An NYC teacher says “There has to be misery for kids???”

An NYC teacher says “There has to be misery for kids???”

I’m wary of seeming to wade into the charter school debate. But part of our mission in SNAP is to “protect the vulnerable” and we have long helped those hurt in any institutional setting – not just churches but schools, camps and athletic leagues too.

And few hold a higher opinion of teachers than I do. So I’m reluctant to criticize them.

Still, here’s what struck and worried me, in a New York Times story today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html

Three years ago, a principal at a charter school, frustrated by students’ test scores, sent an email to her fourth-grade teachers: “There has to be misery felt for the kids who are not doing what is expected of them.”

I immediately thought: “I can’t be reading this right.”

But the Times reporter interprets it in the same way I do. That journalist, Kate Taylor, wrote “One school leader said students who were lagging should be made to feel ‘misery.’”

And the founder of that chain of charter schools, Eva Moskowitz, when challenged about this memo, defended it, saying:

“We use that terminology sometimes, meaning, you know, ‘Kids, you got to get it right the first time, and we’re not playing.’ That is part of our culture — not having kids getting away with just not trying.”

Call me a stickler, a wimp, ‘out of touch’ or whatever. But in my view, there’s a massive difference between seeking more effort from kids and seeking more misery for kids.

Again, I’m no teacher. And I applaud those who are because it’s a tough profession with far too little reward and appreciation.

Still, I can’t help but fear what’s happening in schools when officials write about causing misery to children.

It likely does not bode well for the safety of kids in schools like this.

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