JOHN MERROW: Success Academies are obviously doing something right. Last year, 93 percent of Success Academy students passed the state’s math test, compared to just 35 percent in the city’s traditional public schools.
Could out-of-school suspensions be a factor in the network’s academic success? Eva Moskowitz’s critics think so. They 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.
The 44 suspensions at this school were issued to just 11 kindergartners and first graders. One child was suspended 12 times. Eventually, the family withdrew the child. At another Success Academy, 101 suspensions went to just 32 students.
JOHN MERROW: Do you ever use out-of-school suspension as a way to persuade parents that…
EVA MOSKOWITZ: No. No. We don’t suspend in order to boost our academics. Like, that’s just crazy talk.
JOHN MERROW: But our sources, including several public school principals, quite a few former Success Academy parents, and one person inside her organization, charge that is exactly what she does, repeatedly suspend certain kids to push them out. However, none of these critics were willing to publicly confront Moskowitz.
EVA MOSKOWITZ: Well, the numbers just don’t support that, John. I mean, what you get is what you see, which is suspending kids doesn’t lead to high attrition rate. That is what the data shows.
JOHN MERROW: In fact, the attrition rate is at least twice that of another major charter network, KIPP. A Success Academy representative told thaws for every 100 new students, at least 10 leave before the year’s out, most of them in the first few months. They are then replaced by students chosen from the waiting list.
Had Moskowitz run for mayor, this was the kind of thing that would have gotten zoned in on during the campaign - and I guarantee you, Eva and Success would not stand up to real scrutiny.
Not with those suspension numbers, not with those those attrition numbers and especially not with the anecdotes from former students and their parents.