At Success Academy, the largest charter school network in New York City, expectations are extremely high and it shows.
Students in the Success Academy far outperform students in traditional public schools (TPS) in New York City on standardised tests — even students in wealthy zip codes, as Reason has pointed out.
But the network has come under increasing scrutiny for the pressure it puts on its students.
On Friday, a video emerged of a first-grade Success Academy teacher berating a student who could not answer a maths question correctly, The New York Times reported. The CEO of Success Academy said the video was an anomaly, and the teacher in the video called it a “lapse in emotional control,” according to The Times. It is still disturbing to watch, especially since The Times’ interviews with 20 current and former Success Academy teachers suggested her actions were extreme but not uncommon.
The student asks the student to answer a question for the class. The student appears to struggle with the correct answer, and the teacher rips up the student’s school work and shouts for her to get in the “calm-down” chair.
“There’s nothing that infuriates me more than when you don’t do what’s on your paper,” the video captures the teacher saying.
The video was taken in 2014 by an assistant teacher in the classroom and was sent to The Times last November.
The teacher in the video was suspended in January pending an investigation into the video, but was reinstated a week and a half later, according to The Times.
She is considered a model teacher within the network, according to The Times. However, Joseph P. McDonald, a professor of teaching at New York University’s school of education, told The Times that her behaviour was “abusive teaching.”
The teacher in the video released the following statement to The Times:
“I’m deeply committed to the children and families of our school, and I’m sorry for my lapse in emotional control 15 months ago. As I tell my scholars to do, I will learn from this mistake and be a better teacher for it.”
This isn’t the first time Success Academy has come under fire for questionable practices at their schools.
Last year, a New York Times report alleged that students in the third grade and above were wetting themselves in classrooms because they felt so stressed out and didn’t want to lose time during standardised tests. The same article described the public shaming of students for poor grades.
But administrators at Success Academy claim that their tactics are a result of holding all students accountable for success.
“That is part of our culture — not having kids getting away with just not trying,” Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy, told the Times in 2015.
Moskowitz, a former City Council member, is a divisive figure who has butted heads with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the expansion of charter schools.
Success Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. The charter school network is holding a 2 p.m. press conference to address the video.
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