“You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between”
- Johnny Mercer
Jonny Mercer articulated the formula for the academic achievements of Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy long before there was such a thing.
The Sturm und Drang around Success Academy really boils down to an equity versus efficiency argument that may not represent the actual trade-off. If a charter school puts it emphasis on the positive academic achievers and has the option of winnowing out the negative academic failures, is it a fair comparison to a public school which doesn’t have those options?
No, it is not.
What seems to have been overlooked is some stringent measurement that skimming off the top level of academic talent has a significant adverse impact on the academic development of those winnowed out? Given the breath taking levels of academic achievement by those with talent, at Success Academy it seems that those with the least ability have had significant adverse impact on the talented.
“Starting with self-selected, active and engaged parents, Success Academy gets results that are bewilderingly consistent across dozens of campuses, easily outpacing New York’s gifted and talented programs, which actually do handpick students and affluent suburban districts where real estate prices are the first and last word in self-selection, sorting and creaming. Last year, the poorest-performing Success Academy School had 85 percent of its students pass the state English Language Arts test. The worst math pass rate among 37 schools with students in testing grades was 92 percent. If critics want to argue that Moskowitz is merely aggregating talent, not developing it or adding value, those results among thousands of children and dozens of schools must be credibly explained away. And they can’t be.” - Robert Pondiscio
“Success Academy’ “scholars” crushed the competition again this year [2018-2019] on New York state math and English Language Arts exams.
Of 7,405 Success Academy kids in grades 3 to 8 who took the exams, 99% tested proficient or higher in math, 90% in English. By contrast, in schools run by the city Department of Education, 46% of students passed math, and 47% English.
They also outscored several affluent Westchester and Long Island school districts. For instance, Success Academy, with 94% black and Hispanic students from families with an average $49,800 household income, beat Scarsdale public schools, where 8% of kids are black and Hispanic, and the average family income $291,542. There, 88% passed math and 85% English.” - (https://nypost.com/2019/09/07/new-book-tells-secrets-and-surprises-of-success-academys-winning-academics)
American society has a strong streak of anti-intellectualism manifested in such terms as “egg-head” and “nerd.” This can be particular troublesome in the African-American community. Chris Rock, the comedian comments on the pervasiveness of this attitude [Warning! Provocative Language] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3PJF0YE-x4 (2:53 - 3:51).