children 92 times.
These are elementary schools, some with only Kindergarten and First Grades. The complete response is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5mXKGS4xL6iVDRvaDBpdFVkdFE/view?usp=sharing
(It’s a story for another day, perhaps, but a few charter school operators simply did not respond to the FOIA letters, even thought the law requires disclosure. Give Success Academies credit, because it was forthcoming and thorough. I suspect that some charter operators are grateful with Eva as the lightning rod, because they are getting away with murder–figuratively speaking, of course.)
What I will be wondering while we travel: Will the Administration have more to say about ‘too much testing’ and the need to limit testing? I thought the Presidential announcement, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan chiming in, about a 2% cap on testing time was bizarre. I remain astounded at how tone-deaf those folks sounded, particularly when floating the idea of a FEDERAL LAW capping testing time! And how exactly would that be enforced? Hasn’t anyone down there learned anything about the limits on federal power to run our schools?
I hope they learned something from the public response to the notion of capping testing but somehow I doubt it. With Secretary Duncan leaving fairly soon, he must be concerned about his legacy. However, talking now about ‘too much testing’ isn’t going to help.
See you in three weeks or so