COBBLE HILL, Brooklyn – A video secretly recorded by a classroom aide shows a Brooklyn Success Academy first grade teacher Charlotte Dial berating one of her students.
“Go to the calm chair and sit,” she said during an exercise called “Numbers Stories.”
The first grader could not come up with the correct answer.
“There’s nothing that infuriates me more than when you don’t do what’s on your paper,” she said.
A former Success Academy teacher, Alex, who asked not to use her last name, saw the video showing Dial.
She said that kind of student-teacher dynamic seen in the clip was a commonplace. Alex quit because she did not agree with the school’s teaching philosophy.
“I never regret that decision,” Alex said.
But if her performance was an issue, and the circumstances of her departure were different. She gave perspective on the culture she witnessed at Success.
“It was supposed to be more an aggressive atmosphere with the kids,” Alex said. “Just because the regiment was like to be more a militaristic type of teaching. You’re hard on them, because you expect more.”
Former Success Academy parents – critical of the atmosphere fostered inside the classrooms, are also speaking out.
“This is how the harsh tone, of them trying to reconstruct the children on breaking them down, and having do what they want,” Shanice Givens, a former Success Academy parent.
The video featuring Ms. Dial surfaced on the New York Times website, and was followed with a news conference Friday, led by Success Academy charter school founder Eva Moskowitz.
The tone of the news conference was just as defiant – complete with a #StopBashingTeacher for the New York Times” –– as it was defensive.
“But we are all humans and we all have emotions,” Moskowitz said.
Dial cried at the conference but did not speak. That was left up to her boss.
“this has been very challenging for Ms. Dial,” Moskowitz said. “She is not a public figure. I am.”
After Moskowitz found out about the video, she suspended Dial while investigating the incident. Only to re-instate and then promote her to be a coach training to other teachers.
“I am not going to throw Charlotte Dial under the bus,” Moskowitz said. “She has helped hundreds of children thrive and be successful. We’ve had, I don’t know, a combined total of 25 parents who’ve filed lawsuits, or got to the press. I don’t see how that’s representative of 11,000 families.”
Alex tells us ultimately, many parents keep their children there because the school delivers results.
“They set the standards, very, very high for the students,” she said.