Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Success Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online - WSJ

Success Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online - WSJ:
Success Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online
Push to present the charter school network as a national model comes after months of increased scrutiny



 Success Academy Charter Schools intends to start posting its lesson plans online this summer, going so far as to specify what type of snail is the best for kindergartners’ science experiments.

Eva Moskowitz, founder of the growing charter network, said she hopes sharing her curriculum and teacher training resources at no charge will help shift the focus of debates on education from politics to the nitty-gritty of what children need to know, how they learn best and how to pace instruction.
“These are all really important questions if America is going to find its way out of the educational quagmire it’s in,” she said in an interview. “It’s not only our disadvantaged students who are suffering terribly. Even our affluent students are not doing so well internationally.”
This push to present Success Academy as a national model comes after months of increased scrutiny of the network, which consistently racks up high scores on state exams, far outpacing city and state averages. Most of its students are poor children of color.
Critics say the organization systemically nudges out the hardest-to-serve students, an accusation Ms. Moskowitz denies. It was sued this year by several families who said their struggling children were harassed into leaving through harsh discipline, excessive suspensions and other means. The network’s oversight body at the State University of New York is also investigating the allegations.
Amid the criticism, the network has garnered support as well, including a $25 million grant in April from the Robertson Foundation to expand its influence. Success Academy was named one of three finalists for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, a national award for charter-management organizations.
Ms. Moskowitz said she has long planned an online trove of literacy lessons, science experiments and math problems that her staff has developed.
Educators around the U.S. often ask for Success Academy’s materials and workshops for teachers and principals, she said. “It made sense, given the volume of requests, to just share it all as soon as we can.”
With 34 schools in New York City, Success Academy aims to have 50 sites in two years and 100 in a decade in the city. Charters are publicly funded and independently operated, and usually aren’t unionized. Opponents say they drain precious money and space from traditional public schools.
Other networks have also sought to fulfill one of the original missions of charters, to innovate and share what works. Uncommon Schools, for example, has released eight books on its methods. The national nonprofit has held free training sessions with host districts, and sells videos and workshops as well.
A frequent critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s teachers union, Ms. Moskowitz often presents her network as a refuge for students escaping low-performing public schools and their bureaucracy. The mayor campaigned promising to curb charter schools’ growth and has clashed with Ms. Moskowitz over the city’s obligation toSuccess Academy Charter Schools Plans to Share Curriculum Online - WSJ:

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