November 23, 2022

Gary Rubinstein: “I was told my seventh grade daughter had to repeat entire grade because she failed one course by one point”

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Gary Rubinstein has been speaking to Success Academy parents about their experiences in New York’s well-known charter chain. This time it’s the story of “Carla,” a student who struggled with distance learning during the pandemic (because it was not just public schools that closed their buildings during those days). And she did not bounce back quickly.

But she was still suffering the effects of the 18 months of remote learning.  She was having mental health issues and was seeing a therapist about them.  At school she was failing several classes.  Carla is a very hard working student and someone who really tries her best and her parents work very hard to support her needs and to keep on top of what assignments Carla was missing.  Everyone knows that Success Academy has one trick in their playbook which is to make students repeat grades for failing courses.  So Carla managed to improve most of her grades but she still failed two subjects, writing and science and was told that she would have to pass those two courses in summer school or she would have to repeat the entire seventh grade.

How Success Academy can make such a threat is incomprehensible to me.  For elementary school grades it makes more sense, but in a secondary school setting, why not just retake the courses that you failed?  But that wasn’t the threat, it was that she had to pass both courses with a 70 or higher or she would be repeating the entire seventh grade, including all the classes that she had passed.

A lot of students had to go to the Success Academy summer school program which, unfortunately, was remote and asynchronous.  So the very thing that set Carla back in 2020 was now back in her life.  She struggled but with her parent’s support she completed most of the work by the time that summer school was ending.  When she got her report card, however, she and her family were devastated when they read it.

Carla has failed one course by one point. What followed was an attempt to deal with the school, which turned out to be just as cold and unresponsive and uncaring as any impersonal public institution. Read the full story here. 

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