Success Academy’s Quest to Transform Public Education

Can Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz continue to successfully lead the fight in favor of charter schools despite political headwinds

Erin McMahon  | Spring 2021
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Tamer Center for Social Enterprise

The charter school movement, which began in the early 1990s in the United States, grew rapidly in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. One of the movement’s key, outspoken advocates was Eva Moskowitz, founder of a New York City-based network of charter schools called Success Academy (SA). With funding from several notable hedge fund managers, SA’s trajectory mirrored the growth of charter schools broadly. From its founding in Harlem in 2006, Success Academy grew to 45 schools, educating more than 17,000 students by 2019. While SA consistently had the highest scores of any school in New York on standardized tests, critiques believed SA’s relentless focus on producing high test scores had a wide range of negative consequences for students, parents, and teachers. It was also suggested that SA achieved its stellar test scores by accepting and retaining only the students with the highest potential. This case provides background on the charter school movement and SA’s role in it—and asks students to consider what SA’s long-term impact will be on the US education system and whether political headwinds, especially from the Democratic Party, will allow the SA model to expand and thrive outside of New York City.

Case ID: 210416

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