So much has been written about Success Academy’s ability to post results with disadvantaged children on a par with affluent children from the New York suburbs that people are wondering if the outcomes are too good to be true (“The Parent Trap,” The New York Times, Sep. 29). Yet a closer look reveals that there is no miracle there. It’s that Success Academy functions essentially as a private school, albeit supported by taxes like traditional public schools.
Traditional public schools by law must enroll all who show up at their door regardless of motivation, ability or interest. Moreover, they can’t expel problem students except for the most egregious behavior. As a result, they can’t possibly compete with Success Academy, which requires parents to sign a contract to agree to read aloud six books to their children every week through second grade and monitor their children’s reading and homework through high school. Parents of students with behavior problems are pressured to withdraw them. Other public schools can do none of the above.
It’s little wonder, therefore, that Success Academy is in a league of its own, operating by its own rules. That’s why I continue to believe that if all public schools were allowed to do what Success Academy does, there would be no significant differences in outcomes.
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