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Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School 1st Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118167281
ISBN-10: 1118167287
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

How can a charter school in the middle of Harlem emerge as one of the top schools in New York City and State in just three years? The Success Academies operate from the simple notion that principals and teachers—the adults—hold the keys to educational excellence. If adults improve their performance, set the bar high enough, and believe that children can rise to their expectations, students are propelled forward at lightning speed.

Mission Possible, written by Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, Eva Moskowitz, and literacy expert, Arin Lavinia, offers practical, classroom-tested ideas for dramatically improving teaching and learning. Through detailed descriptions of how to keep students challenged and engaged, how to ensure that the adults are constantly learning, and how to use the Success Academies' THINK Literacy program, Moskowitz and Lavinia describe what can be accomplished when schools shift their focus to improving the adults' performance. The included companion DVD provides clips and interviews, illustrating how any school can be transformed to achieve remarkable results.

"The authors describe their schools as places defined by 'joyful rigor.' Having visited a Success Academy, I can attest to that. If we are going to change the odds for children living in poverty, we need to create more opportunities to replicate what is working at places like Success Academies. This book does just that, taking the best practices from the Success Academies and creating a framework for educators, parents, and policy-makers to learn from their successes."
Senator Michael F. Bennet, Colorado

"Mission Possible is a testament to what can be achieved in public education when the focus shifts to improving rigor in instruction and continuing education for teachers and principals."
Doug Lemov, managing director, Uncommon Schools; author, Teach Like a Champion

About the Author

Eva Moskowitz is the Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools. A former New York City Council member, she has earned a national reputation as a fighter for improving public schools' rigor and resources, investing heavily in the arts, sports, and science instruction. Her first school, the Success Academy Harlem 1, quickly emerged as one of the top performing schools in New York State and was featured in The Lottery and Waiting for Superman.

Arin Lavinia designed and developed THINK Literacy, a common sense approach to balanced literacy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118167287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118167281
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joel Avrunin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I ordered this book without the baggage of knowing much about Eva Moskowitz or the Success Academies, which was likely beneficial because reading my fellow reviewers, it is apparent that the stars seem to depend mostly on political beliefs regarding charter schools and private schools versus public schools, and less so on the quality and merits of the book itself. As a homeschooling parent, education is an extremely important topic to me, and any book that addresses how children think and the best way to teach is of interest.

Moskowitz starts with the obvious, pointing out that throwing money at the public schools has not resulted in much improvement in the quality of education received. Blame is laid upon many of the usual suspects (teacher's unions, local politicans fattened by the same unions), and while she is likely accurate on many of her accusations, she fails to answer the "why" behind the question. There is a fundamental issue with how we view education, an antiquated system that some have said was developed from the Prussian school model, ideal for educating workers in a newly industrialized economy, but not good for our modern society. Ken Robinson (see Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative) has many good words on the state of education today.

I was hoping for a similar analysis, but the book proceeded into what I can only describe as an advertisement for Success Academies. Perhaps if the book was called, "All About Success Academies" it would be appropriate, but I was hoping for lessons that would work "in any school".
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Author Eva Moskowitz is perhaps the most controversial figure in American education today. Readers of 'Mission Possible' will quickly understand why, if they don't already (eg. she was at the center of a recent DeBlasio-Cuomo flap). Prior to that she'd repeatedly grilled the city's education bureaucrats on their sickly science and art programs, a pervasive shortage of toilet paper, and thee teachers union with hearings on seniority rights and work rules. She has also publicly scolded people with 'deep pockets' for failing 'to declare war on the monopoly of public education.' As a student in the city's crown jewel, Stuyvesant High, she left the PSATs because of blatant cheating after the proctor left the room. She's driven by the notion that an inner-city school, with enough smarts and elbow grease, can transform the lives of children who would otherwise drown in institutional failure.

Inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending on K-12 education has doubled since Reagan and quadrupled since Kennedy's inauguration. No other nation spends as much except Luxembourg. Yet, our high-school students score below average on achievement tests, including those from privileged families.

Most Americans hold dear our crazy hodge-podge of districts, curricula and standards, and fight anything that smacks of standardization. Yet, most of the top-scoring countries have a single education system and rigorous curriculum for all students.

Most public school educators would have you believe they're operating in a 'Mission Impossible' scenario - thanks to underfunding (despite $19,000/pupil), single parent homes, parents uninterested in their children's education, poverty, a high-proportion of non-English speaking students.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...this book sort of reads like a sales brochure for The Success Charter Network.

The basic idea here is simple. Schools need to adapt to effectively teach students. The success of one school in Harlem is examined and the book attempts to apply it to American education in general.

Some of the strategies here are wonderful and easy to implement. For example, getting parents to sign a "contract" that they will participate in their kids' education in certain ways. Some of the strategies here are excellent and somewhat more difficult to implement. For example, setting high expectations for academic achievement. What precisely is this and how is it measured? Big questions! Or having a committment to continuing teacher education. What parts of this education are necessary and what part of this education are overly bureaucratic, time-wasting, and one-size-fits-all? Also big questions. And this book does attempt to grapple with these sorts of issues in an intelligent manner.

But. This book is distasteful in that it advocates for a specific "brand" of education by disparaging public education in general. It does so with a wide brush and in a tone which I can only call snotty. I'm all for storming the battlements against corruption and complacency. However, while I believe in the core concepts put forward by these educators, I feel that this book is weakened by its brazen promotion of the the sort of charter school that is being sold by The Success Charter Network. This weakens this book's authority and cheapens some of the educational concepts it endorses.
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