Friday, February 26, 2016

Who Holds Success Academy Accountable for Child Abuse?

Nadya Miranda. the mother of the first grade child berated by her teacher in the infamous video published by the New York Times, has spoken out for the first time by giving an interview to the Times. In the interview she reports how she has withdrawn her child from the school and how she felt her child had been robbed of her confidence as a learner in her Success Academy classroom. She also expressed her frustration that she only received an apology from the school and the teacher after the video became public and that her child had never received an apology from the teacher, Ms. Dial. Ms. Miranda feels like Success Academy rallied to the defense of the teacher and ignored the impact of the verbal abuse on her child. Please read the article for a sense of the shattered hopes and dreams of Ms. Miranda and her daughter.

One thing that stood out for me in the article was this paragraph at the end of the piece.

Seeking to hold someone accountable for what happened to her daughter, Ms. Miranda went into a Department of Education building in Brooklyn to ask about filing a complaint, but was told that Success was independent from the school district. She said that Ms. Nicholls, the principal, had given her information about how to reach Success’s board of trustees, and that she had sent a letter, but she was not optimistic that she would get a response.

Ms. Miranda went to the public school authority where she was told they could not help her. Her only recourse was to go to the Success Academy Board where she rightly was not hopeful for a response. Why would she expect a response from a board led by CEO Eva Moskowitz, who had already sided with the teacher and not her child in this controversy? I wonder if Ms. Miranda and the other parents who send their children to Success Academy and other supposedly "public" charter schools knew they were giving up their rights to file a complaint with the public school overseers.

So when the question comes down to who holds Eva Moskowitz and her Success Academy juggernaut accountable for systemic child abuse, the answer turns out to be Eva Moskowitz and her hand picked board of directors including such enlightened luminaries as former TV anchor person and current teacher basher, Campbell Brown and failed Newark mayoral candidate and current charter school shill, Shavar Jeffries. Talk about leaving the fox in charge of the hen house!

Beneath this tragic story of one child's abuse at the hands of a teacher, lies a broader concern. Who holds charter schools accountable for their actions? In any public school, a publicly elected school board has responsibility and must, by the very fact of being elected, be responsive to that public, however imperfectly at times. In the world of the charter school, apparently, while the public supports them through tax dollars, the public has no voice in what goes on behind those walls financially, instructionally or socially and emotionally.

The great irony, of course, is that while reformers cry for all kinds of accountability measures for traditional public schools and certified public school teachers, there is no such outcry from them about accountability for a supposedly public charter school and its uncertified teachers.