Imagine a school where the principal keeps a "Got to Go" list of the kids they plan to push out through harsh discipline or administrative deception. According to the New York Times1, that's exactly what happened at Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City.
Fatima Geidi—a mother who had to remove her child with special needs from a Success Academy school after repeated suspensions for minor infractions—has started a petition with our partners at Color of Change, asking the Department of Education to conduct a civil rights investigation into Success Academy Charter Schools and to halt federal funding during the investigation. You can sign her petition here.
In exchange for taxpayer funding, charter schools are required to serve all students. But at Success Academy, "zero-tolerance" policies and draconian rules are used to justify a suspension rate more than seven times higher than at other city schools2.
Moskowitz claims that the "Got to Go" list was the work of a single, overzealous principal. But recent reporting on Success Academy's extreme discipline policies—including suspending kindergartners for "infractions" like not sitting still or calling out answers in class3—make it clear that a broader investigation is needed to ensure the fair treatment of more than 11,000 students who attend Success Academy's 34 schools.
Zero-tolerance policies disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities. Out of school suspensions discourage kids from returning to school—which is exactly how Success Academy tried to get rid of the kids placed on their "Got to Go" list.
Many of us—myself included—advocated for zero-tolerance policies, thinking they would lead to safer schools and better learning environments. We were wrong. More than two decades of data show these policies have failed to improve school safety. As I recently wrote in the New York Daily News4, we need practices that will help kids learn positive behaviors, not punishments that push them out of school.
We should not reward schools that use suspensions to intentionally push kids out of school. Please sign Fatima's petition, and ask the Department of Education to hold Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy accountable.
1: At A Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Students Who Have 'Got to Go' The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-...
2: Student Discipline, Race and Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy Charter Schools, The Albert Shanker Institute http://www.shankerinstitute.org/blog/student-discipline-race-and-eva-mos...'s-success-academy-charter-schools
3: Is kindergarten too young to suspend a student? PBS NewsHour http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/kindergarten-young-suspend-student/
4: Our school discipline mistake: We should never have imposed zero-tolerance policies on kids, New York Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/randi-weingarten-school-discipline-mi...