To ring in the new school year, Chancellor Betty Rosa picked a seemingly strange school to visit: Success Academy Bronx 2.
The choice is surprising because the past few months have been marked by friction between the State Education Department and SUNY, Success Academy’s authorizer, and to lesser extent, Success Academy itself.
The Board of Regents has twice declined to approve Success Academy charter renewals, claiming that SUNY inappropriately renewed them too early. The rejections were largely symbolic but created conflict between the two entities.
At a recent conference, Rosa strongly condemned a policy shift that would benefit Success Academy — a SUNY proposal to allow charter schools to certify their own teachers. The chancellor also called Success board chairman Daniel Loeb, who drew heat for posting a racially charged comment about a state senator on Facebook, “absolutely outrageous” and suggested he should resign.
In an emailed statement about Rosa’s upcoming visit to Success, State Education Department officials did not address those controversies.
“Chancellor Rosa selected two schools to visit in her hometown community in the Bronx, P.S. 55 and Bronx [Success] Academy 2, which are co-located in the same building,” said department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis. “These schools collaborate to provide the best learning environment possible for students in the school community. As chancellor of the Board of Regents, it is Chancellor Rosa’s duty to serve in the best interest of all schoolchildren.”
Success Academy has extremely high test scores, but critics have contended that it achieves those results, in part, by pushing out the hardest-to-serve students. In general, members of the Board of Regents have made it clear they are closely watching charter school demographics.
Other than her comments about Loeb, Rosa has avoided taking direct aim at Success. Throughout the Regents’ discussion about Success Academy renewals, she did not criticize the network specifically — and instead focused on what State Education Department officials deem a process violation in the way the schools were renewed.
In an emailed statement, Success CEO Eva Moskowitz said she welcomed the visit. “I’m delighted Chancellor Rosa is coming to see our talented and committed educators at work,” she wrote. “As I’ve said before, we welcome all visitors to our schools whether they’re fans, skeptics, or somewhere in between.”