A secretly recorded minute-long video clip of a Success Academy teacher scolding her first-grade students led to a public outcry when it was published in The New York Times last week, but will the incident result in fewer parents vying to get their kids into one of the network's 34 schools? I doubt it.
Success Academy schools are charters, so parents get to decide if they want to apply or take their business elsewhere. And charters aren't part of the traditional public school district, which helps insulate them from the kind of district-level interference that can be easily provoked by attention-grabbing articles in The New York Times.
The charter network's founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz, says that the video clip, in which a first-grade teacher scolds her class and rips up a student's work, depicted an isolated moment. Parents interviewed by the Times described the teacher as unusually loving and nurturing towards her students.
"Nobody would ever argue the video displayed that teacher's finest hour, but she's there, swinging away, trying to get the kids to strain for something a bit higher and more rigorous," writes Belinda Luscombe in Time. "But is misdirected passion worse than teaching by the books?"
The answer, Luscombe concludes, is that the approach may be right for some kids but not others. My guess is that Success Academy will continue to get at least five applications for every kindergarten spot because there are enough parents who think that its intense approach to teaching and learning is right for their kids.
How about all the rest? In a column at The Seventy Four, Derrell Bradford, who's the executive director of the New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN) and a Success Academy board member, has some sage advice for the "haters:"
If you want Success, or other "no excuses" schools to go away because you think your own brand of education is superior, because you don't respect that other parents like it and seek it out, you don't value the structure, or you want your kid to be a grass-fed open-range child, then you just have to, counterintuitively, do one thing: open more charter schools.
Reason's Nick Gillespie recently sat down with Robert Pondiscio from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute to discuss how Success Academy and other charters are helping to dispel the myth that every schools must be designed to serve every type of kid. Click below to watch: