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The Awful Inhumanity of Life at NY’s Success Academy

September 27, 2020

Eva Moskowitz is a former NYC council woman who was chosen by hedge funders to operate a charter school chain in New York, Success Academy (SA).

Her authoritatian leadership produces high test scores (from “little test-taking machines”)– and high student and teacher attrition. 

 SA’s ever-percolating dysfunction has found expression on the Instagram site, @survivors_of_successacademy, described as “a place to anonymously share your experience of racism and/or mismanagement at Success Academy.”

Below are some entries detailing a twisted inhumanity at SA:

“On my last day at SA as an assistant, I fainted in the blocks room with my K kids. This was after a nonstop day, in the hot sun with them outside, and no lunch break besides trying to snack when I could sneak away to my bag really quick during the day. … My head teacher was annoyed I missed dismissal because I fainted. She realized it was bad when I needed my dad to pick me bc I wasn’t comfortable driving. I called the dean on the way home and quit.”

“In the 2018-19 school year, my leadership team made us keep scholars who had low grade fevers in school. I would call their parents and tell them we would ‘monitor’ the situation, even though SA guidelines are to have scholars with a fever  sent home. Only if the fever kept rising is when we would ask for them to [be] picked up. My direct manager, a business operations manager, made the main office switch from an in-ear thermometer to an orl thermometer because she thought the ear thermometer was giving inaccurate results. She then told us we couldn’t order the oral thermometer covers because it would make the readings higher. When we expressed to her how unhygienic that was, she told us to ‘wipe the thermometer with an alcohol pad after each use.'”

“[One of our teachers this year] wasn’t feeling well on a Wednesday and found out she had the flu. She was still asked to come in for the full day Thursday because she was teaching by herself and they ‘coudn’t find’ coverage for her. Even after she messaged out that she had thrown up in her room and needed assistance, she was asked to stay because her AP wanted her to go to the grade team meeting. She wasn’t allowed to go home until another teacher took a picture of her curled under her desk during her break and showed it to leadership. After she went home and took the next day off, leadership was annoyed and tried to get staff to chime in and talk about her because she had taken a sick day with the flu.”

“Once a teacher was hit by a taxi and still came to work. Everyone applauded her for her dedication but this was just the culture. No sick days, no personal days. My husband had surgery and I was so brainwashed that I didn’t even take the day off to help him.”

“It’s sad because we become so used to getting treated like we’re less than human. I used to have panic attacks in the middle of the day because I had so much on my plate (SA was not my first job so I knew it wasn’t supposed to be this way). I’d lock myself in a closet because I knew that if anyone saw me crying it would count against me. And it did. I was once told in a mid year review that I needed to work on my ’emotional stability’ because I cried too often. But I was so overworked, under paid and dispensable to them and my inability to do my job well was a lack of their training and support.”

“We were pressured to get kids to come in sick for attendance data purposes (especially during testing season). We told parents of sick kids to give them medication to lower their fevers and come in to take ‘important’ practice tests. Typically the fever came back and they were sent home afterwards. Not only did this cause undue stress for the sick child but also created problems for the parent who then had to leave work to pick them up. If a parent can’t pick them up and their fever gets too high, we could not legally give them medication and had to call 911– and the parent had to foot the bill, no SA.”

“One night, I worked at the school until 10PM. The following morning, I fell asleep driving to work at 6AM and got into a car wreck. I immediately called my principal. The next day she was upset with me for not explicitly telling her I wasn’t coming in. After the crash, my doctor wanted me to have a sleep study done. When I told the principal that I would need to come in late, her response was, ‘you might have personal problems, but I need you to run Ops [operations].’ The experience crushed me, and I left education altogether.”

“I was a 1st grade teacher at [SA school] and had pink eye. I knew I had to come to school to prove it which in itself is troubling but when I showed my principal, she didn’t let me leave to go to the doctor… no she told me to wear sunglasses.”

“I taught at [same SA school as sbove] where I’ve literally had to throw up in the hallway before I was allowed to go home sick. I got out of bed sick, rode [the train] sick just to be sick at school cause there’s no such thing as calling out sick.”

“I taught science at SA for a little under two years. The way the teachers speak and act around black and brown children is completelt f***ed up. I never, EVER had any ‘outlier’ behavior in my classrom, and yet, I would constantly hear homeroom teachers explain how their kids were horrible and violent… and they were always the black and brown kids. It’s disgusting. I had to leave after I had Six year olds SOB because they failed a science test. I had one second grader have to see the school psych because she would dig her nails into her hands because she was overwhlemed with anxiety over tests. I couldn’t do it. That place is a hell and they show off how ‘diverse’ and ‘inclusive’ they are during enrollment tours. I was literally like we were showing off children to white upper class families and donors. Absolutely disgusting.”

And this– for this, I have no sufficient words–

 

“A white assistant principal created this bulletin board of effigies of black bodies hanging upside down from a tree. SA staff, school safety and cafeteria employees complained and it was taken down. However it was never acknowledged nor apologized for.”

 

Success Academy, where humanity is trashed.

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4 Comments
  1. I am so happy my students have teachers in a union.

  2. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Endangering staff and students is the secret to success. These conditions would not be tolerated in any workplace where teachers had rights and where students were all white.

  3. “. . . my leadership team made us keep scholars. . . ” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ad infinitum. . . .

  4. Jack permalink

    My favorite bit from this Instagram site:

    — this private, 2-line text exchange between two Success Academy (S.A.) executives that someone saved and leaked, and which shows the complete contempt for which they hold both their students’ parents and those parents’ needs and concerns:

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    (S.A. Executive NAME REDACTED):

    “Ms. (REDACTED), mother of (REDACTED), would like to meet with you to discuss her frustrations with S.A. When would you like to meet?”

    (Higher-up S.A. Exec. — possibly Eva — NAME REDACTED):

    “Ideally never.”

    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

    To any Success Academy parents reading this, this is what the S.A. leaders think of you. When they let their hair down in private and talk honestly, this is how much they respect and care about you.

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