This past Thursday as I was hanging out in my favorite post-work coffee house I began a conversation with another human being about the state of education in this country. Even though this person is somewhat new to teaching, this person was not drinking the Kool-Aid of the deformer and
was very bright and quite perceptive.
As we talked, I learned that this person, who shall henceforth be known in this posting as Cher, was a former employee of the Success Academy charter schools which are led by the irascible Eva Moskowitz. We both smiled and told the barista to brew up another pot of Guatemala-Antigua Original Medium Roast and soon Cher was dishing dirt on Success.
Cher had been what is known as a "associate teacher" at Success at the salary of $50,000. As an associate teacher, Cher did all the grunt work for the head teacher or as she said of what an associate teacher is nothing more than a "bitch for the teacher."
The associate teacher makes all the photo copies, writes the lessons and homework on the boards, if a child is misbehaving, the associate teacher takes that student for a walk. In fact speaking of walking, Cher shared that not only are individual students singled out for not walking correctly in the hall but entire classes as well for the smallest of infractions.
Funny how students need to practice walking in the hall. As Cher mentioned, the first month of school is spent on discipline. How to walk in the halls, how to sit down, when to sit down. In fact she shared with me how the little children are forced to sit quietly for hours at a time.
One thing Cher shared, and I did not know this, but the teachers at Success do not have to write lesson plans. WOW! The lesson plans are already pre-packgaged and given to the head teachers at the beginning of the month and all that needs be done is to copy these plans to a planning sheet.
Cher told me how that the official work hours for staff are from 7 AM-5 PM. The problem is that faculty meetings are called to start at 4:45 PM and this inevitably leads to teachers staying at the school way past 5 PM and not getting paid. Worse for teachers is the Wednesday after school training held as the plush Success offices in Harlem.
I asked Cher about the naughty dirty rumor that Eva and Success counsel students out who do not pass muster. Being a person of high moral quality Cher was only able to discuss what she had seen personally and felt she was unable to speculate on the rest of the school. When I told The Crack Team of Cher's ethics they all gave her a thumbs up.
Cher told me how a student in her class was consistently misbehaving. The parents were called in time and time again. The behavior was not changing and at one point the powers that be at Cher's school finally said, "There is nothing more that we can do." The student, who was from Africa, was let go. Put on irrevocable waivers.
This seems to be part and parcel of what happens to special education students at Success. Cher told me that while Success does accept special education students, that IEP's are ignored and no modifications are given special ed students and that Success has the same expectations of special ed students as they do for general ed students.
While we applaud at putting the bar high for special ed students and we can't think of one teacher that doesn't, the bar should always be set at levels for special ed students that are attainable and which correlate to their IEP's. Never should expectations be set so unreasonably high solely to make a crazy headmistress of a charter school chain look good, oh, and to make some money.
Students have their lunch recess planned out for them with activities. No being a child and just spazzing out in the yard.
Students in 2nd grade start getting prepped for the exams in 3rd grade.
Staff is told that there are to be no interactions with the co-located school at all.
One thing Cher told me that is somewhat puzzling. Many of the teachers in her Success Academy are current TFA'ers. I was always under the impression that TFA can't place teachers in charter schools. But oh well, most of the rest of the staff are former TFA'ers. Go figure.
Ever wonder how some of the money is spent at Success? Check out the Happy Hours that Success splurges on for it's staff. No 6 foot heroes, only the best bars with top shelf booze and quality food. The Crack Team wonders if Eva gets snockered at these.
That's pretty much what Cher shared with me. Hopefully Cher will share (pardon the pun!) more.
It is interesting to hear this stuff about Success first hand. The more and more that I hear about the evils of Success and Eva the more I come to realize that Eva is in it for herself, that she believes that only white people know what is best for the boys and girls of color, and that her time is coming to a end soon.