Letter: Crowley continues to put the cart before the horse

Posted 11/14/19

Joseph Crowley’s recent letter, entitled  “ The real problem with our schools is poverty, ” continues a theme that he pursued in two previous letters. As I noted in a previous …

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Letter: Crowley continues to put the cart before the horse


Joseph Crowley’s recent letter, entitled  “The real problem with our schools is poverty,” continues a theme that he pursued in two previous letters. As I noted in a previous response, Mr. Crowley has the poverty cart before the education horse.

He does have several good ideas in his latest article, but his basic assumption about poverty is not borne out by experience. I would encourage him to read Robert Pondiscio’s new book, “How the Other Half Learns,” in which Pondiscio chronicles what he observed in the year he spent in the Success Academy Bronx Charter School.

Success Academy is New York City and the state’s largest and fastest-growing charter school network and by far, the most successful. Success Academy serves in Harlem, the South Bronx, and other parts of the city. The school’s detailed design is tailored to the needs of its students, and teachers and administrators are expected to implement it thoroughly.

This attention to planning sets Success apart from other schools— much more so than its admissions policies, which have been the subject of intense controversy. Accountability of administrators, teachers, parents and students for positive student outcomes is a key pillar of this charter school’s success.

At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, student scores in math and English met or exceeded the performance of elementary school students in two of the state’s most affluent communities, Scarsdale and Bronxville, where no students are economically disadvantaged. With these results, one has to take Mr. Crowley’s poverty message with a little more than a grain of salt.

Michael Byrnes

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