Overall, the article carries Eva's water and works as propaganda piece, but there some choice cuts from it that really should serve warning to those of us who are still, you know, human:
In New York City's public schools, the most common problem for teachers is that they cannot get their kids to shut up. From kindergarten through high school, it is the bane of almost every teacher's existence. Even experienced teachers talk about the frustration of having a handful of disruptive kids—or even just one—that keeps everyone else from learning. Bronx Success Academy 1 isn't having any of it, and not just because it can fire teachers and students. The newly opened charter school is part of a network run by Eva Moskowitz, a woman who inspires a remarkable loathing from New York's teachers' union and other advocates of traditional public education. Employing non-union instructors, Bronx Success exists not only to educate kids but to show that it can do so better than traditional public schools, like the one it shares a building with, P.S.30 (Wilton).
The sheer efficiency with which the students, teachers, and parents present themselves and govern nearly every gesture and utterance is so striking that the thought "North Korean–like" kept coming to mind during multiple Voice visits over a four-month period to Bronx Success.
From day one, students are indoctrinated with drills: how to clear their trays and deposit trash at the cafeteria; how to stand in line and walk up stairs; how to track adults with their eyes when they walk and when they talk.
And to really make it sink in, movements are matched with rhymes.
"Hands on top," adults ring out, and children instinctively know to respond, "That means stop!" as they put their hands on their heads. Sitting with their hands in their laps is "magic five." Spend just a few hours there, and soon you'll be responding like a trained poodle: Months later, there hasn't been any let-up from the day of the school's opening, and the rhyming and gesturing is as hard-wired in the children as a soldier's salute.
Policies that defy common sense infuriate Eva Moskowitz, the well-paid CEO of the Success Charter Network. A former chairwoman of the City Council's Education Committee, she has been the scourge of the United Federation of Teachers, the department of education, and civil rights activists at one time or another. She is praised by some education advocates and reviled by others. An article about her on GothamSchools.org is named "What is it about Eva Moskowitz that attracts so many enemies?" A longtime source for the Voice says, "She is the devil, and I cannot think of anything good to say about her."
Shortly before he left office, Chancellor Joel Klein described Moskowitz as "a lightning rod" of criticism, but had nothing but praise for her.
On this day in the Bronx, Moskowitz is opening a charter school that has 185 black and Hispanic children and one white child. And though she could afford to send her children anywhere on her salary ($300,000), two of her own children go to Harlem Success Academy 3, where they are among the only white children. (Her older son goes to NEST+m, a traditional public school for the gifted on the Lower East Side.)
So why is a woman who spends all her time educating poor children of color so hated, especially when she puts her own kids where her mouth is?
For one reason, her Success Academies are blamed for cannibalizing. The more Bronx Success grows, the more its "co-location" neighbor Wilton will have to shrink—putting Wilton's staff and parents on the defensive as their school is pushed toward irrelevance and possible extinction. For a charter to grow, the other school in its building must die (or, reformers hope, rise to the challenge). The battle for space alone can make enemies out of entire school communities. That movie is playing out right now on the Upper West Side, where Moskowitz is attempting to open her first charter in an affluent white community, against great opposition.
Why, contend charter school critics, pit kindergartners against each other? Why should Wilton kids see that Bronx Success has better bathrooms, a longer school day, and more resources in the same building?
This may be the most remarkable thing about a Moskowitz school like Bronx Success: Walk down the hallways, and you are immediately struck by it.
"Our time was 16 seconds yesterday, scholars. We need to get that down!"
It's four months later on a cold January morning, and Jennifer Haynes, the 2027 University of Michigan kindergarten teacher, is timing her students as they move from their assigned places on the classroom's carpet to their desks. She has a timer in her hand. Like every teacher in the school, she times everything.
Not wasting time is an obsession at Bronx Success. Teachers time how long it takes for children to take off their boots and put on their regulation black shoes. They time how long it takes for everyone to stop talking and sit quietly in "magic five." They're always trying to improve the time from one day to the next.
Just how time-obsessed are they?
"At B.S.A.1, we resolve to make the most of every precious minute of learning." This enthusiastic mantra is printed on a schedule posted on the faculty bathroom stall door. (Yes, even the moments spent sitting on the toilet are valuable minutes to remind teachers not to waste time.)
Speaking of the bathrooms, they are a point of pride and competition, as well. "The Golden Paper Towel Competition" is posted in the hallway, pitting the school's boys and girls against each other to see who can get points for having "nothing on the floor," making "zero noise," and being "quick scholars."
The sense of timing here is rigid, and it started before the school year began. (Parents were required to attend certain meetings the summer before.) If a child is chronically late, the school initiates wake-up calls to make sure the family does something about it. But even being late one time results in Saturday school for child and parent.
It's not for every family. One child, a kindergarten boy, showed up almost late the first day of school, back in August. While the Voice was observing, he was almost always the slowest child to respond to discipline routines, dawdling when other kids were in "magic five" or had already gotten their "hands on top."
During our visit in January, he was pulled out of the school by his family, who enrolled him in P.S.30 in the same building. It's precisely this type of thing—families who can't cut the routine and leave—that gives charters a huge advantage over traditional public schools, which have to serve everyone.
The time obsession, the young teachers who must work 10 hours days and multi-task every minute of the day, the military discipline instilled in children - some parents want this for their children, but I know that I wouldn't want that for mine and I guarantee that the overwhelming majority of the ruling class wouldn't want it for theirs.
Eva sends her kids to her own boot camps because she wants to make money and what better way to sell the schools than say she sends her own kids to them.
But I guarantee you this as well - if Eva weren't running these schools and making a pretty good penny off of them, she wouldn't be sending her children to them (or to any others like them.)
As for whether this is the kind of education system that we should want in America (as opposed to say, North Korea), well, I defer to Bloomberg, Klein, Obama, et al. who do NOT send their kids to these kinds of schools but instead send them to progressive schools with progressive policies.
Those are the kinds of schools we ought to be designing for the future.
What Eva runs and what Obama, Bloomberg, Klein, et al. promote are schools that teach the kids of the working classes (and especially minority kids) the Holy Trinity of modern American society:
I think it's time to stop that.