Alan Singer, professor at Hofstra University in New York, wrote a column in the Huffington Post calling for the closure of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain.



He writes:



This is about a charter school network that systematically terrorizes young children to maintain total control over their behavior. This is about the Success Academy Charter School Network that should be investigated by state educational officials and the local district attorney’s office and probably shut down — permanently….


What stands out for me as I watched the video is the other children. It is a first-grade class. The children are probably six-years-old and all appear to be children of color, either African-American or Latino. During the math lesson while this little girl is being berated by the teacher, who is White, twelve children are seen sitting attentively, backs upright, hands folded in their laps, in a tight circle. Every child is in uniform. They do not smile or giggle. They are not allowed slouch. They are not allowed to squirm. They are not allowed to be children. They are terrorized into obedience fearful of being the next child targeted by a White authority figure.

The teacher, shown in the video, is what Success Academy considers a model teacher. Not only does she teach first-grade students, but she mentors other teachers in the Cobble Hill, Brooklyn school. After the incident surfaced, the teacher was suspended temporarily, but was returned to the classroom and her role as a mentor in less than two weeks. Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz dismissed the teacher’s behavior in the video as an “anomaly.”

Like many Success Academy personnel, this teacher has questionable teaching credentials. She is a 2009 graduate of Butler University in Indiana with a degree in sociology and political science, but without teacher certification. [CORRECTION: Reader David Kennedy says the teacher has a master’s degree in early childhood education, which means she should know that humiliating a child in front of her peers is inappropriate.] Online, including Success Academy webpages, I found no reference to how she was trained as a teacher.


Meanwhile, Chalkbeat NY reports that Eva Moskowitz convened a press conference, where she defended the teacher in the video and held a sign that says:


“New York Times:



“I’m tired of apologizing,” Moskowitz said at a press conference. Calling the video “an unfortunate moment,” she said, “Frustration is a human emotion. When you care about your students so much … and you want them to go to college and graduate, it can be frustrating.”


In the comments that followed the article, one commenter pointed out (like Singer) that the teacher who humiliated the first-grader was not certified. This, the writer said, was more evidence that charter schools are not public schools. Teachers in public schools must be certified.


I can’t help but wonder what the billionaires who fund Success Academy think of the bad press the charter chain has gotten recently. They created the group called “Families for Excellent Schools” to demand unlimited, free public space for charter schools, despite the overflowing coffers of Success Academy. They are now in Boston lobbying to lift the cap on charters in Massachusetts. What is it about the rigid discipline in SA charters that appeals to them. Is it the spirit of colonialism, masked as benevolence?