Monday, October 10, 2011

Former Achievement First parents speak out!

There is a fierce battle over whether an Achievement First charter school will open in Providence. RI-Can and the other Astroturf groups funded by the Walton Foundation and the hedge fund crowd are pushing hard, promoting the spread of this chain of charter schools.

As a public service, we are featuring the eloquent and stirring first-person accounts of two courageous and eloquent NYC parents, May Taliaferrow and Leslie-Ann Byfield, talking about what their children and other children endured at this charter school, known for its strict disciplinary policies and harsh treatment of students with disabilities. For more on Achievement First, see also this NY Post story, and this Facebook page.

The following videos, taken by Norman Scott of GEM, are outtakes from the terrific movie, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.

Please watch, if you have any question about these schools.





Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out: Why they removed their children Part 2 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.


Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out: Why they removed their children Part 3 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same exact scenario being played out Girls Prep Charter School in the Lower East Side. Many parents who are on waiting lists to attend charter schools have no idea what they are getting themselves into. My niece has been in Girls Prep for 5 years and it was a nice environment then all of a sudden last year thngs just fell apart. Charter Schools get away with infractions that if a parent inflicted on a child would be arrested for child abuse.

Anonymous said...

I applied for a position at Achievement First having had a successful teaching career and they were focused on discipline, discipline, discipline. I cam from a background in which my mother was a drug addict and I was homeless at the age of 13. I lived on the streets, found a job (a couple) and got my own apartment at 16. I didn't go to one of their fancy schools that they like to recruit from..only one took a chance on me, but I did get a BA and two MA's and if they had really tried to get to know me, they would have found out that my students scored at the top of state scores every year that I taught, that I had been a great coach and mentor, did a lot for the community and had saved not one but two children's lives. One almost bled to death in my arms.
Instead, I spent a great deal of time talking about discipline in the classroom....
Something is not right with this whole idea...children are not animals...they need inspiration...managing a classroom is easy after that.
I have already contacted our state representatives and will do everything to make sure that they do not get another school in our state.

Anonymous said...

As a previous employee of AF, I have to say they are the worst network charter one can work for. What parents don't know is that the rules and issuing out of consequences break the kids' spirits. They are barely allowed time to eat or interact socially w their peers. Students' clips are moved for disruptions, distractions and unsafe behaviors. Some of these things include: crying silently, tapping one's pencil on the desk and not sitting w hands folded. It's very structured...even recess. Academics isn't the focus...discipline is. Our principal stated it's this way bc that's what studies say Black kids need. Although 98% of the students are African American, AF will not hire many African American teachers. They prefer White and Asian teachers. After questioning this practice of theirs, the principal stated it's bc she looks for quality and has yet to find that amongst many African Americans. However, the majority of the teachers at Achievement First DO NOT have a teaching degree! Many of them are aren't even certified! However, they consider this quality and prefer to hire these people over people of color. Therefore, giving the students the impression that they're ok to teach but not to hire. Not only are the students treated poorly but the staff. Many of them are scared to speak out about the verbal abuse endured while teaching for AF. You are constantly told "you don't have what it takes" and "are you sure this is the place for you?" We usually began work at 6:45am and didn't leave until 10 pm. We had working lunches and were privately scolded if we were seen looking restless or if we lacked joy factor. They lied to us and manipulated us to think our feelings of doubt and tiredness were unique to only us. Many of the staff members got sick often. We were not allowed to take days off if we were sick and needed to go to a doctor. We were told to come to work and if we throw up AND have a fever we could go home. The principal said we should schedule all doctor appointments during school breaks such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The principal talked to the parents like trash. They accepted it unfortunately. She took pride in de-humanizing her staff, students and their parents. She demeans and humiliates the staff regularly. They won't speak up. But I will. Parents, if you only knew the emotional damage this charter school does to your children, you'd send them to a more appropriate one. Teachers, if you are in need of a good teaching career, remember there are other high performing charter schools in New York. You have options. Never allow a job to demean you and take away your dignity and self worth. Please avoid Achievement First Charter School, Endeavor Elementary, and Principal Stephanie Blake.

Anonymous said...

