Thursday, August 23, 2018

No Special Ed. for You, Says Eva Moskowitz

There's a pretty amazing story over at the NYC Parents Blog. Evidently Eva Moskowitz deems it too difficult to find certified Special Education teachers, so she's telling special ed. students and their parents they can either piss off or be left back. How inconvenient it must be for Eva to follow laws and do her job. After all, she works for less than a million bucks a year and you can hardly buy a decent house in Queens for that anymore. From the NYC Parents Blog:

In June, I was contacted by two parents whose fifth-grade special needs children were in a self-contained 12-1-1 class at Success Academy Bed Stuy middle school. They told me how the principal, Rishabh Agarwal, had brought them individually into his office and told them that the school was getting rid of their 12-1-1 self-contained program, because the school didn’t know how to educate kids with special needs and it was too difficult to find a certified special education teacher. 
He said their only two choices were to agree to have their kids held back in a regular 5th grade class or transfer them to a different school outside the Success charter network of 46 schools.

Can you imagine such a thing occurring at a public school? If your school did that, you wouldn't be reading about it on Leonie Haimson's blog. It would be all over the tabloids and your principal would be scrambling to keep her worthless ass at the job. Sorry, it's just too inconvenient for us to serve your kid. We can't be bothered looking for a teacher. Can you imagine that from a public school leader?

Of course it isn't from a public school leader, but rather from the self-appointed Great Savior of New York City's children, Eva Moskowitz herself. They make movies about charter schools, you know. All the reformies go out and sing their praises. They will finally help all the children that the evil public schools are failing. It's about time.

But as we learn more an more about them, what we find is that they cherry pick their students. Along the way, they lose most of those with whom they start out. They fully expect us to ignore such things and claim that 100% of those who graduate go to college. Sometimes they all go to four-year colleges. And that's fine, but it's no miracle at all, especially when you've lost the majority of your kids to the public school system, you know, the one that fails everyone because it's full of horrible indifferent teachers like yours truly.

Here we find a case of their blatantly ignoring not only the needs of the children they take our money to serve, but also the law. We haven't got room for you in the classes we see fit to create, so we're gonna hold you back a grade for no reason. If this isn't an attempt to intimidate parents to move their special needs kids elsewhere, I'm not sure what is.

Here's a fact of life--special ed. teachers are indeed hard to find. My school is one of the most desirable places to work in the city and I often see admin have issues. It's even harder now that they've upped the requirements and demanded that teachers be dually licensed. Despite these issues, no administrator has called a parent and demanded that students either get out of our school or be left back, not ever. In our school, we take everyone. We have an entire program of alternate assessment students in our school, students who will never graduate. That will be counted against us in our records, though it's neither our fault nor that of the kids. If you run into Eva, ask her how many alternate assessment students are in Moskowitz Academies.

The reason for this is that we are really a public school. Charter schools are public only in the sense that they take our money. Eva Moskowitz famously refused to sign the agreement every other New York City school did to offer pre-K, and slogged through the courts until she could weasel her way out of it. If she can't do what she wants, how she wants, she won't do it at all.

More and more we are learning the limits of Eva's educational miracle. She fails the overwhelming majority of kids who start her program, and a remarkable 80% don't complete it. One Moskowitz Academy principal got caught with a "got to go" list, a list of children they wanted to dump from the program. Moskowitz calls this an anomaly, but who knows how many other such lists there are or have been? It's remarkable, in fact, we even know about this one. We see awful treatment of children and are left to wonder just how frequent it is. I'd argue taking students to Albany as pawns to make a political point is child abuse. Moskowitz gets away with it because rules don't apply to her, but if I did that with my students I'd be fired, and justifiably so.

It's unconscionable that we let children be treated this way. It's a travesty that we allow any school to take a single dime from our tax dollars and then flip the public the bird like this. Of course, there are those suitcases of hedge fund cash that travel from DFER to Governor Cuomo, so he turns a blind eye, even while mustering the audacity to call himself a "student lobbyist." When Bill de Blasio dared to deny space to the Moskowitz Academy, Cuomo and the Heavy-Hearted Assembly passed regulations that, if he denied them space, the city would have to pay their rent anyway.

It's sad that our children's education is up for sale in Albany. On September 13th I will vote for Cynthia Nixon, Jumaane Williams, and Zephyr Teachout. None of them take money from Eva's stooges. I'm a registered Democrat so I can get a vote in these primaries. I hope you are too. Please don't be one of those people who sleeps in or gets a haircut that day. People like that are precisely why we have a blight of unaccountable charter schools taking our money and abusing our children.
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