SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: The True Eva Moskowitz

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The True Eva Moskowitz

 Editors note: After this story went to press the crack team here at SBSB learned that Leonie Haimson's blog, NYC Public School Parents has a first person account written by Matthew's mom, Katherine Sprowal. Click here to read it.

In the movie Airplane! right after Striker landed the plane, Rex Kramer said over the radio that there are people that, "want to shake his hand and buy him a drink." I think I can not only speak for myself, but a multitude of others out there who can and will say the same thing of Michael Winerip of the New York Times. Michael, and there are time I have disagreed with him, continues to pull back the sheath of idiocy and stupidity on the NYC DOE. Michael I offer you a glass or two of Slivowitz.

Why is Michael Winerip  about to be blessed with Jewish schnapps? It is because of the article that is to appear in tomorrow's (July 11) New York Times. In this article Weinrip, rips (pardon the pun!) the sheath off of the world created by Success Academy and its leader Eva Moskowitz.

The sheath that Winerip exposed is all to common practice of charter schools, counseling students who do not conform to its values, its core beliefs, out of the school and washing their hands of them. Winerip writes about Matthew a kindergartner, and the hell that Harlem Success Academy 3 put him and his mother, Katherine Sprowal through in 2008. Ms Sprowal unfortunately was hoodwinked by the propaganda video produced by HSA, and soon enrolled young Matthew in the school and like every parent, beamed with pride as she was sending her little man into the world of education. Only it was not the world of education she sent him into, but rather a vast, evil corporate structured educational system that is run by a cold, nasty evil woman.

Winerips starts out writing; Matthew is bright but can be disruptive and easily distracted. It was not a natural fit for the Success charters, which are known for discipline and long school days. 

OK, this can happen at first. New environment, new grade, a lot of newness. But, Matthew is a kid. By the looks of him in the photo he looks very bright and very inquisitive. What teacher, what school wouldn't want a kid like Matthew?

From Day 1 of kindergarten, Ms. Sprowal said, he was punished for acting out. “They kept him after school to practice walking in the hallway,” she said. 

Wait. HSA kept a 5 year old after school and had him practice walking in the hallway? Is HSA the Marine Corps? Yeah, I know, after school at HSA is not the traditional after school. But still. This is a five year old boy! What kind of trauma must this kid be going through on his very first day of school??? Were any positive behavior modification tried before this drastic and perilously close to corporal punishment maneuver was tried?

What better why to suck out the love of learning this young man should have than to berate, bellitle, and shame him than to make him walk the halls from day one?

Several times, she was called to pick him up early, she said, and in his third week he was suspended three days for bothering other children.  

Suspended for bothering students? Isn't HSA bound by Chancellor's Regulation A-443? Isn't HSA bound by the NYC DOE Discipline Code? Or is Eva allowed to circumvent these?

In Matthew’s three years of preschool, Ms. Sprowal said, he had never missed time for behavior problems. “After only 12 days in your school,” she wrote the principal, “you have assessed and concluded that our son is defective and will not meet your school criteria.”

You go Ms Sprowal!!! Want to know why Matthew never had issues in preschool? Because his preschool teachers knew what they were doing! I have seen these women from preschools in the neighborhood where I work. They are like sergeants. Sergeants like Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan. Tough and they are in control, and shower the kids with love. This is their life's calling. They don't just stay for two years and apply to law school.

I have a feeling that Matthew's Kindergarten teacher was a white, young, new teacher that went to a very elite college. 

Five days later, Ms. Sprowal got an e-mail from Ms. Moskowitz that she took as a veiled message to leave. 

The crack team also is in receipt of this email, however we have it in its original German;  "Bin nicht vertraut mit dem Thema. aber es ist extrem wichtig, dass Kinder erfolgreich und ein Neun-Stunden-Tag mit mehr als 23 Kinder (und das ist unsere kleine Klassen!), Wo sie ständig gefragt werden fühlen zu fokussieren und konzentrieren kann überfordern Kinder und ein schlechtes Umfeld. "

Basically Eva is claiming that a 9 hour day with 23 students can be tough. No sh** Sherlock!

The next week, the school psychologist evaluated Matthew and concluded he would be better suited elsewhere: “He may need a smaller classroom than his current school has available.”

Translated; Please, get him out of here.

But Eva's mouthpiece, Jenny Sedis said; “We helped place him in a school that would better suit his needs,” Ms. Sedlis wrote. “His success today confirms the correctness of his placement. I believe that 100 percent of the time we were acting in Matthew’s best interest and that the end result benefited him and benefited P.S. 75, which now has a child excelling.”

Ms. Sedlis denied that Matthew had been suspended, and said he was not disciplined when he was kept after school. 


Sedis goes on to blabber; “Practicing walking through the halls is the opposite of a punishment,...Just as in math, when a child does not get a concept, we re-teach."

And reeducate well having the students watch films of students misbehaving while their eyes are kept open and drops are applied. 

Oh please. Don't compare math and walking in the halls. You guys dropped the ball. Matthew's teacher dropped the ball. HE WAS IN KINDERGARTEN!!! Try positive reinforcement!

Sedis blabbered on; ....that two Success board members were leaders of well-respected special-education schools, Donna Kennedy of Gillen Brewer and Scott Gaynor of the Stephen Gaynor School.

So what? My great-uncle was a Communist. What did Donna and Scotty say about this? Did they ever know? In fact, what would have been done at their schools?

Sedis also offered counterexamples, like Iris Ayala, whose 6-year-old son, Alexander, has an attention disorder and speech problem but has thrived at a Success school. Ms. Ayala said Alexander often acted up, running out of the classroom. But the school gave him special-education help, she said, and now he is reading above grade level. “I love the school,” Ms. Ayala said. 

So why wasn't Matthew afforded this?

But here is something that Weinrip wrote at towards the end of the article; Ms. Moskowitz has enormous political clout, and without my asking, Laura Rodriguez, a deputy chancellor, sent an e-mail saying the Success charters were getting better about special education.

Why should they be getting better? Why? Shouldn't they be there already?

What happened to Matthew is appalling. This is a corporate mentality that allowed this to happen to him. His mother entrusted HSA 3 with her child and they dropped the ball. The fewer problems that Eva and her ilk have to deal with the better.

Hey Eva! If one of your flesh and blood children were treated like Matthew what would you do? What would you say?

Moskowitz is a fraud, a charlatan, a snake oil salesman. She is evil, and out for herself. Let's keep peeling away at Eva.


zulma said...

Having a child stay 9 hours in school is child abuse and comparable to breaking the child labor laws. Eva's schools are nothing else but a factory for children to work in and not to learn.

Ms. Tsouris said...

I agree with Zulma; a 9 hour school day is child abuse for the sake of a fascist view of education's purpose. Also, asking a 5-year old to practice "walking through the halls" is abusive; if this were a public school, the teacher would have already been brought up on charges, and may have made the headlines in the Daily News and the Post. As a special educator, this is beyond anything educationally imaginable. This most definitely WAS CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. Any special educator or supervisor would have been horrified at the treatment of this "acting out" kid. As SBS stated, "HE WAS IN KINDERGARTEN!!! Try positive reinforcement!"

Chalk Duster said...

As always...the rules don't seem to apply to rich corporate bastards. Anyone who uses our children as stepping stones to satisfy their egoes and monitary interests is allowed to do whatever the hell they WANT.

Wait a minute...the school day is 9 hours they kept him he went home on his first day at what, 9:00 PM??? Isn't that past a 5 year old's bedtime??

Awesome post. Although the subject was rather sobering you managed to present it in such a sarcastic and comical manner that I --almost-- forgot how angry it made me.

Anonymous said...

Don’t be surprised when you find yourself agreeing with your usual adversaries. I think that we are starting to develop a consensus in our country that shortcuts have no place in education. In New York City our elected officials have squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of charitable donations meant for our schools on the ‘Leadership Academy’. To qualify for that academy you need a lot of ambition and a commitment to the idea that people who never taught can teach you how to lead people who have been teaching for years, in most cases years longer than those ambitious novices. Apparently Mayor Bloomberg and his Wall Street cronies missed the leadership lessons learned in the 20th Century, that the most important role that a good leader can ever play is to follow. That isn’t surprising. Mayor Bloomberg and his colleagues are not really leaders, they are the crew that exploited American business for personal profit and led this country to the precipice of financial ruin.
Eva Moscowitz and those of her ilk are just another crew taking a shortcut. Armed with ambition, a PhD in History, lots of political and economic backing and no particular expertise in education, Ms. Moscowitz set out on her own road to riches. As this article shows children don’t matter in charter schools. Parents don’t pick charter schools, charter schools pick students.
Hopefully stories like this will show charter schools for what they are, and this empire will crumble before doing more damage to our schools and children. I’m sure Ms. Moscowitz is worthy of her $375,000 salary in some field, but those of us who have struggled to achieve in various schools know that it is not in the field of education.