I removed my child from this school also. My child came home everyday feeling like a failure because of these so called simple deductions. I think the school does focus too much attention on discipline. It's the discipline of the "small stuff" as the school motto states. "We sweat the small stuff" It is absolutely ridiculous that over 75 percent of students are serving detention every single day. These children are not allowed to be kids and interact with one another once in the building. They loose all social skills that require them to survive in the real world. I wish more parents would speak out and help to stop the take over of our children.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Achievement First for 5 years, and look back at it as a dark time in my life. It was the most Orwellian workplace I can imagine. Teachers were always told they were "platinum", but at the same time we were micromanaged constantly. My principal, David Hardy, would show up unexpectedly in teachers' classrooms and videotape them without permission. We were supposed to be "happy" and "grateful" for his nonsense feedback. The only emphasis was on discipline. Mr. Hardy knew NOTHING about how children learn, or how to motivate staff. Instead it was discipline, discipline, discipline all the time. He promoted his friends to leadership positions in the school, even though they were completely unqualified. Any disagreement with him meant your job was at stake. At the end of the year, all staff members who had voiced opinions different from Hardy's were let go. And this was after telling us all year that he "valued everyone's input". ha. Avoid this network.

smokeysmokeysmokeysmokeysmokey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smokeysmokeysmokeysmokeysmokey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at Achievement First East New York Middle School. Out of all of the schools I've been to in my life, this is BY FAR the WORST. The school focuses way too much on discipline, and teachers show no care for students. Some teachers can barely teach properly, and rather than setting us up for success, they brake us down and make us feel like failures due to the frequent "Deduction" consequence system in which a student or fellow classmate, or even myself, or penalized for doing things like looking out the window. Furthermore, we are also penalized for dropping a pencil, turning around, or not raising a hand when you don't know the answer to a questions. I literally remember the day i received a "zero" in the grade book for not raising my hand simply because I did not know the answer to a question. I look back at the day and remember failure; no, it was not only that particular teacher that was rude, or even beyond rude as I would say, but almost every teacher if not all target each individual student for the most frivolous things. The school day is also 9 hours alone, and by earning detention by receiving 5 or more of these minors a week (yup, that's looking out the window five times a week)can add an extra 30 minutes to an hour to your day, not inclusive of any extra curricular activities. Overall, the school is a dread to be in every single day, and I've been yearning freedom in a different school again. From the oppressive discipline system to the long day to the careless teachers (at least most of mine are), coming to school each morning is truly dreadful.

smokeysmokeysmokeysmokeysmokey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am currently a student at Achievement First East New York Middle School. Out of all of the schools I've been to in my life, this is BY FAR the WORST. The school focuses way too much on discipline, and teachers show no care for students. Some teachers can barely teach properly, and rather than setting us up for success, they brake us down and make us feel like failures due to the military-style "deduction" consequence system in which a student or fellow classmate, or even myself, can be penalized for doing things like looking out the window. Furthermore, we are also penalized for dropping a pencil, turning around, or not raising our hands when we don't know the answer to a question. I literally remember the day I received a "zero" in the grade book for not raising my hand simply because I did not know the answer to the question. I look back at the day and remember failure; no, it was not only that particular teacher that was rude, or even beyond rude as I would say, but almost every teacher if not all target each individual student for the most frivolous things. The school day is also 9 hours long alone, and by earning detention -very easily- by receiving 5 or more of these deductions a week (yup, that's looking out the window five times a week) can add an extra 30 minutes to an hour to your day, not inclusive of any extra curricular activities. Overall, the school is a dread to be in every single day, and I've been yearning freedom in a different school again. From the oppressive discipline system to the long day to the careless teachers (at least most of mine are), coming to school each morning is truly dreadful and, both physically and mentally painful for me. I also speak on behalf of my peers....

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anonymous student from AF ENY MS. I taught there, and I feel your pain. I'm sorry you had to endure the horrible systems there. I hope you see this post, and know that some of your teachers were sorry, too. I haven't taught there in a few years, so we probably don't know each other. But please know that at there *were* teachers who cared about the kids and DIDN'T WANT to give deductions for nonsense. They threatened to fire us if we didn't.

Anonymous said...

Who the HELL is slamming and banging doors, talking loudly in the background, and stomping around the whole time the first speaker is trying to talk? It is INCREDIBLY distracting and INCREDIBLY disrespectful -- that woman has the patience of a saint because it would drive me out of my gourd trying to make my observations heard while someone was being so rude!

Ron Poirier said...

Who the HELL is slamming and banging doors, talking loudly in the background, and stomping around the whole time the first speaker is trying to talk? It is INCREDIBLY distracting and INCREDIBLY disrespectful -- that woman has the patience of a saint because it would drive me out of my gourd trying to make my observations heard while someone was being so rude!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this parent. I have a child at achievement first middle school and I am looking for school to remove my child as soon as possible from there. I used to get into heating debates with other people defending this school system until I finally saw it for what truly is. An institution ruled by business men not educators. A place where the best interest of the students is the the driving force but instead the interest of their administrators. I feel sick by what is going on at this place. They do whatever they want to do and what the parent has to say has not value. The worse place to educate children. A parent.