11 thoughts on “What’s Behind the Bill de Blasio-Eva Moskowitz Feud Over Charters

  1. Could reporters please stop using the “wait list” numbers generated by charter schools themselves. They are absurd. Putting your name in a charter list doesn’t mean it is your top choice, and charters often count someone who applies to many schools in a charter network as 3 separate “wait list numbers”. So in charter talk, a single child’s application to 3 schools in your network allows you to claim that 3 kids are on your waitlist! In NYC, there is middle school and high school “choice”. Some PUBLIC schools have 10,000 applicants for a 200 seat school. But they really do NOT have over 8,000 students on the wait list because most of the students preferred a different school. Brooklyn Tech doesn’t have a waiting list of 20,000 just because 22,000 students ranked it somewhere on their list of choices. Charters are the only types of schools that count a child who makes the charter their 10th choice as being on a “waitlist” in order to imply a demand that just isn’t there.

    A better question is how many students REJECTED their charter school spot? If a school admits 100 students and students are being admitted who are number 300 on the wait list, that means more than one out of every two kids who signed up for the lottery preferred a different school. Sometimes it is one out of three students who reject their charter school spot. But the way it gets reported here, if a child signs up for Kipp, Success, and Icahn charter schools, each school can claim him, and it triples the overall charter demand! If public schools did that, they could pretend there was 10x the demand for schools as there were students! Accurate reporting on this issue would help everyone.

      • Two suggestions: Make the process very transparent. How far down the wait list does a school go? For the past 2 years, how many out of district Kindergarten or new older grade students entered a Success Academy school? If there isn’t even enough in-district demand to fill every seat, please don’t imply an “estimated wait list of 23,000”.

        It’s also seems silly to make “demand” the most important thing. If a charter isn’t spending a lot of its money marketing all over the place, and they don’t have the same “demand”, does that make them less worthy? If we only focus on demand, the incentive is for charters to worry most about public relations and marketing and part of that may be having a “got to go” list (even if it isn’t e-mailed) because the students with low scores damage your “brand”. This really should be about how to best serve the children in failing public schools. Spending money to market to the best of them and lots of middle class parents is not, to me, a good expenditure of resources. It’s like the colleges now — so much money wasted on getting high school seniors to apply to your school because those colleges are desperate to “prove’ they are selective by turning down students who apply! Do you know some colleges are now waiving application fees? The point is to be able to say that you “only” accepted 20% of the students who applied. (Even if 80% of the students you accepted were the ones who applied early decision and committed to the school and out of those students you accepted most of them even if they were mediocre students). It’s all about manipulating the numbers that make you look better in the “selectivity” index. What a huge waste of money and time.

        The charter and public schools doing the best job with at-risk kids are the ones we will never hear of. They may not have “100% passing the state exams”, but they spend all their money on doing the tough job of keeping and educating all students. And making them all feel wanted. How sad that we bash them for that, and generously reward the ones who claim to be doing something they aren’t.

        • Thank you, here are my thoughts. The way the wait list work, after the lottery, SA assigns some applicants as accepted, very likely, likely and not likely, based on their estimates. I think, it would be interesting to know the % of the “very likely likely” applicants that ended up in the school. For example, let’s say in K a given SA school has 3 classes of 28 (84 spots in total). Say, 14 spots went to siblings plus 10 more spots for ELL students etc.., leaving 60 spots available. Now I would be interested, how many of the top 60 applicants on the list ended up going to SA. I would love to know that statistic by SA school, as well as SA-wide.

          • Sure, that sounds good and also why not find out how many students get the “very likely” and “likely” notice? Is it the first 100? The first 20? And does that vary by school? Are some schools taking out of zone applicants? And how does that work for the 3rd and 4th grade? What are the chances that if your child performs above grade level, he would get turned down for a spot in the 3rd or 4th grade?

            Are you positive that there would be 10 spots for ELL applicants? My understanding is that a charter can give preference to siblings or ELL or at-risk students, but cannot reserve just a limited amount of seats for them. Isn’t that why Success Academy dropped preferences for ELL and at-risk kids? I know at one time they only wanted to set aside a certain number of seats and not just give a general preference, but they were told it could not be a set aside of a certain percent and since they could not do that, they dropped the preference altogether. (It mystified me, but maybe they thought they’d get too many ELL students?)

  2. Ruth Ford, quick correction: “..a refusal to fill empty seats above the third grade with students who haven’t come up through the network’s ranks…” . Currently, Success Academy backfills through 4th grade, not 3rd grade as reported in the article. Thanks

    • This is true — I believe they just changed that policy a year ago, correct? However, it is very important that readers understand that “backfilling” is very different than taking in the first cohort of children in Kindergarten because every child who wins a lottery seat must be placed in Kindergarten. At Success Academy, if a child wins a seat for an older grade, he or she is tested and if he is not at grade level, Success Academy tells the parent they must join whatever grade they believe appropriate. So by definition, every single new child who joins the third, second, or first grade must already prove they are working at grade level from their education at other schools! It would be quite interesting to see how many of the children who are only offered a seat on the condition they repeat a year or two turn it down. NY 1 reported on one child from Williamsburg who was upset her previous public school said they no longer had room for her. She had completed first grade at the public school, and then notified them that she was leaving to take a 2nd grade spot at Success Academy. But when her parents learned she would have to repeat 1st grade again if she wanted to attend Success Academy, they returned to the public school, and under pressure, that public school eventually took her back despite being overcrowded. So every older child who joins 2nd or 3rd grade is already working at grade level. If backfilled students comprise a significant percentage of your older grades, it is a red flag that your school does better with students already on grade level. As I assume all the children of the parents who post here are.

      That is why the only good way to see whether Eva Moskowitz claims to be able to educate any child but the most violent 5 year olds and those who have such severe special needs that they can only be educated in a District 75 school is to simply look at what happened to all the Kindergarten children who ever began at Success Academy. From the IBO report, it certainly implies that 40 or 50% of them left before 5th grade — maybe even more. And it appears that the at-risk kids are leaving at a much higher % than the middle class white students who seem to only be found at a few certain schools where they comprise the largest cohort of students and where both attrition and suspension rates seem to be significantly lower.

      What are the exact attrition rates in each Success Academy school? Is there a difference in attrition rate (and is it significant) between African-American and Latino students and white students. Is there a difference between the attrition rates of at-risk students and the attrition rates of middle class students?

      When you make claims to have the solution to failing public schools, and you point to your results to prove it, you should be welcoming a close look. If your attrition rate of at-risk children who enter in Kindergarten is high, and you are trying to hide it by marketing to middle class children or discouraging any child who isn’t already at grade level to enter at an older grade, then you do not honestly want to help at risk kids. You want to promote your brand. Because your dishonest claims that every kid but the ones who belong ONLY in District 75 schools can be served by Success Academy hurt every child in this city.

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