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Alan Singer: Why Didn’t Chalkbeat Cover the Student Unrest at Success Academy?

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In a provocative and insightful article, Alan Singer wonders why Chalkbeat did not cover the student unrest at Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy?

He follows the money and sees who is funding Chalkbeat. How can Chalkbeat be independent when it is funded by reformers and its editor-in-chief thinks that SA is the best education she has ever seen?

And then there is this: SA is flooded with more money than any school in America:

Since January 2018, Chalkbeat New York has posted eight articles on New York’s Success Academy Charter School Network. The most recent article covered the graduation ceremony held for the network high schools SIXTEEN graduating seniors at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. An April article featured the Success Academy’s “Slam the Exam” test rally at the 19,000 seat Barclay’s Arena in Brooklyn. The bill for a 2013 high school graduation held at Barclay Center was $60,000.

According to its webpage, “Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. We are mission-driven, in that we believe that every child deserves an excellent education, and that a strong press is vital to making that happen. Yet we are also fiercely independent, in that we do not take a position on the best path for achieving equity.” The webpage also stresses Chalkbeat’s commitment to local news coverage.

I do not understand why Chalkbeat did not cover student protests at the Success Academy Charter School Network’s high schools during the 2017-2018 academic year, especially since the protests were covered in New York’s regular press and in other web news magazines. Complaints about the cost of a new dress code and January 2018 protests against an oppressive disciplinary code were covered by the political website Politico. The Wall Street Journal had a feature on “growing pains” at the Network’s two high schools in March 2018. Student protests about unfair summer homework assignments were reported on in the Daily News. None of these issues were covered by Chalkbeat.

How many public schools can rent a stadium for $60,000 for a test-prep rally? 0.

Last year, SA rented Radio City Music Hall. No word on the cost of that very expensive venue.

Next year, maybe Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium.

How many schools can hold a graduation ceremony for 16 students in one of NYC’s most significant concert halls? Singer should find out how much that ceremony cost. It may have been almost as much as the Barclay’s Center and so much more prestigious.

P.S. We still don’t know what happened to the “lone scholar” who was on the senior class rolls until just a few weeks before graduation. Did his shirt tail hang out? Did she forget to walk in a straight line? Did she fail to “track” the teacher?

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